Football. And beer. It’s a match made in red-blooded American heaven. Toss in some brats and nachos and, well, it doesn’t get much better, does it? So as the 2013 season kicks off, we’ve decided to do all you NFL fans a favor and pair every team with a brew befitting its spirit, history, city, players and/or fans. Bottoms up!
Washington Redskins RG3’s two-pronged running/passing attack injects new life into the Skins and (fans hope) takes them deep into the playoffs. Similarly, DC Brau’s The Corruption IPA injects new life into the city’s burgeoning craft beer scene. It’s an 80 IBU hop bomb that sits squarely between an IPA and DIPA.
Dallas Cowboys They’re often referred to as America’s Team. Lots of people love them but when you ask any Cowboys fan why, they just shrug their shoulders and say, “Because they are the Cowboys.” And anyone who’s not a fan can’t stand them. They are the Coors Light of the NFL.
Philadelphia Eagles Eagles fans are cut from a different cloth. They are a dedicated lot not to be messed with. If you find yourself surrounded by Eagles fans, don’t rock the boat, just grab a Yuengling, swear your allegiance to the City of Brotherly Love and blend in.
New York Giants Although based in New York, the G-Men have a home field in East Rutherford, New Jersey. So their fans are a hybrid of the two states. And they share MetLife Stadium with the Jets. Which kind of makes the two teams like the contact-brewed, gypsy beers of Brooklyn's own Evil Twin Brewing. Hipster Ales for everyone!
Arizona Cardinals One of a handful of teams that has relocated over the years, the Cardinals have gone from perennial bottom dwellers to championship contenders… and back. Non-fans might be surprised to learn this fact, much like people are surprised at the quality of craft beer in the Grand Canyon State. Four Peaks Brewing RAJ IPA is an English IPA that draws off the past to build on the future.
St. Louis Rams St. Louis is the home of Anheuser-Busch. And it used to be home to the Cardinals. But now it is home to the Rams, who once lived in Los Angeles. Pedestrian football deserves a pedestrian beer like Budweiser.
San Francisco 49ers Thanks to Jim Harbaugh, they’re known these days for delivering hard-nosed, old-school football. And the city’s famed beer, Anchor Steam, is similarly reliable and steeped in the city’s history.
Seattle Seahawks The Seahawks were once the laughingstock of the league. In recent years the franchise has grown into a powerhouse, yet they still strode onto the Super Bowl XL field to the tune of “Bittersweet Symphony”… and lost. Self-effacing humor is clearly a Seattle staple, so crack open a bottle of Elysian Brewing’s Loser Pale Ale.
Atlanta Falcons The Falcons are one of those teams that never seem to get the respect they deserve. And as such, they tend to stealthily take advantage of opponents who overlook or underestimate them. Much like SweetWater Brewing, which is slowly taking over the Southeast. Their fall seasonal, Motorboat, a medal-winning ESB, is perfect football beer.
Carolina Panthers Formed in 1995, the Panthers have a relatively short history, yet they have amassed some badass Pro Bowlers like defensive end Julius Peppers, wide receiver Steve Smith and quarterback Cam Newton. NoDa Brewing is on a similar apogee in the city. Their CoCo Loco porter, made with toasted organic coconuts, has been sacking the competition.
New Orleans Saints If you’re like me, you’re old enough to remember the days when the Saints were so atrocious, fans would put brown grocery bags over their heads. But the team rebuilt itself, much like the city after Hurricane Katrina, and in 2009 won Super Bowl XLIV. It’s a testament to their toughness, and the poster beer for rebuilding and coming back from the dead? New Albion Brewing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers The Bucs have a similar historical trajectory as the Saints do: sucking ass in the ’70s to Super Bowl champs in 2002. There can be no denying Jon Gruden’s impact on the team. Cigar City Brewing, like the Bucs, is putting Tampa Bay on map. And Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout delivers a Gruden-style ass whooping.
Green Bay Packers Packers fans are affectionately known as “cheeseheads.” The Packers have won more championships than any other team in the NFL. A relentless and spirited workhorse of a team, their proletariat ethic has close ties to the rural, agrarian lifestyle of the state. Loyalty matters, so turn your lips to New Glarus Brewing Co.’s Dancing Man Wheat—a beer that pairs well with cheese… and is so local you can’t find it outside of the state of Wisconsin.
Minnesota Vikings It’s cold up there in Minnesota. So you’re going to need a beer that warms your soul. Purple People Eaters rejoice: Dark Horse Brewing’s Tres Blueberry Stout should do the trick.
Chicago Bears Da Bears. They’ve always managed to mix class (Gale Sayers and Walter Payton) with tough guy brashness (Dick Butkus and Jim McMahon). Soldier Field has been the site of epic games, mostly featuring their long-time rivals, the Packers. You’re gonna need some lager to go with that bratwurst. I suggest a Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Hell.
Detroit Lions There’s one thing you can count on with the Lions: they will be playing (and likely losing) on Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving makes me think of pie—pumpkin pie. So get your pie on with Uinta Brewing’s Crooked Line Series’ Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin, a boozy 10.31% brew aged in oak barrels.
Buffalo Bills Since 2008, the Bills have played at least one home game across the border in Toronto. Nothing screams beer quite like Canada, eh? Grab a sixer of Molson Export, from a brewery that’s toughed it out for more than a century. Kinda like Buffalo.
Miami Dolphins It never gets cold in Florida. Or so I am told. That said, you are going to need an island-style lager to quench your sweaty thirst. Fins up with a Landshark Lager.
New England Patriots Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Do I even need to explain this to you?
New York Jets Like the Giants, the Jets play in Jersey. And Jersey is the home of turnpikes. Try Flying Fish’s Exit 16, a wild rice DIPA. And drink enough to forget their laughably inadequate 2013 roster.
Denver Broncos Denver isn’t just home to the Broncos; it’s also home to the Great American Beer Festival, which can be considered the Super Bowl of craft brewing. Located in the shadow of Mile High Stadium, Wynkoop Brewing Company is worth hitting up before the game to throw back some pints of Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. It takes balls.
Kansas City Chiefs Andy Reid knows the key to a good offensive attack is a strong line; you’ll need it to protect the pocket and open up huge rushing holes. The key to a good beer lies in its ingredients. For Boulevard Brewing Co., wheat has been the key to success. Their flagship Unfiltered Wheat Beer is a medal-winner and the best-selling craft beer in the Midwest.
Oakland Raiders The Raiders and their fans have been heralded and hated over the years for their tough-as-nails attitude. Orkney's Skull Splitter Scotch ale is intensely drinkable despite its name. Sometimes tough guys have a soft side… which perhaps explains why the franchise hasn’t had a winning season since 2002.
San Diego Chargers The beach, the sun and the sand? What’s not to like about San Diego? And say what you will about Philip Rivers, the man has historically thrown an impressive deep ball. If you’re going to go deep, go deep sea with Karl Strauss’ Two Tortugas Belgian Quad, inspired by turtles and a must-have celebratory holiday ale.
Baltimore Ravens Did you know this football team is named after Edgar Allan Poe’s poem of the same name? Surely you’ll want to check out RavenBeer’s Tell Tale Heart IPA. But really, the beer of Charm City is Natty Boh, bro.
Cincinnati Bengals Their contribution to the game is the no-huddle offense from the late ’80s. Does anyone remember the Icky Shuffle? No? Oh well. The Bengal is a type of tiger. So why not some Tiger beer?
Cleveland Browns The city sits on the banks of Lake Eerie, one of our country’s Great Lakes. Once known as the “Kardiac Kids” for pulling out wins at the last minute, the once-formidable franchise is struggling to recapture its mojo. Have a couple of bourbon barrel-aged Blackout Stouts from Great Lakes Brewing Co. and you won’t care much about the final score.
Pittsburgh Steelers A perennial powerhouse in the AFC, the Steelers have the distinction of winning six Super Bowls, more than any other NFL team. If you want to keep with Steel Curtain tradition, you’ll go with some cans of Iron City.
Houston Texans Running back Arian Foster is a beast. If the opposition’s defense can shut him down, they’ll stand a good chance of coming out victorious. Otherwise, watch out. A big back deserves a big beer, and Brooklyn Brewery’s Monster Ale, an English barleywine weighing in at over 10 percent ABV, is just the ticket.
Indianapolis Colts Despite last year’s playoff appearance (after being outscored by their regular season opponents) the Colts haven’t been the same since Peyton Manning left (can you say franchise player?). And I can’t rightly like them since they snuck out of Baltimore in 1984. You may need some Osiris Pale Ale from Sun King Brewing to wake this team from mediocrity.
Jacksonville Jaguars With a new head coach and new coordinators, Jacksonville is about to embark on yet another rebuilding season. Budweiser, much like the Jags, has recently undergone a change in order to stay relevant. Black Crown is a golden amber that clocks in at 6 percent ABV (considered strong for a mass marketed beer). Jags fans will need it with the current lineup.
Tennessee Titans The AFC South just might be a crap shoot this year. Which is good news for the Titans, who could be the sleeper hit with a team of has-beens and never-wases. And my sleeper beer of choice, Utica Club, is a cheap, quaffable brew with a Pilsner and Pale malt backbone. Sneaky good?