This article is all about beer: good beer, bad beer, real beer, near beer, local brews, national brews, porters, lagers, ales, weird chemical slurries concocted in Anheuser-Busch laboratories, stuff your grandpa drank, stuff your hipster brother-in-law drinks (false distinction: same stuff), beer you would walk a mile for, and beer that makes your garbage disposal gurgle and stink when you pour it down the drain.
Just as every cheese has its perfect wine, every NFL team has its perfect brew. Here's what to drink while watching each NFL team. The choices take into account geography, team quality, beer quality, tastes and trends, plus that je ne sais quoi that comes naturally to a thirsty football writer who often says things like "Invert Cover-2 Defense," "hints of raspberry and rye in the finish," and "je ne sais quoi."
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Arizona Cardinals: Blue Moon
Blue Moon is pretty tasty, but it combines the worst of two worlds. It is too mass-marketed and cynically promoted as some sort of "artisan brew" to appeal to hard-core beer snobs, but the orange slice business and hipsters-in-a-barn advertising campaign make it a wary choice for manly beer drinkers in the manly world of manly beer drinking. Like the Cardinals, Blue Moon has almost gone out of its way to limit its appeal: its yeasty, quirky taste does not go down quite right on a hot Sunday afternoon in September and is a little too tangy to work as a December warmer.
Both Blue Moon and the Cardinals require some perseverance from their supporters, who are surrounded by a host of better options. And of course, we know how often the Cardinals are fun to watch, and how frequent blue moons are.
Atlanta Falcons: Terrapin Hopsecutioner IPA
The old Falcons were strictly a Miller Lite, champagne-of-the-South team. But now the Falcons aspire to be urbane, what with their plans for an organic artichoke-shaped stadium and all.
Terrapin Hopsecutioner IPA is made in Athens, Georgia, with all of the fussiness you would expect from a college-town microbrewery. With six different types of hops (that's right, you have been drinking beers with only one-through-five types of hops, like a chump), you would expect Hopsecutioner to be as bitter as a playoff loss, but the folks at Terrapin don't think so. "Expect citrus and pine on the nose with a beautifully bitter finish; a strong malt backbone keeps the bitterness in check," says the website. Beautifully Bitter Finish: a title for the 2011-2012 Falcons highlight videos!
Baltimore Ravens: National Bohemian
Baltimore is a city with an identity crisis. Unwilling to sell itself on humble charms like crabcakes and Camden Yards, Baltimore insists on trying to be quirky and cosmopolitan. Most cities think out-of-towners speak with funny accents. Baltimore residents insist that they speak with funny accents, and make a big deal out of Baltimore-speak, when they really sound like Philadelphians who binge-watched a season of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo. Baltimore is the baby sibling of Washington, Philly, and New York, always trying too hard to assert itself by harping on Brooks Robinson and the War of 1812.
So when "hipster beers" like Pabst Blue Ribbon became a thing, Baltimore rediscovered Natty Bo, trumpeted it as the city's very own retro-chic cheap suds, and made sure the bilge was available at every bar from the Inner Harbor to Canton. Natty Bo is now made by Pabst and brewed at Miller-Coors joint-owned facilities in North Carolina and Georgia. So not only is it not a Baltimore product anymore, but it isn't funky or local in any way, just an afterthought blasted out by a trio of conglomerates. Natty Bo makes drinkers ironic and hip the way Hot Topic makes teenage mall-crawlers edgy and tough. All of which would be forgiven if Natty Bo did not taste like stale Budweiser.
There is lots of great beer in the Chesapeake region, but Natty is the stuff your brother-in-law will insist you try when watching Steelers-Ravens, after eating a (delicious) crab cake, learning about Francis Scott Key, and listening to the funny way locals say "Orioles" (they pronounce it "Orioles.") Hold your nose and have a few while you wonder whether Ray Lewis slobbers all over his television microphone and why the Pringles dude is winking at you from the can.
Buffalo Bills: Naked Lap Lager, Cortland Brewing Company
The Bills provide so many beer choices! Nothing says "depressing upstate New York nowheresville" like Genesee Cream Ale, the perfect beer to pair with deer jerky, a pickled egg, and crippled aspirations. We could also just cross the border to Labatts and be done with it. But Naked Lap is an excellent choice, not just because it is a solid micro lager and the image of nudity distracts drinkers from the image of the Bills.
Cortland is where the Jets practice, but otherwise Cortland is in the heart of what would be Bills country, if there were such a thing. The rule on the East Coast is that the mountains belong to the Midwestern team; drive west from Philadelphia, and you must change from Eagles green to Steelers black the moment your ears pop. But the Bills are so brutal that their territory is annexed on both sides, so a little enclave just south of the Finger Lakes crawls with Jets fans for one month out of 12, even though the Jets are one of the few teams that are often worse than the Bills.
Enjoy a Naked Lap after touring the gorgeous countryside, and wonder exactly just where "Bills territory" really begins. It is now probably literal: inside the 50-yard line at Rich Stadium.
Carolina Panthers: Peach Twisted Tea
Charlotte is new to the whole "major metropolis" game, and they are just getting caught up on things like microbreweries. Local websites list only a handful of brewpubs, some only a year or two old, one with the unfortunate name "Ass Clown." (You can get tee shirts, which makes you wonder where irony ends and truth in advertising begins).
With no beer tradition, let's switch to a Southern tradition: iced tea, made as sweet as humanly possible without instantly disintegrating tooth enamel. Makers of Twisted Tea and other alco-pops aggressively advertise themselves as "Man Drinks," underscoring several lies about American alcohol branding and attitudes:
1) The lie that drinking anything but mass-produced cheap lager-substance is un-masculine, a corner advertisers painted themselves into in the 1970s and have been tiptoeing out of since the invention of Lite beer.
2) The lie that high-alcohol products that taste like children's juice boxes have any other purpose besides making teenage binging a little easier.
3) The lie that anything botanically resembling a tea leaf came within a mile of the laboratory where this stuff is concocted. Even the cheapest beer in the world still contains barley and yeast. This stuff? It "tastes like real iced tea," according to the advertising copy. Got it.
Anyway, Cam Newton spends an awful lot of his time asserting that he is all grown up and manly, and so far his career has consisted of a tasty start followed by a nasty sugar rush. Neither drinking post-prom alcoholic sugar water nor wearing a towel over your head makes you less of a man, but both suggest that you may want to extend your palette a bit.
Chicago Bears: 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Goose Island Brewing Company
Say, just what is "urban wheat," anyway? Wheat that grows between the cracks in a sidewalk? Is there "suburban wheat," and is it the same stuff that spills from the sides of my lawnmower bag?
I have drank my share of 312, and it has just the right balance of simplicity and fruity ale-ness for a postgame attitude adjuster, but I am leery of this whole "urban wheat" thing, because it sounds like grain that's ready to pop a cap in someone. The Goose Island website is little help: it provides tasting notes, but none of the rhapsodic mythmaking that most craft brewers feel compelled to compose. (Brewed in the tradition of the immigrants of the Hundehaufen Valley who settled in this neighborhood after the Pretzel Famine of 1844, this beer made from a mix of spring water and virgin's tears and is aged in a cave behind a waterfall in barrels made from fallen Sequoias for exactly eleven fortnights…).
Come to think of it, what is the Bears offense supposed to be, anyway? A bunch of Matt Forte handoffs and passes to Brandon Marshall: good, but a little under-realized. Kind of like a beer named after an area code with a rectangle for a logo.
Cincinnati Bengals: Mount Carmel Nut Brown Ale
The Bengals demand a microbrew, because the Bengals ARE a microbrew. Mount Carmel Nut Brown Ale is variously described as chestnut or mahogany colored. It is also ranked as a Top 20 beer by Beer Advocate. Moderately successful, strangely reddish in hue, and largely unknown outside of Cincinnati, Mount Carmel Nut Brown Ale is the closest you can ever come to drinking Andy Dalton.
Cleveland Browns: Burning River American Pale Ale, Great Lakes Brewing Company
Cleveland was a national joke for several decades. It's not that Cleveland was a wonderful place, but that most Midwestern cities were in the same rusty boat 30 years ago: industry leaving, unemployment skyrocketing, downtown decaying into a cultural desert. Pittsburgh and Baltimore weren't exactly lifestyle meccas back when Cleveland was a punchline, but when the river through downtown catches fire -- as the Cuyahoga River did in 1969, thanks to an oil spill -- it's hard for the Chamber of Commerce to rally with extra advertising for Restaurant Week.
One by one, the Midwestern cities that had a fighting chance rethought and revitalized their downtowns. Cleveland is a fine example, with the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, FirstEnergy Stadium and Progressive Field flanked by "The Flats" and other entertainment districts and venues. A craft brewing scene complements downtown renewal perfectly, and Great Lakes Brewing is Cleveland's best known beer export. Burning River is yeasty up front and grapefruit-tinged in the back, but its most distinctive characteristic is its name, which acknowledges Cleveland's gritty past while creating something tasty in the present.
The Browns would also like to acknowledge their gritty past while paving the way for something better; they just have not gotten around to that second part yet. Drink a Burning River and think about how much worse the Browns would look if they weren't in a bright, modern stadium next to a (probably) nonflammable lake.
Dallas Cowboys: Budweiser
You were expecting Lone Star? Most Americans rarely encounter Cowboys fans from Texas who drink Lone Star. We encounter Cowboys fans from the neighborhood who began rooting for the team because of its national prominence and clever packaging. America's Team and The King of Beers go hand-in-hand for lovers of default-choice, mass-market products. Both Bud and the Boys lost their last caches of relevance and quality by the mid-1990s, but caches are overrated when you have national brand recognition, shiny stars, and majestic horsies. Budweiser is not all that terrible, and neither are the Cowboys, and that will do just fine for fans of both.
Detroit Lions: Founders Brewing Company Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Why are you watching a Lions game? Because it's Thanksgiving, silly. And when should you start drinking on Thanksgiving? At breakfast! And how strong should a beer be to get you through your family AND a Lions game? As strong as possible. Founders KBS boats a hefty 11.2 percent alcohol by volume, so it can knock you on your keister and unnecessarily rough you before Ndamukong Suh gets his chance. Founders also makes a regular breakfast stout, meaning breakfast stouts are to these brewers what wide receivers were to Matt Millen.
Denver Broncos: Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey
Colorado has many great local beers these days, and of course it is the birthplace of Coors, which revolutionized the movie product placement industry by co-starring with Bert Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit. (Take that, Reese's Pieces). So enjoy some Coors Light or a refreshing local brew all season, Broncos fans.
Then, the playoffs will come. And some defensive back will trip over his feet. Or John Fox will order Peyton Manning to kneel on the ball at midfield with three timeouts and 2:07 to play, trailing by two points. Beer just ain't gonna cut it at that moment.
Luckily, Colorado now has a burgeoning distillery scene. Stranahan's has made it through the Rockies, across the Mississippi, all the way to the East Coast, probably with Jackie Gleason chasing the truck the whole way. This is great stuff: somewhere between bourbon and scotch, with a deep coffee flavor. It is almost good enough to erase the sting of avoidable playoff catastrophe. Almost.
Green Bay Packers: Canadeo Gold, Titletown Brewing Company
Nothing screams Packers football like the name "Titletown Brewing Company," unless it's a beer named after an old Packers player. And not some old Packers player for training wheel fans like Bart Starr, but Tony Canadeo, who played tailback, quarterback, defensive back, punted, returned punts, and probably collected tickets for the team from World War II through the early 50s. It's a little like naming a Yankees-themed beer after Ray Caldwell. The folks at Titletown make darker beers that are probably more weather-appropriate for Packers football, but how can anyone resist a kolsch that "could be mistaken for American lager but for its subtle fruity aroma and spicy hop flavor." Especially when it is named after a player that only encyclopedia crawlers have heard of.
Houston Texans: Saint Arnold's Fancy Lawnmower
The Cowboys represent stereotypical Texas: oil, money, power, big cars, ten gallon hats, watery beer, and ... well, cowboys. The Texans are the South By Southwest/Austin City Limits version of Texas: younger, hipper, and always on the verge of breaking big but never quite doing it.
The Saint Arnold's brewery is the oldest craft brewery in Texas, dating way back to 1994. Fancy Lawnmower was born in 2000, just before the Texans. A beer with too much body or character would overwhelm Gary Kubiak's offense, but Fancy Lawnmower is light and crisp, with no I'M A MICROBREW DAMNIT punch in the taste buds. Come to think of it, Fancy Lawnmower would be a pretty good name for Kubiak's zone-stretch offense, which may explain why the team has trouble achieving high speeds in the postseason.
Indianapolis Colts: Osiris Pale Ale, Sun King Brewing Company
Steve Koers, Vice President of Sun King Brewery, asked his brewers to help me make this selection. "It's an assertive West Coast-style pale ale. Just like our West Coast-style quarterback!" he boasts. Osiris, which is one of several Sun King products that will be available at Lucas Oil Stadium during Colts games this season, boasts a 90 rating from Beer Advocate, and an even higher rating (a world-class 96) from that site's hard-to-please readers.
Be warned: Osiris is very assertive, and is not made for the bucket-of-lites crowd. Having hoisted a few, I can agree with the beer raters who list flavors like pine, grapefruit and toasted bread. It's like a backyard breakfast in a can, and that's a good thing: the agricultural flavors and bracing bitterness taste like a chilly day in Indiana, which is what Colts football is all about.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Pabst Blue Ribbon
The Jaguars are the only NFL team that can be rooted for ironically. What few national fans the Jaguars have selected them because they were the most unlikely possible choice, a team that makes the fan an underdog and outsider in any sports-related setting. PBR had roughly the same appeal when it went alt-hip about 15 years ago, the terrible beer you drank because you were too cool for both the big corporations and the increasingly precious and self-conscious crafters.
There is always hope that the Jaguars will get better; at best, Pabst products (which encompass a range of awful beers of varying coolness) will not purposely strive to get worse.
Kansas City Chiefs: Bourbon Barrel Quad, Boulevard Brewing Company
In Kansas City, the food is magnificent and the football is horrible. No outsider could possibly select a beer capable of bridging that gap, so I asked Patrick Mullin from the Kansas City Beer Blog to help:
Boulevard Brewing Company's Bourbon Barrel Quad, with the oh-so-Kansas City "BBQ" acronym, is the perfect accompaniment for a Chiefs game. While local excitement for both the beer and the team peaks in the fall, that's where the similarities between the hometown products end. While the Chiefs seem to get worse as time goes on, BBQ gets better; flavors of cherries, vanilla, oak and bourbon are revealed as it warms up. And at nearly 12 percent ABV, it's the perfect beer for drowning your sorrows and disappointments during another losing season.
I'm sold. Of course, with Andy Reid in charge, fans may want to simply chug barbecue sauce.
Miami Dolphins: Michelob Ultra
My body tells me no! But I won't quit, 'cus I want more! Yeah, that's right: nothing mediocre about me! My football team may be going 7-9 every year, but they're just saving their energy so they can make a huge jump in 2013! And this beer isn't watered-down Budweiser, it's a health and energy drink! Look at the guys in the commercials: they are skydiving, mountain climbing, and taking gorgeous women to clambakes. That's how I am going to live once Michelob Ultra improves my cardiovascular endurance and investment portfolio! And the Dolphins will be great as soon as one free agent splurge erases five years of listless tail-chasing. Now excuse me while I get back to jamming to Young the Giant, a totally non-mediocre band destined for great things in the future!
Minnesota Vikings: Worthy Adversary Russian Imperial Stout, Fulton Brewing Company
If Adrian Peterson were a beer, he would be a thick, challenging, powerful, intimidating stout. Fulton, a Minnesota brewery, makes a whopper with 9.2 percent alcohol by volume. "Adventurous tattoo artists have used it in place of ink," according to the Fulton website. "If left outside during winter, it won't freeze, even in Minnesota. Beneath the shadowy exterior, a swirling ambush of coffee and dark chocolate flavors lurk atop a mountain of malt." Sounds like the kind of stuff you need to absorb 25 carries per game, or to get fortified to shovel your way TO the game.
New England Patriots: Sam Adams Boston Lager
This seems like a too-obvious choice, but the Patriots and Sam Adams have more in common than their New England home. Check out this recent Sam Adams ad, in which a cross-section of fashionable 20-somethings taking a blind taste test are shocked to discover that Sam Adams tastes good:
That's right, Mister Porkpie Hat and Glasses Guy! There are quality beers in the world besides Local Seasonal Artisanal Imperial Brewed with Water Chiseled from a Glacier and Filtered Through a Unicorn's Horn IPA! In fact, 25 years or so ago, Samuel Adams was the gold standard of American craft brewing, the beer that blew the market wide open for local brewers to experiment with funky varieties and flavors. But that was before you kids were born, and you are now so spoiled by a market full of infinite choices that you turn your nose up at something that dares to be advertised nationally and does not put a picture of a skeleton ridding a dragon on the bottle.
Patriots fans, jaded by over a decade of dominance, have forgotten what a bad team looks like, so they carp and whine through 12-4 seasons, just like the beer snobs who cannot imagine a world where Michelob was the only "premium" American beer have to be blindfolded and tricked into sipping Sam Adams. A little bad beer and bad football are good for the soul, but Patriots fans and Sam Adams drinkers will not experience either of them anytime soon.
New Orleans Saints: Abita Purple Haze
Abita makes a lot of fine beers, but Purple Haze packs the most New Orleans-heavy flavor because of the vague raspberry tint. Abita tastes like you were out drinking the night before and have a bad case of the daiquiri burps, so when you take that first slurp of pregame beer your mouth is still reeling from some weird berry experience from the previous night. Washing down a queasy hangover with more beer is, of course, the quintessential New Orleans experience.
Purple Haze is not as bad as that description suggests. It just predates the current trend in fruit-flavored beers, so instead of lemon, lime, or Blue Moon yeasty orange you get a strange, heavy sweetness. After two or three, you forget what happened on Saturday night, assuming you remember at all.
New York Giants: Brooklyn Lager
Brooklyn Lager brewmaster Garrett Oliver is not just a trend setter. He's a Giants fan. "Back in the day, the Jets were fashionable and easy to like, but the Giants were gritty and easier for us to relate to. We still loved Joe Namath, but we rooted for the Giants," he told me.
So yes, once upon a time, the Jets were fashionable and the Giants were relatable. Confused yet? Well, once upon a time there was nothing fashionable about Brooklyn or local brewing. Oliver helped make both of them cool. "When Brooklyn Lager was first introduced (circa 1989), it was considered pretty weird stuff, and it was considered even stranger that it was named after Brooklyn!"
There is nothing weird about Brooklyn Lager in 2013. It is fresh, crisp, malty up front, mild in the finish, exactly what you would expect from a first-generation craft brew that had to survive in a world that forgot beer was supposed to taste like something. It's not fancy, but it is traditional and carefully crafted, just like everyone's favorite 9-7 sometime-champions. "It's got great drinkability -- you can stick with it for the whole game," Oliver said. "But if it's snowing outside, Brooklyn Brown Ale tastes at least as good!" What about sleet? We have to prepare for a New York Super Bowl, after all.
New York Jets: Bud Lite Strawberry Lime-o-Rita
The Lime-o-Rita products are "give up on life" beverages, as proudly proclaimed by an advertising campaign that trumpets them as an alternative to the difficult and time-consuming act of actually mixing a cocktail. (Yo, Broheim, while you are at it, stop grilling burgers for your friends like a chump and stuff some uncooked Hot Pockets in their mouths.)
The Strawberry Lime-o-Rita looks like a radioactive melted popsicle when it pours into a glass (an effort the product's advertising would consider pretentious and wasteful) and smells like Jolly Ranchers left in a car too long. The flavor profile needs reconstructive surgery: sugary and cloying up front, then a Mystery Berry flavor like the kind usually found in packets with plastic straws, then a bitter stale beer finish that lingers in the back of the throat for about two hours after drinking. Yes, I dropped $5.49 on a four pack, and I expect reimbursement from Sports on Earth, because the foul contaminant lingered in the back of my mouth even after a sausage-pepper-and-egg sandwich and two jumbo iced teas.
Lime-o-Ritas come in 16 ounce cans, pack eight percent alcohol by volume, and are sweet enough to hide all of their alcohol taste, making them the ideal drink for the kinds of parties that are thrown in the suburbs when mom and dad fly to Cancun for their second honeymoon. How all of this relates to Jets football is up to you to decide.
Oakland Raiders: Anything in a 40-ounce bottle
Philadelphia Eagles: Yuengling Lager
Viciously and unfairly maligned in a recent Deadspin article, Yuengling Lager is a regional craft brew that never disappeared or turned into a cheap knockoff with an old-timey label. The Yuengling brewery was making a variety of quality beers back when the Big Three ruled the landscape, and it was waiting at the start of the microbrew revolution with not just a lager, but an ale, a porter, a bottled black-and-tan, and an awful lite beer. Yuengling Lager was the first "dark" beer Philadelphians between the ages of 30 and 50 ever drank, the beer we ordered in Cherry Hill taverns or brought to Veterans Stadium tailgates to demonstrate our desire to dump something classy over a Cowboys fan's head.
Yuengling Lager is malty up front, then smooth with a slightly bitter finish. It lacks character compared to the contemporary microbrew, and when you drink too many of them and they start to run together, like the last five or six Eagles seasons. Chip Kelly brings both freshness and an old-fashioned approach, just like a craft beer which is not really a craft beer.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Iron City Light
Here's a history lesson for all of you young-but-legal drinkers out there. Twenty-something years ago, regional beers were undrinkable swill. The idea that you could go into a Midwestern city, order the fruits of the local brewery, and get something tasty and unique had not even been born in the mind of the most creative organic gardener or gourmand. The regional beers survived on brand loyalty, and by being cheaper than the stuff gushing from the Big Three conglomerates. Local beer was something grandpa had been chugging since the days when he worked double shifts at the factory, except that the company producing it had been cutting costs since the day grandpa met grandma.
Such was the world I entered circa 1990, when a friend introduced me to Iron City and IC Light while visiting his family in Erie, Pennsylvania. Iron City was an institution in Steelers country, with many fans proudly displaying their collection of commemorative cans from the 1970s Super Bowl teams. The IC I drank that fateful week was probably brewed in 1978, and may have been filtered through L.C. Greenwood's tube socks. The beer had a harsh, medicinal aftertaste, but the worst thing about it was its mouth feel. It was oily, as if the beer had separated like salad dressing. But it was 90 cents per can at a downtown bar, so many painful cans and draft glasses were choked down.
I have not tasted Iron City since the beer's relaunch in 2007; Western Pennsylvania is now teeming with small breweries, and I stuck to Duquesne Pilsner when I was at Steelers camp and was a happy drinker. The gang at RateBeer.com give Iron City a 2.0 and IC Light a 1.0, but most of the reviewers complain only of a generic, metallic taste, not the sensation of hoagie drippings and a lump of spent charcoal resting within the can.
IC Light used to be slightly more palatable than Iron City, so it gets the nod here. There is apparently also an IC Light Mango now, the thought of which causes stomach convulsions, plus the sneaking suspicion that the Steelers will never win a Super Bowl so long as there exists on earth something called Iron City Light Mango.
Saint Louis Rams: Falstaff
Budweiser? Nah, that's not Rams beer. St. Louis is the historic epicenter of American brewing, and beer historians know that the ultimate old-school St. Louis beer is Falstaff, established by the Lemp family in the late 1800s. Bud went national as soon as the Busch family figured out how to ship it in refrigerated railroad cars. Falstaff remained a Mississippi River phenomenon, closely associated with the St. Louis Browns and other long-forgotten entities, as the bigger distributors slowly steamrolled the American beer landscape. Falstaff eventually became a Pabst property, one of many once-proud local brews relegated to slop-from-a-spigot status. Despite the downgrade, tasting a Falstaff is like tasting a few drops of St. Louis history.
There is only one problem: Pabst no longer makes Falstaff. The company keeps renewing the copyright, lest some local independent does something horrible like revive a tradition, but no Falstaff has been brewed since 2005. Or has it? These beer historians found Falstaff on a shelf in Wisconsin in June. Had some clerk dug a little too deep into the freezer, or is Pabst engaged in some stealth marketing/copyright protection?
That Falstaff site includes a gorgeous advertisement for the beer: dudes in cowboy hats and comely coeds cheering for "state" at a football game. "Because we're all in this together," the caption reads. The perfect sentiment for Rams football, Browns baseball, and trying to stop a corporate conglomerate from yanking the beer-lover's chain.
San Diego Chargers: Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
Stone, located outside of San Diego, may be the best independent brewery in America, and Arrogant Bastard is their flagship product, a mouthful of subtleties and contradictions more reminiscent of a good cognac or single-barrel scotch than of a distant cousin to Coors Light.
Arrogant Bastard has far more character, and is far more interesting, than the San Diego Chargers. The beer should never overwhelm the team, but Diet Sprite could overwhelm the Chargers, so you might as well go for the gusto. Plus, Arrogant Bastard Ale may well have been named after former general manager A.J. Smith.
Warning: unless you are a hardcore beer aficionado, beware of the Oaked Arrogant Bastard, which tastes like someone stuffed three wild cherries and two Cuban cigars in your mouth, sealed you into an wooden barrel, then rolled you off a cliff.
San Francisco 49ers: Anchor Steam Beer
Anchor Steam is a Joe Montana beer in a Colin Kaepernick world. It hails from an era when the West Coast Offense was cutting edge and the terms "microbrew" and "craft beer" would elicit confused shrugs from even the hippest pub crawlers. Anchor Steam was craft before craft was cool, and the brewers wisely copyrighted the "steam beer" name for a then-forgotten California brewing process, sparing us from a world of Michelob Steam Ultra (only 72 calories and 2.3 "carbs," perfect for hang gliding to a golf tournament with cool, likeable people like Lance Armstrong).
Anchor Steam is a classic the way the Bill Walsh playbook is classic. In other words, it is a little bland to modern tastes, harkening back to a time when freshness, a frothy head, and a nose that did not conjure images of the Delta Phi bathroom were all it took to blow a drinker's mind. Anchor tastes a little quaint in a world filled with Belgian Trappist Trippel Cask Aged Read Option Select Reserve, but quality is quality, and the 49ers running game and defense offer nods to the steamy past while Kaepernick leads them into the future.
Seattle Seahawks: Tap Water
Seattle is an intimidating place for the tragically uncool. This is the city that defined American tastes for the new millennium, the birthplace of the computer revolution, coffee house culture, the upscale dive bar phenomenon, and bands that are too cool to be too cool for commercialism. Beer? The town is swimming in it. There is a beer news website trumpeting the imminent return of the "Cider Summit," where world leaders will no doubt decree that the next generation of 20-somethings will wake up with apple-breath hangovers. Meanwhile, old farts like me pull Pearl Jam tee-shirts out of the bottom of the drawer and ask our kids, "does this make me look cool?"
So while it would be easy for me to load up Seattle Magazine, search some beer lists, and decree that Haystack Hefeweizen by Snoqualmie Falls Brewing is the quintessential Seahawks bar, the very act of selecting that beer will make it uncool and, by extension, un-Seattle. Seattle Magazine? Sheesh, why doesn't grandpa just look in the Saturday Evening Post? The current Seahawks are so cutting edge that they transcend the notion of cutting edge, so the only way to stay ahead of their curve is to drink water, which is just beer with unfulfilled potential. Plus, you want to stay sober when watching the Seahawks, because you never know what they will do next.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Corona
Most fans only pay attention to the Buccaneers when they fly down to watch them host a Northeast corridor team when the weather gets cold. (Eagles at Bucs October 14th, visit Uncle Carlo in Clearwater while you're there! Bills at Bucs December 8th; no one will blame you if you don't book a return flight!) The half-frozen Baltimore-to-Bostonian emerges from the plane, sees palm trees, hears the words "Gulf of Mexico," and thinks, "say, what is that flavorless watery nonsense they always serve at silly luau parties and Cinco de Mayo night at Tipsy McStereotypes? The stuff with a edge of lime in it to give it some taste and smell? Corona! Give us a bucket of those!" When the Yankee arrives home sunburnt and hung over, his only memories are of a pirate ship, two or three interceptions, and conch fritter barf.
Tennessee Titans: Royitos Whiskey Sour
Tennessee is sour mash whiskey country, and the Titans are so dull that beer just won't do. How about a tailgate cocktail to spice things up: genteel enough for a Sunday late-morning in the South, but powerful enough to get the job done? Dale DeGroff, the James Beard award winning King of Cocktails and a huge help for several of these entries, shared this recipe for Royitos Whiskey Sour with me:
ROYITOS WHISKEY SOUR (Pairs well with barbecued ribs etc.)
By Dale DeGroff
1.5 oz Whiskey (2 oz for a bolder drink)
1 oz Fresh orange juice
0.75 oz Fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Royito's Hot Sauce
1.5 oz Honey syrup*
0.5 oz spring water
Granulated brown sugar (for frosting the rim of the glass)
Preparation: Wet the outside rim of an old-fashioned glass with a piece of orange and dab it into a bowl of brown sugar to coat the rim.
Assemble in the bottom of a cocktail mixing glass the first five ingredients. Add ice and shake well for a slow ten count. Strain into the prepared old fashioned glass and garnish with an Orange slice and a mint sprig.
*Mix 2 parts Honey with one part warm water and stir to dissolve
Thanks, my liege. I will be going for the two-ounce whiskey option. And after making this, I will have put more effort into drink preparation than the Titans have put into roster development in the last two years!
Washington Redskins: Mike's Hard Lemonade
Squint at the bottle and you will swear it reads "Mike Shanahan Kool Aid." Redskins fans have been getting hammered at the offseason pre-party and missing the real shindig for over a decade. Even after last season's success, they are still the freshman pledges at the frat party: a little too boastful and excited, a little too early. It's best to stick with the training wheel beverages until this team wins a playoff game: we don't want anyone doing a keg stand the moment Robert Griffin jogs onto the field and then puking when the Giants are in first place at Thanksgiving.