As the leaves ever so slowly start to turn color, and an occasional autumn-like breeze refreshes both body and soul, hope reigns supreme in every one of the thirty-two NFL team’s training camps, as football season—finally—is once again upon us!
The return of football season not only brings with it Super Bowl aspirations, but also one of America’s ultimate pastimes: tailgating. Whether you’re quaffing your favorite local brew at the stadium, or just catching the game at your local watering hole, here’s your team-by-team craft beer guide to this year’s NFL season.
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Community Beer Works or Flying Bison Brewery. For a real taste of the city, The Buffalo Brewpub offers city standards such as chicken wings and beef on weck (roast beef served on a kummelweck bun) that’ll pair great with a malty craft brew like Flying Bison’s Rusty Chain Vienna Lager.
Titanic Brewing Company in Coral Gables pairs their fresh fish with freshly brewed beer, while establishments like Lokal Burgers and Beer in Coconut Grove and World of Beer – Dadeland provide ample air-conditioned shelter from Florida’s ubiquitous heat and humidity. To beat the heat while tailgating, try a bottle of Michael’s Genuine Home Brew, a collaboration between Back Forty Beer Company and Miami chef Michael Schwartz, brewed with indigenous sugarcane and brown rice.
Samuel Adams and Harpoon. Massachusetts is as rich in craft breweries as it is in double consonants, so your selection is wicked awesome.
Wormtown Brewery in Worcester uses Massachusetts-grown ingredients in every beer, while Jack’s Abby Brewing in Framingham is the closest brewery to the stadium. If you’re traveling to see the game, what better brews to bring along than one of Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project’s quirky offerings? As tenant brewers who often sleep in their cars to get an early start on brew day, Dann and Martha Paquette probably know a thing or two about tailgating.
Learn more about tenant and contract brewing in: “Contract is Not a Dirty Word in Brewing.”Brooklyn Brewery and Sixpoint Brewery, both in—you guessed it—Brooklyn, are closest to the stadium and offer some of their finest beers in gang green packaging (Brooklyn Lager and Sixpoint Resin) to match your game-day attire. However, to complement your Nathan’s hot dog, there may be no better match than one of Shmaltz Brewing’s Coney Island Craft Lagers!
Cricket Hill Brewery in Fairfield and Gaslight Brewing Company and Restaurant in South Orange are your closest brick-and-mortar brewing destinations. The former has practiced the Reinheitsgebot—the German beer purity law—for over a decade and creates off-the-cuff reserve ales and small batch beers throughout the year, while the latter regularly has eight of their beers on tap along with a full menu of food to fuel your frenetic fandom. Rather than deal with traffic, you can also just kick back in your camper and take a palatable road trip of New Jersey with Flying Fish Brewing Company’s Exit Series, which explores the state one unique beer at a time. How about one of those with your hero?
Just in time for kick-off, Deep Ellum Brewing Company will start bottling their beers, making their IPA, wit, pils, and stout more tailgate-friendly. Carrying on the tradition of their German ancestors, Rahr & Sons serve “brand new beer with a 150-year history,” while Peticolas Brewing Company is a “a modern day mom and pop operation” that offers a truly cosmopolitan variety of craft beers. As we all know, burgers go great with beer, and for both, look no further than Humperdink’s Restaurant & Brewery only a few miles from the stadium!
As host of the 2013 National Homebrewers Conference, the City of Brotherly Love boasts an impressive array of breweries and brewpubs: Yards Brewing, Dock Street Brewery and Restaurant, Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia Brewing Company - the list could go on and on. Few cities are as craft beer rich, and with Lincoln Financial Field’s relatively central location, there are plenty of different pints within convenient reach to pair with your cheesesteak.
Chocolate City Beer and 3 Stars Brewing are relative newcomers to the D.C. craft beer scene, but there is no better way to make new friends and reconnect with old ones than by sharing one of their growlers—unless they’re Cowboys fans, of course. The Hogettes—Redskins fans in women’s dresses, floppy hats and pig snouts—are a staple at home games, and since Washington is a melting pot of food culture, there is no better way to pair the robust craft brews of the capital city than with all kinds of smoked, grilled, barbecued and fried pork on game day.
Clipper City’s lineup of Heavy Seas beers is so wide and varied that almost anyone will find a style to enjoy, while Flying Dog Brewery’s aggressive and unique interpretations will smack your gums the way Ray Lewis tackles running backs—except in a good way.
Crab is the tailgate protein of choice in Baltimore, and whether it’s blue and fried or shaped like a cake, the delicate meat and Old Bay seasoning pairs well with a variety of craft beers, including Flying Dog’s gose, a sour and salty wheat beer with ancient German roots.
East End Brewing Company crafts a variety of session ales available in growlers that make for easy drinking during a long day of tailgating and are also easy to share. Just across the Allegheny River and not too far from the stadium, historic Church Brew Works pours numerous different handcrafted pints—literally brewed on the altar—and dishes a dazzling array of plates in their stunning temple of beer and food.
Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon features a number of award-winning beers, including their highly decorated Head Hunter IPA, which most recently took silver at the 2012 World Beer Cup. Their saloon, just a half an hour away from the stadium dishes all kinds of craft beer and football-friendly dishes. Only two miles from Browns Stadium, Great Lakes Brewing Company makes “an exceptional family of beers” that is readily accessible to enrich your tailgating experience. If you’re feeling a little mischievous, Indigo Imp Brewery can spice up your tailgate with their unorthodox array of unfiltered real ales.
Moerlein’s ales and lagers have hardly changed since this Bavarian opened his brewery in 1853, and in the age of craft beer innovation, a taste of tradition is a refreshing reminder of beer’s origins in America. Rivertown Brewing Company has mixed their strong lineup of German beers with several Americanized brews, including their Hop Baron Double-Down IPA, while Blank Slate Brewing Company bucks the German trend entirely with their rye and peppercorn saison, American session ale, and summer wheat ale. Still, when you’re grilling brats and simmering sauerkraut outside Paul Brown Stadium, there is no better accompaniment than a German-style beer.
Piece Brewery & Pizzeria offers the best of both and won the 2006 World Beer Cup Champion Small Brewery and Brewmaster Award for their exquisite small batch brews.
Not far away, Haymarket Pub & Brewery crafts numerous award-winning brews, and Hamburger Mary’s Brew & Grille pours and plates tasty beers with burgers. Finch’s Beer Company and Half Acre Beer Company offer portable pints for parking lot shenanigans in stylish cans, while Revolution Brewing will turn your taste buds upside down with their bold beers. In any case, you will have no trouble finding a Chicago craft beer to pair with your slice of deep dish pizza or Chicago-style hot dog before the Bears devour their opponents.
The young Lions are hungry for more after last year’s promising season, and while they feast on opponents, you can quench your thirst with craft beer. Detroit Beer Company features eclectic beer and food menus in a beautifully restored downtown building. Motor City Brewing Works pairs brick oven pizzas with their beers, and Atwater Brewery, located in the historic Rivertown District, pours plenty of year-round and seasonal beers to please any palate. Toast to Detroit’s football, craft beer, and overall rejuvenation with a pint of one of these local breweries at your next Lions tailgate!
While being the least populous city to host an NFL team, Green Bay boasts several brewpubs, including Titletown Brewing Company and Hinterland Brewery/Green Bay Brewing Company. Of course, when in Wisconsin, craft beer lovers would be remiss not to seek out beer from New Glarus Brewing Company, which are only available in the Badger state. Renowned for their Spotted Cow, a farmhouse ale, and their Wisconsin Belgian Red, brewed with local cherries, both beers accompany gouda and Havarti very well. Malt-forward beers, such as amber or bock, will meld beautifully with a good ol’ wedge of Wisconsin cheddar.
AFC SouthSaint Arnold Brewing Company. With their vast variety of regular and seasonal beers, Texans fans will be hard-pressed not to find their perfect tailgating accompaniment. Saint Arnold’s Amber Ale, Brown Ale, and Oktoberfest would go particularly well with a cornucopia of barbecued, grilled, and smoked meats.
Karbach Brewing Company, as the name already hints, is a German-American endeavor, wedging their lager and hefeweizen between an IPA and a double IPA in their lineup of regular beers. Clearly, Houston is not only a hotbed for football talent, but also for craft beer.
Blackstone Restaurant and Brewery offers not only award-winning beers, including their kolsch and porter, but also a full menu of football-friendly foods only a few miles from LP Field. Yazoo Brewing Company is not too far from your tailgating spot either, and offers growlers as well as bottles, while Jackalope Brewing Company and Fat Bottom Brewing are up-and-coming establishments that just happen to be pretty close to LP Field.
Sun King Brewing Company makes some of the best craft beers in the country and is within walking distance of Lucas Oil Stadium. In addition, their beers are available in fancy pint-sized cans so you can tailgate in style. If you’re not firing up your own grill in the parking lot, Ram Restaurant & Brewery serves up tried-and-true craft beer and burger combinations only a hop, skip and a jump away. Growlers of craft beer make any tailgate better, and Bier Brewery and Taproom is proud to constantly change their astounding lineup of beers, which will certainly make it easy for even the pickiest craft beer drinker to find something to enjoy.
NFC SouthNoDa Brewing Company’s beer in hand! Served in several sections of the stadium for the first time this season, you can easily continue your craft beer tailgate beyond the parking lot.
While Asheville might be Beer City USA 2012, Charlotte is no craft beer slouch, featuring The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s German-inspired beers as well as Triple C Brewing Company’s original American lineup. Barbecue is king in the Carolinas and the caramelization of the meat pairs well with malty beers, such as Triple C’s Smoked Amber, which uses cherrywood-smoked malt, accentuating the flavors of whatever cut of slowly roasted pork you might be nibbling on.
Cigar City Brewing Company’s beers, named in homage of Tampa’s rollicking cigar industry of the early twentieth century, provide a liquid history of the city with offerings such as Maduro Brown Ale, which pairs well with mild cigars, and Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale, a tribute to one of Tampa’s most storied immigrant groups that uses locally roasted beans. If you’re not munching on tostones or cooking up a whole pig caja china-style at the game, Peg’s Cantina and Brewpub in nearby Gulfport offers unique small batch brews and fresh Mexican cuisine, while Tampa Bay Brewing Company in historic Ybor City incorporates at least one of their beers in every dish, making for a fun beer and food pairing experience.
SweetWater Brewing Company. While their 420 Extra Pale Ale is their most successful offering—and pairs well with a variety of Southern, tailgate-friendly staples, such as fried chicken and, well, fried anything—SweetWater makes a variety of palate-pleasing year-round brews, including a wheat beer and a blueberry ale.
Red Hare Brewing Company in Marietta will be the first Georgia craft brewer to can their beer, adding another local, portable, and quaffable option to your tailgate. For the sophisticated fan, Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery pairs award-winning beers with upscale Southern bistro-pub fare in the heart of downtown, a short walk from the Georgia Dome.
Billed as “a beer for all things Cajun and Creole,” Bayou Teche Brewing Company’s LA-31 Louisiana Pale Ale brewed with Belgian malts and American hops and yeast, sounds like a veritable match for your game day gumbo. Meanwhile, NOLA Brewing can not only be enjoyed at their location in the Irish Channel, but also in the shadow of the Superdome thanks to their snazzy cans. If you’re looking to celebrate Saints victories in the French Quarter, look no further than Crescent City Brewhouse and their lineup of German beers.
Strange Brewing Company lives up to its name with its quirky, mostly Belgian, beers, while Breckenridge Brewery, Great Divide Brewing Company, and Wynkoop Brewing Company are all venerable Denver craft beer staples. If you’re tailgating with the Rocky Mountains as your backdrop, Bull & Bush Pub and Brewery offers World Beer Cup-winning brews and traditional pub fare, including their famous green chili, and you can comfortably catch every one of Peyton’s passes there as well.
Few combinations exemplify the West Coast better than spicy fish tacos paired with an IPA, and whether it’s Karl Strauss’ Tower 10 IPA, Green Flash’s West Coast IPA, or Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA, chances are you won’t have any trouble finding one that’ll suit your palate in this craft beer-rich city.
If you’re not headed to the game, it’s easy to become bogged down at Pacific Coast Brewing Company, a veritable craft beer emporium with over 20 taps, including four to 10 of their own beers. With a full menu and NFL Sunday Ticket, they are committed to craft beer excellence—a promise every Raider fan can appreciate.
McCoy’s Public House offers all-American cuisine with all-American craft beer, as well as cigars, which can make for interesting beer pairings, particularly malt-forward ones, such as ambers or stouts that can stand up to the tobacco. Growlers are perfect tailgating vessels, and 75th Street Brewery has you covered. Look for their Brown Ale and their Irish Stout to pair particularly well with your barbecue.
Elysian Brewing Company’s various locations are sprinkled throughout the city, and their brewpub—aptly named Elysian Fields—is right next to the stadium, offering 40 taps, two rotating casks, and a top-end kitchen in a space designed to handle game day crowds. Pike Pub and Brewery is a Seattle institution only a mile from the stadium, while Emerald City Beer Company’s Dottie Seattle Lager comes in attractive pint-sized cans that’ll spruce up your tailgate session.
Anchor Brewing Company.
With origins in the California Gold Rush, Anchor Brewing Company has stood the test of time, weathering numerous challenges including Prohibition, which spelled death for most breweries in the U.S. Best known for their Steam Beer, Anchor offers many other regular and seasonal beers that will turn your tailgate into a celebration not just of the 49ers golden days, but of San Francisco’s.
Meats and cheeses may be the simplest and most sublime accompaniments to craft beer, and Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery, not too far from Candlestick Park, pairs their award-winning beers with only the choicest cuts and wedges. Of course, no tailgate would be complete without a can of beer, and the incredible designs and expansive lineup of 21st Amendment Brewery’s cans will put any other to shame.
The Rams have been one of the worst teams in the league for far too long, but their roster is young and talented, so perhaps they’ll be a pleasant surprise this season. Young, talented, and pleasant are also apt descriptors of St. Louis’ craft beer scene.
With his German brewing education and experience at Anheuser-Busch, brewmaster Florian Kuplent has brought his zany lineup of craft beers within two miles of Edward Jones Dome at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company. Even closer, you can hunker down at The Schlafly Tap Room, where you can enjoy their vast variety of beers in Missouri’s first post-Prohibition brewpub. Perennial Artisan Ales and 4 Hands Brewing Company both experiment with spices, wild yeasts, and wood-aging, all of which make for unique and tasty treats, and a stone’s throw away from the dome, Morgan Street Brewery serves a variety of German-inspired beers with an eclectic food menu. Just like the upstart Rams, St. Louis’ craft beer selection is exciting!
Foreign yet approachable, like any good German beer, Kay Witkiewicz, the current Craft Beer Program intern for the Brewers Association, is as avid a homebrewer as he is a beer writer. Expanding his knowledge of beer one sentence, one sip, and one stir of the mash at a time, he hopes to one day open a brewpub, following the seasonal brewing practices of old.
Last Updated: December 4, 2012