Football and beer -- what's more uniting than that?
Pairing a refreshing, easy-drinking beer and an intense, star-laden football game is something all of us -- OK, a great many of us -- can get behind. And so, on the day our nation celebrates its independence, we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the best tribute beers throughout the NFL.
We have beers infused with candy and coffee, beers resembling champagne, and beers that taste like popsicles. We have beers inspired by unrelenting hatred toward the Dallas Cowboys and Tom Brady. We have beers that we made up. Most importantly, though, we have beer. And football. And what could be better?
Brady's Nightmare | 902 Brewing Co. | Jersey City, New Jersey
Anti-tribute to: Tom Brady
Beer style: New England-style IPA
Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10% (for Eli Manning's number)
When it was brewed: Brady's Nightmare was brewed 100 cases at a time in October 2018 and in January 2019. It flew off the shelves with each release. It is expected to be brewed again for the start of the 2019 season.
Why the name was chosen: 902's Colby Janisch and Don Vogt (a longtime Giants season-ticket holder) wanted to come up with something both Jets and Giants fans would like, and Brady was a natural tie-in. The Giants beat Brady twice in the Super Bowl and the Jets have been terrorized by Brady in the AFC East for nearly two decades.
Key ingredients: Amarillo, Citra and Mosaic hops
Dallas Sucks | Weyerbacher Brewing Co. | Easton, Pennsylvania
Anti-tribute to: Dallas Cowboys
Beer style: Pale ale
Why this name was chosen: Weyerbacher's president, Josh Lampe, was hanging out at a bar in Philly called Jose Pistola's. Their point-of-sale system ditched the standard greeting ("Thank You") and replaced it with the following message: "Dallas Sucks." The bar's owner, Casey Parker, was also a good friend. Lampe told him they should collaborate on a beer to capitalize on the Philadelphia Eagles' unrelenting rivalry with the Cowboys. Six months later, they had one.
When it was brewed: Weyerbacher put it out in the beginning of the 2017 season -- the Eagles' Super Bowl-winning season. In the first year, Weyerbacher thought they would do 500, maybe 1,000 cases. They ended up doing 14,000 over three months. Now they brew it on a limited basis.
Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.5%
Key ingredients: Calypso, Centennial and Cascade hops (that will change with the 2019 version, which will be sold in 16-ounce cans)
Orange Crushsicle | Spangalang Brewing Co. | Denver, Colorado
Tribute to: Broncos' Super Bowl run
Beer style: Experimental fruit beer
When it was brewed: For the Broncos' 2016 Super Bowl run. Co-owner Darren Boyd says it could come back if the Broncos make a return trip to the playoffs.
Why this beer recipe was chosen: Boyd was looking for something that could stand out in a competitive Denver market that has over 100 breweries. Spangalang had never done anything quite as playful or weird as Orange Crushsicle. The recipe appealed to people who weren't craft beer drinkers, bringing customers through the door who otherwise wouldn't stop in.
Key ingredients: Orange juice and vanilla, a combination that makes it taste like an orange Creamsicle. The recipe also includes Citra hops.
Undefeated | Funky Buddha Brewery | Oakland Park, Florida
Tribute to: 1972 Miami Dolphins (14-0)
Beer style: Saison
Why this beer recipe was chosen: Co-founder Ryan Sentz is a big Dolphins fan who grew up knowing all about the tradition of that undefeated '72 team, with some of those former Dolphins celebrating with champagne after their unique place in history is secured each season. Brewing a tribute to that '72 team was a way for Sentz to incorporate beer with his love for the Dolphins. He wanted his recipe to mimic champagne but still be a beer, so he settled on a hybrid saison -- a super dry, almost wine-like beer.
Key ingredients: Funky Buddha uses Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand, which are very citrusy. They also brew the beer with pinot grigio and chardonnay juices and age it in wine barrels to give it more characteristics of wine. They then bottle it with champagne yeast. Pilsner and Munich malts are also used.
When it's brewed: Funky Buddha doesn't put the beer into regular distribution. They don't release a batch until after the last NFL team loses each season. They've been brewing this beer for six years, and the earliest that mark has been reached since the beer launched was Week 4, so the brewery has to have it ready by the third or fourth week of the season. They send a bottle to the coach of the team who beat the last remaining undefeated team. Last year, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton got a bottle after defeating the Los Angeles Rams.
Make Me Wanna Stout | Big Ditch Brewing Co. | Buffalo, New York
Tribute to: Bills' fight song, "Shout"
Beer style: Coffee and cream stout
Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.2%
When it was brewed: It was first made in 2016, but Big Ditch started canning it only last year. It became so popular around Western New York that it eventually became available year-round.
Why a coffee and cream stout? Here's what president and co-founder Matt Kahn had to say: "We were looking for something that was good for pregaming. Pregaming is a well-partaken-in tradition for Buffalo Bills fans, you could say, both at home and at the stadium. We were sort of thinking, 'Hey, wake up, have your coffee with your beer, too.' The ABV is light enough that you can get a few in you, get some caffeine in you, too. It's a good wake-up-and-go beer. It's almost like a can of alcoholic iced coffee."
Key ingredients: Coffee (the beans come from a local roaster called Public Espresso), milk, sugar, roasted barley, oatmeal, U.S. Northern Brewer hops
Skolberry | Remedy Brewing Co. | Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Tribute to: The Vikings' 2017 playoff run
Beer style: Blueberry wheat
Why Skolberry? Remedy's three owners are all massive Vikings fans. For the 2017 playoff run, just for fun, they put together a beer to celebrate. They settled on a blueberry wheat because of its purple tinge and sweetness. It ended up being a much bigger success than they thought it would be. (They went through 10 barrels, or 20 kegs, leading up to the playoffs.) They'll bring it back for the third straight year before the start of the 2019 season.
Why so popular? First off, there are a lot of Vikings fans in Sioux Falls. But Remedy's president and CEO, Matthew Hastad, also notes that Skolberry is an approachable, easy-drinking beer that has appeal beyond craft beer fans.
Key ingredients: Tons of blueberry puree and Hallertauer Mittelfrüh hops
AK41 | Miel Brewery & Taproom | New Orleans, Louisiana
Tribute to: Saints RB Alvin Kamara
Beer style: American cream ale
Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7%
Why this recipe was chosen: During the Saints' 2018 playoff run, the brewers at Miel decided they wanted to do something Saints-related. Kamara loves Airhead Extremes, and so the idea to brew a sour beer using Airheads was born. They sold 17 kegs in about four weeks. The most popular response from drinkers: "I didn't expect to like this beer." It has a nice sourness to it, but it doesn't really taste like candy.
Key ingredients: Airhead Extremes, of course. Ten pounds of Airhead Extremes went directly into the boil -- that averaged out to about a half pound of candy per keg. The citric acid from the candy made the beer tart, as they intended. This marked the first time that Miel had brewed with candy. It spawned other ideas, like beers using Sour Jacks Watermelon and Sour Punch Straw Blue Raspberry.
What's next? Miel is considering brewing the beer for 2019, and they'd like Kamara to come and help them out. Part of the proceeds would be directed toward a charity of Kamara's choosing.
#ATTR (Ale to the Redskins) | Devils Backbone Brewing Co. | Lexington, Virginia
Tribute to: The "spirit of the Washington Redskins and their fans"
Beer style: There are two -- golden ale and burgundy ale
Why Ale to the Redskins? It's a play on the team's fight song, "Hail to the Redskins," which was first performed in the stadium in 1938.
Golden ale alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.6%
Burgundy ale alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.2%
Golden ale tasting notes: Wine-like aromas and pops of citrus with a crisp and bready finish that balances with hop flavors. Key ingredients include Citra and Hallertau Blanc hops.
Burgundy ale tasting notes: Hoppy red ale with flavorful tropical hop presence and slight hop bite. Key ingredients include Amarillo, Mosaic and Simcoe hops.
The Noise | Elysian Brewing Co. | Seattle, Washington
Tribute to: The Seahawks' famously loud fans
Beer style: Pale ale
Brewing for a good cause: A portion of the proceeds from The Noise is donated to solving homelessness in Seattle.
Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.1%
Tasting notes: Hints of citrus, candied orange and vanilla.
Key ingredients: Hallertau Blanc, Mandarina Bavaria and Northern Brewer hops
Fitzmagic | St. Pete Brewing Co. | St. Petersburg, Florida
Tribute to: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Beer style: Double IPA
Why Fitzmagic? Back in September, the brewery already had a Double IPA in the works but didn't have a name for it. Enter Fitzpatrick, who rattled off three 400-yard games in a row in Weeks 1-3, and Fitzmagic was born. The first batch was seven barrels large, and they went through it in just four weeks. The second batch was called "Fitzmagic II: Return of the Fitz," but didn't sell as quickly -- likely because Fitzpatrick lost the magic ... and the starting QB job to Jameis Winston.
Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.2% (second batch was 8.9%)
Key ingredients: Mosaic, Galaxy and Citra hops
The tributes that should come next
Proposed beer: Rodgers' Chugger
Aaron Rodgers can do many things, but one thing he can't do, as we learned during the NBA playoffs, is chug a beer. Maybe the Packers quarterback just didn't have the right beer. Maybe we can help him with his own watered-down, American-style light lager. Think Natty Light, but lighter. This one is meant to be consumed in volume, and quickly.
Proposed beer: The Gronk
Is there really not a tribute beer for Rob Gronkowski? Sacrilegious, if true. The NFL's ultimate party animal needs a tribute. For this one, we're thinking house music, strobe lights and sunglasses. We're thinking a crisp pilsner infused with Red Bull and a touch of vodka. It'll keep the party going.
Proposed beer: We're Here, L.A., Deal With It
The city of Los Angeles has been generally apathetic about the emergence of two professional football teams. The Rams were fine; the Chargers joining them felt unnecessary. But they're both here, they'll soon move into a prodigious new stadium together, and guess what, they're good. Let's celebrate it with a milk stout infused with Horchata, a staple drink of a Mexican populace that dominates L.A.
Proposed beer: Yeast Mode
If the people at Miel can incorporate Airheads into a beer for Kamara, why can't we do the same for Marshawn Lynch's love of Skittles? Let's go with Skittles Sweet Heat, which Lynch once hilariously distributed at a senior living community. We'll put the Skittles into a Belgian dubbel. It'd be perfect for all those nights staying up late playing video games. Just be sure to drink plenty of water.
Proposed beer: Cleveland Brown Ale
There's a heightened level of excitement surrounding the Cleveland Browns this season. It feels different. It feels real. That's worth drinking to. These Browns fans have suffered long enough, so let's reward them with a very strong brown ale (of course). Let's go with 12% alcohol by volume -- in honor of the 12 years that have separated them from a winning record.