Sports and beer have been great friends for decades. Whether it’s athletes appearing in beer commercials or simply a couple pals grabbing cold ones at the ballpark, the worlds of games and brews are clearly a winning—sorry—combination. This week, we asked the Fervent Few how they like to enjoy them together.
Mark De Leeuw: “I am a bit too young for the full sports bar experience, I think. In the rare cases that I’ll watch a game at the bar, I’ll just have something basic from the tap. If I’m at home and the mood strikes me, I’ll have something crafty. Rarely if ever do I pre-plan my drinking to match the game, though.”
Manny Gumina: “I drink what I normally drink when watching sports. There's nothing better than watching the Packers beat up the Bears while enjoying a few New Glarus beers and sharp Wisconsin cheddar!”
Caldwell Bishop: “As a fan of the greatest college football program in the mid-Atlantic region, when living in the DC area I would go to Ragtime (a WVU bar) to catch the games. I went there because they had a decent selection of local beers, good food, and of course, it is a WVU bar. So the atmosphere was great.
There are definitely other options for watching games, but I’d rather watch at home than go somewhere with mediocre food. The beer at the bar is less a factor for me. Sure, I’d rather be able to get a craft beer I’ll enjoy. But if the food is good, they have the game on, and the atmosphere’s decent, I don’t mind drinking a Natty Boh or not drinking at all.
If I’m watching a game at home, I’ll buy craft beers that me and whoever else is watching with me may enjoy.”
Rob Cartwright: “For the Super Bowl, we have a tradition of drinking beer from both team's cities. We've found no connection, however, between which beer is better and which team is better.
As for sports bars, I've found that, with the exception of some national chains, most have a pretty nice selection these days. Our neighborhood pub has enough TVs that you can catch any game imaginable while enjoying some good beer. On the flip side, my alumni association meets up to watch football games (Go Dawgs!) at a chain whose name I won't say, but Blue Moon and Shock Top are their 'exotic' beers.”
Richard Maletto: “This is a fun topic. As a race fan, when you go to the race track, you can bring a cooler. What’s been fun for me is seeing more craft beers in cans. While I largely prefer glass, I can’t have glass at the track. And I’m burnt on macro beer at the track. So now I go to the store and try to find certain styles. I learned the hard way don’t go overboard on beers with high acidity. It can make for a rough night when you’re drinking for 12-20 hours. As far as sports bars, I know which ones offer a good selection. In this town, most of the sports bars have minimal craft selections. Buffalo Wild Wings is a prime example: 30 taps or something and outside of five crafts, the rest of the 25 beers are from 3-4 breweries. Mostly the bigs, obviously. Personally, I prefer to watch at home. Risking a DUI would be career-altering for me, and it’s not worth it. I have gone so far as to pack a cooler to sit next to me in the lazy boy.”
Ross O’Neill: “There was a time a few years ago when I would host some of my friends (I have a small place) every Sunday for Football Sunday. I would set up a different menu each week, and would brew beers that paired well with most foods, and were easier drinking/lower ABV so folk weren't getting blitzed by the afternoon games. I moved my kegerator into the living room and the two beers in there were hit hard, along with other beers that my friends brought. One of the rules of Football Sunday was no macros allowed! I now only do it once or twice a season.”
Mattias Varg: “I’m a big hockey fan. And I normally don’t even drink beer when I watch a game. I’m so focused on the game that I forget to drink my beer. But if my team (Skellefteå AIK) wins, I celebrate with beer."
James Hernandez: “I think sports and beer go together great. I try not to overdo the beer selections so I can pay attention the game. Usually a good Lager, Stout, or IPA will do. Coffee Stouts for early morning soccer matches are a usual favorite. If I’m out at a pub, bar, or at a sporting event, I will try and grab something local. I find that worrying too much about the beer selections for the game turns it into a beer experience.”
Lana Svitankova: “I'm not a fan of sports (in term of watching games), but I try to keep an eye on major events to avoid visiting venues during that time or go to places without screens. I feel really uncomfortable amidst a noisy, agitated crowd.”
Colleen O’Sullivan: “I'm a fan of drinking beers while playing sports. We have a ‘BIH’ or ‘beverage in hand’ rule for many games that are played at our house, including cornhole and dutch billiards. There is not really a preference for brand on this. Just make sure you have some drink in that cup.”
Rob Steuart: “For me, it's something that is smashable but tasty so you can stay on it all day and still pay attention to the game. Our local stadium signed a contract with a local brewery for supply. They do lower-ABV versions of most of their beers (as we have some draconian regulations around supply at events), so people can still get a great tasting beverage.”
Robbie Wendeborn: “I've found that the time it takes to play a full 18-hole round of golf is exactly as long as it takes to leisurely drink one six pack of All Day IPA. When I lived out west it was easier to drink beers and watch sports out because games start earlier. On the East Coast, games start closer to when I'm wrapping up my drinking. Going to a dedicated team bar is the best way to watch sports outside of going to a stadium.”
Willie Winters: “When going out to watch SummerSlam, I stick to lower-ABV ales. They pair well with hot wings. For late-night gaming, I grab something with a higher ABV. Nothing better than a team kill with a Stout in your hand.”
Mark Twig: “I love sports, but shite beer has put me off attending events. I can no longer cope with drinking mass-sponsored bland beer in a plastic glass for a stupidly high price. Craft cans in the trouser leg is the way forward for now, but being made to feel like a teenager getting into a disco at my age is just silly.”
Josh Mills: “Sports and beer is a rather broad category, so I’ll break this down into parts.
First, with the proliferation of craft beer bars and taprooms, no matter where I’ve lived at least one of them has some connection to whatever event I’ve wanted to watch. Often the owner is an alumnus of that school or used to live in that city. It’s always some place not known as a ‘sports bar,’ but come gameday, the place goes all out with specials and has a large grouping of fans there. For the rest of the week it goes back to its normal vibe. So, I haven’t seen the need to go to a sports bar in nearly a decade.
As for live sports, I often won’t go back to a stadium unless they have a craft option. Padres Stadium was great for it, with an entire row of local breweries selling. Many of the other newer build stadiums I’ve been do the same thing, just on a smaller scale than the PETCO Park. Also, at any tailgates I’ve been to, craft has been ubiquitous, often with the out-of-town crowd bringing their local stuff with them as a point of pride.
Playing sports has been more hit or miss. In some places, I’ve raced sailboats where there would have been post Regatta Dark and Stormy’s 10 years ago, but it’s all been replaced by kegs of local IPA and Kolsch. I've found that surprising since the boat owners and organizers are often a generation older than I am. Other places still have AB InBev sponsorship hooks in deep, so everything from the drinks to the prizes will be Bud Light-branded. All of the other social leagues I’ve been in have had just as much of a split.”
How about you? Are you hanging out at the local bar catching a football game or stuffing craft cans in your pants? Let us know. Join the Fervent Few, support GBH, and meet a whole bunch of like-minded beer lovers. Everybody wins (sorry).