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Rep your team! Craft beers to kick off football season

The NFL season is finally upon us, and there’s nothing quite as delightful as rooting for your favorite team with a tasty craft beer in your hand. In honor of the kickoff of the 2012 NFL season, we’ve come up with 32 local craft beers to enjoy during the games, one each for every NFL team. To give these recommendations local fan flair, we’ve enlisted the readers of Beer and Whiskey Brothers
Grab the right brew to support your team this season!
Grab the right brew to support your team this season!Getty Images stock

The NFL season is finally upon us, and there’s nothing quite as delightful as rooting for your favorite team with a tasty craft beer in your hand. 

In honor of the kickoff of the 2012 NFL season, we’ve come up with 32 local craft beers to enjoy during the games, one each for every NFL team. To give these recommendations local fan flair, we’ve enlisted the readers of Beer and Whiskey Brothers to share the craft beers they enjoy while watching their local team play. 

We asked the fans to follow a loose set of rules: the beer should be brewed within 100 miles or so of where the team plays, it has to be easy to find, and the beer’s alcohol by volume (ABV) should be at or below 6% so you can make it to the third quarter without needing a nap.

We received many great suggestions, a selection of which are below. Not every team got a fan selection, so I’ve chimed in on those, and many teams received multiple recommendations, and I tried to pick the most entertaining and informative ones (a hard thing to do in many cases). You can find the complete list of fan recommendationshere at the Beer and Whiskey Brothers website.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: Ithaca Beer Co. Cascazilla (7% ABV) American Amber/Red

B&WB reader HopDevil says, “Great malt character into a wonderful hop finish. Little over the 6% but you need a little extra as a Bills fan. If only the Bills could finish as well as the hops.”

Miami Dolphins: Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale (5.5% ABV) English Brown Ale

This English Brown Ale is brewed with oatmeal flakes, resulting in richly roasted, chocolatey beer that’s smooth as velvet, but won’t bog you down.  This recommendation breaks the 100-mile rule, but a beer this good will make a season full of “hard knocks” go a little more smoothly.

New England Patriots: New England Brewing Gandhi Bot (8.8% ABV) Double IPA

Reader Brett says, “This Double IPA will help you celebrate the return of the ‘Double Trouble’ of tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski to long term contracts. Light in color with a citrusy hop finish, at 8.8% ABV this one breaks the 3rd rule, however, like most Patriots fans, I think I’d rather NOT remember the 4th quarter of last season’s Super Bowl, so this beer is the perfect companion!”

New York Jets: High Point Brewing Co’s Ramstein Classic Wheat (5.5% ABV) Weiss Beer

High Point isthe way to go here, because this beer will probably be the “high point” of watching the Jets struggle this year. This dark wheat is has a smooth roasted flavor, with awesome hints of clove and apple.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: DuClaw Brewing Co. Black Lightening (6.4%) American Black Ale

B&WB reader Megan thinks the beers from DuClaw brewing are a great match for the Ravens. With its big roasted character and piney hop finish, a glassful of Black Lightening would be a nice compliment to watching a little “Purple Pain” be meted out at M&T Bank Stadium.

Cincinnati Bengals: Moerlein Brewing Co. Barbarossa (5%) Munich Dunkel Lager

No Cincinnati-brewed beer fits the Bengals better than Moerlein Brewing Co.’s Barbarossa, a malt-forward Bavarian-style Double Dark Lager. On its label you see Barbarossa, a redheaded king reminiscent of a certain ginger signal caller.  According to German myth, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa sleeps in an enchanted cavern underneath the Kyffhäuser Hills until “the ravens cease to fly,” upon which time he will make a triumphant return. Just throw in “until the steel turns to rust” and you’ll have two omens signaling that time has come for the Bengals to win their division.

Cleveland Browns: Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (5.8%) American Porter 

Chad says, “A porter that all other porters should be compared to — a superb blend of coffee and chocolate flavors to go along with a velvety texture. Each sip makes you smile and warms you from the inside. You’ll need that to cope with the Browns’ offense.”

Pittsburgh Steelers: Penn Brewing Co. Kaiser Pils (4.5%) North German Pils

Reader Simmons Lauderdale thinks Penn Brewing Company’s Kaiser Pils goes great with Terrible Towels and the most violent player in the NFL. Like Todd Haley’s new offense, Kaiser Pils packs a balanced attack, with a bready malt base that’s nicely contrasted by a traditional German hop finish.

AFC South

Houston Texans: Shiner Bock (4.4%) Bock

B&WB reader Joe says, “Lance Armstrong’s favorite beer is my favorite too. It tastes like a German beer with Lonestar flavor.” Of course, if the Texans take after Lance, they’ll win every game by 35 points — or all be suspended. 

Indianapolis Colts: Sun King Osiris Pale Ale (5.6%) American Pale Ale

The future of the Indianapolis Colts hinges on rookie QB Andrew Luck, who played his college ball in Northern California. So why not watch him learn on the job while sipping an Indy-brewed beer that’s packed with west coast flavor? Sun King Brewery’s Osiris Pale Ale is a juicy brew that balances citrusy and floral hop profile with a bready backbone of malt.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Bold City Brewery Mad Manatee (6.5%) American IPA

This pine-forward hop bomb is one of Bold City’s most popular beers and is brewed just a few miles from the Jaguar’s stadium, making it a truly local flavor. 

Tennessee Titans: Yazoo Brewing Co. Hop Project (variable ABV) American IPA

Reader Scott G. recommends this beer that’s always changing, just like his Titans. He says, “The recipe (or roster) is never the same twice. It’s never bad but some times (or seasons), it’s awesome. Other times, it makes you think it should be better than it is.” He adds, “Let’s ignore that the Titans can just absolutely crush your soul in ways a revolving recipe beer never can.”

AFC West

Denver Broncos: Odell IPA (7%) American IPA

B&WB reader AJ says, “Brewed by one of the oldest breweries in Colorado, Odell’s IPA not only bears the beautiful Broncos colors (and an Elephant bucking like a bronco), it’s brewed with Rocky Mountain snow melt and boasts an amazing hop aroma and flavor that is bold, but not bitter, and has an ABV of 7% (the same number as legendary quarterback, John Elway).”

Chris Bruns also makes a case for Chaka, a Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed through a collaboration between Colorado’s Oskar Blues and Indiana’s Sun King breweries, saying the beer represents, “something great from Indiana influencing Colorado, like Peyton moving from Indy to Denver.” It might be the most fitting beer on this entire list!

Kansas City Chiefs: Free State Brewing Copperhead Pale Ale (6%) American IPA

Reader Brian Divine from The Roaming Pint thinks the sweet-then-bitter flavor of this beer embodies a season spent watching the Chiefs, saying, “It starts with sweet expectations only to be countered by bitter results.”

Oakland Raiders: Trumer Pils (4.8%) German Pilsner

Kevin from the bay area says “Coming in at just under 5% ABV this Berkeley brewed “import” is full of flavor so it will distract you from the Raiders losing, and has a crispness that will keep you from getting beer fatigued. Also it has a silver label.” 

San Diego Chargers: Green Flash Saison Diego (4.2%) Farmhouse Ale

If you dig watching the ‘Bolts flash their talent on the field, then why not enjoy a Green Flash in your glass? This bright and spicy Belgian farmhouse beer shares its name with the city the team (currently) calls home. If Belgian beers aren’t your bag, then check out Green Flash’s San Diego beer series, which includes 30th Street Pale Ale, Park West Porter, and East Village Pilsner.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: Deep Ellum Brewing Co. Dreamcrusher  (9.7%) Double Rye IPA

With all the talk of “windows” closing in Dallas, there’s a lot of pressure on quarterback Tony Romo.  And we all know what happens when Romo feels the squeeze – his fingers spontaneously excrete butter.  Might as well give in to the inevitable and have a glass of Deep Ellum’s Dreamcrusher Double Rye IPA, a resinous explosion of hoppy goodness with a lovely rye kick.  Plus, its 9.7% alcohol by volume should help take the sting out of another year of near misses.

New York Giants: Sixpoint Autumnation (6.7%) Pumpkin Ale

Giants fan Mark recommends Sixpoint Autumnation, saying, “Aptly named for Eli’s tosses to the Nicks/Cruz combo, often result in 6 points! Also a great beer in bomber cans with pumpkin and spice notes, perfect for football season.”  The fact that all Sixpoint beers come in cans also makes them great companions for tailgating.

Philadelphia Eagles: Flying Fish Exit 4 (10.2%) Belgian-style Tripel

Philly area beer aficionado the Alemonger says Flying Fish Exit 4 is the perfect beer, because, “It’s versatile like the Eagles offense. Exit 4 is spicy, complex and citrusy with a warming finish for cold tailgate parties. It’s a more interesting companion to a cheesesteak or wings and pairs well with brats and onions, and reminds fans of that N.Y. team that rents stadium space up the Turnpike that Eagles fans drink to a higher standard!”

Washington Redskins: Flying Dog Pearl Necklace (5.5%) Oyster Stout

Flying Dog Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout is a roasted and earthy brew with notes of chocolate and oatmeal and just a hint of brine from the oysters. Plus, the proceeds from the beer go towards oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: Goose Island Nut Brown Ale (5.3%) American Brown Ale

Light enough to drink a few during the game but hearty enough to warm you on a crisp Chicago day, Goose Island’s Nut Brown Ale is a toasty, chocolaty treat.  Plus it’s brewed with Victory malts (among others), so it’s just the thing to raise in celebration of a Cutler-to-Marshall touchdown strike.  Just keep a bottle of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout handy, as it’s 14.5% alcohol by volume will help ease the pain if Urlacher’s knee gives up the ghost.

Detroit Lions: Atwater Block Brewery Vanilla Java Porter (6%) American Porter 

Reader Josh Wolf says, “When it gets cold in Michigan and football is on, I want a dark, vanilla-roasted beer. And a La-Z-Boy with four or five cup holders so I don’t have to move.”

Green Bay Packers:  New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red (4%) Fruit Beer 

ANYTHING from New Glarus is a great companion to the Packers, because these awesome brews can only be found in the Packers’ home state. Wisconsin Belgian Red is a world class cherry-infused masterpiece of puckering tartness and rich malt sweetness.  Plus it pairs wonderfully with rich, smooth cheese(head)s. 

Minnesota Vikings: Summit Brewing Co. Extra Pale Ale (5.3%) English Pale Ale 

Reader and Vikings fan Jerry Carlson suggests Summit Extra Pale Ale, calling it, “The finest ale available in the states.” While that’s a bold statement, this Minnesota brew is a well-rounded session beer that manages to be both very drinkable and a little complex at the same time. 

NFC South

Atlanta Flacons: SweetWater Exodus Porter (5.9%) American Porter

The Atlanta Falcons haven’t won a playoff game since Jan.15, 2004. Let’s lift a SweetWater Exodus Porter to their hopes for the future, and enjoy its roasted malt flavor and hints of semi-sweet chocolate and coffee.  And let the “exodus” in the name remind coach Mike Smith and GM Tom Dimitroff that they might be making one after the season if the team doesn’t win a game when it counts most.

Carolina Panthers: Foothills Brewing Co. Carolina Blonde (4.3%) Cream Ale 

Reader Craig says, “Just like the Panthers, Carolina Blonde is named to identify itself with both of the Carolinas… Blonde is a light easy-drinking, but well crafted cream ale with only a touch of hops, so it is accessible to both craft and non-craft beer drinkers.”

New Orleans Saints: Abita S.O.S. (7.0%) Weizen Pilsner 

For me, Abita is THE taste of New Orleans, so choosing this brewery as a companion for the Saints is a no-brainer.  Even easier is picking the most appropriate beer from their line up: S.O.S., because if any NFL team is in trouble this year it’s the Saints.  As an added bonus, Abita donates 75 cents for every bottle sold to the restoration of the environment after the gulf oil spill.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. Saison Athene (7.5%) Farmhouse Ale

Saint Somewhere’s Saison Athene is a very grown-up beer, and therefore a perfect match for a Bucs team that’s growing up in a hurry. New head coach Greg Schiano has instilled a spirit of discipline to the club that’s been lacking for the last few years.  This is a fine beer to sip while Bucs fans wait to see if this new approach bears fruit, with its notes of fresh rosemary, chamomile and a little pop of black pepper.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals: Chili Beer Co Cave Creek Chili Beer (4.2%) Chile Beer 

Let’s cut to the chase here – this beer is awful.  Unfortunately, so are the Cardinals, who have been searching for an answer at quarterback ever since Kurt Warner retired in 2010.  It doesn’t seem like fans of the team will be getting any answers this year, but maybe drinking a beer this bad (a watery stew of malts and hops infected with a rancid chili pepper) will make the rather ordinary Cardinals seems above average by comparison.

San Francisco 49ers Bear Republic Pete Brown – Tribute Ale (6.3%) American Brown Ale 

B&WB reader Diss Content waxes puntastic when he says, “What better way to enjoy the Niners in California, than with a six pack of Bear Republic? … ‘Rush’ to your ‘spot’ and enjoy that Pete’s Brown Ale you’re ‘holding’. Appreciate the ‘formation’ of bubbles which constitute the ‘head; coach’ others to experience this fine craft beer. Be sure to ‘handoff’ a bottle or two, which will encourage others ‘overtime’, to ‘pass’ on the same ‘draft choice’.”

Seattle Seahawks: Mac & Jack’s African Amber (5.2%) Amber Ale

If there’s one thing I know about beer in Washington State, it’s that the “good stuff” rarely travels far from home.  The same can be said for the Seahawks, who play great at home, but don’t really travel all that well.  Mac and Jack’s African Amber is a creamy, unfiltered amber ale that’s only available on tap in the Northwest. Its smooth and floral charms make it one of Seattle’s most favorite beers, a perfect companion for Seattle’s local team.

St. Louis Rams: Schlafly Pumpkin Ale (8%) Pumpkin Ale 

Enjoy it while you can, St. Louis, both the seasonal delight that is Schlafly Pumpkin Ale and your hometown Rams who, rumor has it, may be soon ditching the Gateway Arch for the sun and surf of Los Angeles. Time will tell on whether the team stays where it is, but the clock is definitely ticking on the Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, a pie-in-a-glass brewed with pumpkin squash and spiced with nutmeg and cloves.

Jim Galligan is co-founder of the Beer and Whiskey Brothers blog, where he and his brother Don cover the ever-evolving world of craft beer and distilled spirits. Follow him on Twitter. 

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