Beer and football.
Is there a more perfect combination?
Whether enjoying a pitcher of suds with friends on a Thursday evening or finishing that last bottle while winding down on Sunday night, beer and football represents a match made by the gods.
But football is competition. And people love to debate their favorite beers. So lets put the two together .
Here are all NFL cities ranked by the quality of beer, from worst to first, based on the breweries located within the team’s metro footprint.
The Bottom Dweller Division
To come up with my list I looked up breweries in the metro area and compared it with beers listed on Beer Advocate’s top 250 beers in the United States. These cities not only had zero beers on the list but had fewer quality craft breweries.
The city of Nashville is known for music and food. It’s not known for beer. But don’t worry, you have some of the best BBQ anywhere. Just chase the beer down with a fantastic sauce.
It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s sticky. In this kind of climate you don’t need a fancy IPA or heavy stout. You just need something light and cold. Thankfully cheap beer is perfect for this.
It’s strange to think of Jacksonville as the largest populated city in Florida. What’s not strange to think of is the sheer lack of great beer.
The biggest name in “craft” beer in Phoenix is Four Peaks. Which is owned by Budweiser. And it tastes like Budweiser does craft beer. There are some suitable craft breweries in the area, but nothing that can compete with the bigger beer NFL cities.
No, these two cities are not in the same metro area. But they are in the same metro zone of lacking craft beer star power. So instead of writing the same blurb for two Texas cities I combined the two.
At Least You’re Kind Of Trying Division
Realistically there isn’t a ton difference between this division and the Bottom Dwellers division. But I wanted to split these up somehow. So here you go.
Hey, at least you have good weather. Well, if you like a billion feet of snow.
When diving into this list my biggest surprise was how poorly the Pennsylvania cities did. None of the major NFL towns had any real brewery footprint (and while I know Yuengling has a cult beer following it’s not something that really holds up to the better rated craft beers out there.
Somehow you managed to win a Super Bowl Championship with Trent Dilfer. Shouldn’t that be enough?
If only 3 Floyds was closer to Indy. But in reality it’s closer to the Chicago metro area than Indianapolis (instead 3 Floyds is in no man’s Muncie…Larry/Jerry’s favorite vacation spot in Parks & Rec).
When you really stop and look at it Green Bay is such a strange spot to have a major NFL franchise. But it’s there so we have to count it. It’s a small town without the craft beer lineup of other cities. But when you go from Favre to Rogers it doesn’t matter what beer you’re drinking.
Cities With A Beer Pulse Division
Alright, now we’re starting to get somewhere. The cities in this division have either at least one beer listed in the top 250 American beers, or there is a well respected brewery within the city limits.
You can thank Aslin Brewery for this spot. Otherwise it would have been in the previous division.
Atlanta doesn’t have a beer in the top 250 (currently). But off the strength of Sweet Water and Terrapin it made it into this division.
KC and Atlanta are interchangeable in these two spots. Neither had a beer in the top 250 but each had respected breweries. I just happen to give the nod to Boulevard over Sweet Water and Terrapin, which is why I rated it one spot better.
This ranking is a bit debatable. It could easily slip back behind ATL and KC. But Heist Brewer does have beers in the top 250, which is why it made it to this spot.
Going into this list I would have thought Seattle would have been higher. But it’s not. Just Fremont Brewing is in the top 250.
Oh, if only the Lions would move to Grand Rapids. Then it would probably bee in the top 5 NFL beer cities. But it’s not. It’s in Detroit. And as such only Kuhnlenn Brewery is in the top 250. But I’m giving the nod to Detroit over Seattle and Charlotte because Stroh’s is back! And Stroh’s is going to be the new hipster Pabst 2.0 (and Stroh’s happens to be owned by Pabst).
Cleveland has one brewery in the top 250 with Fat Head’s. But it also has Great Lake’s Brewing Company, which I find is highly underrated as of late. It’s one of the older, classic craft breweries. The Elliot Ness Vienna Lager is one of the best examples of the style you’ll find.
Running a brewery in San Fran where the rent is a billion dollars per square foot is costly. Which is why Russian River is located north in Santa Rosa. It’s a stretch to include Santa Rosa in the metro footprint, but enough people live there and drive to work in San Fran that I’ll let it slide.
Division Of Champions
All the cities in this division have at least two breweries with a beer in the top 250, and many have additional breweries with national credibility.
The Dolphins might be floundering, but the beer scene is surprisingly good. J. Waterfield is a solid brewery, and technically Funky Buddha is in its metro area (I personally think that’s a stretch, as it is a good hour north of Fort Lauderdale…but Miami claims it in the metro area). M.I.A. is a fun local brewery as well.
Thought NY would compete for the top spot? I did too. But many of the top New York breweries are not in the New York City metro area. However, both Other Half and Evil Twin have beers in the top 250, and Brooklyn Brewery, much like Great Lakes, is one of those craft beer classics (try the Chocolate Stout).
For anyone outside of the Twin-Cities Minneapolis might seem to come out of left field, but to those in the area this isn’t a shock. With Lift Bridge and Surly located here you instantly have two of the best craft breweries in the country.
Tampa and Minneapolis could be swapped. But Cigar City has a few more top 250 beers than Surly, so I gave the nod to Cigar City (plus it’s almost as close to Funky Buddha as Miami is).
Originally I had LA with a better ranking, but as I went back through it I brought them a bit back down to earth. Yes, there are about as many breweries in LA as there are people, but despite this many there are only two breweries in the top 250: Bottle Logic and The Bruery. Other spots like Modern Times and Golden Road (which I’m personally not a huge fan of, but to each their own) are there, and while Firestone Walker does have a tap house here, the brewery is located farther north.
Denver comes in swinging. Avery and Oskar Blues are two of the best breweries in the country. And toss in Blue Moon, which realistically is the “craft” beer most of us were introduced to first (it’s the gateway craft beer) for good measure.
Only the final two on the list had more than two breweries with beers in the top 250. Chicago came in with Goose Island, Revolution and Pipeworks, all of which have at least one top 250 beer. And lets face it, you can use all the beer you can get your hands on when watching Chicago Bears QB play.
You know that kid at school that always seemed to win everything? Yeah, well, Boston is that kid. Yes, Sam Adams is located here and actually has one beer on the top 250, but the real reason Boston is tops is because both Tree House and Trillium are in the metro area. And when it comes to the best of the best IPAs anywhere in the world, Tree House and Trillium take the cake.
So here’s the thing. Boston is the technical number 1. But if the Chargers hadn’t of gone brain dead and remained in San Diego it would be the top spot. Sure, Trillium and Tree House are in Boston, but San Diego has The Lost Abbey, AleSmith, Alpine, and Stone (each with a beer in the top 250). Plus it has Mission and Ballast Point.
And, quick side note. Grand Rapids, Michigan has 3 top 250 beer breweries, which would have placed it likely in front of Chicago, as did Portland….so someone needs to hurry up and open NFL franchises in those two cities, stat!