Best drinks for ‘Beer Bowl’ 2016

It’s Super Bowl time again and this year Colorado will square off against the Carolinas in both footballing and brewing terms.

Super Bowl I NFL

Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I in 1967. They won the game and beat the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II the following year.

Taking place at ‘The Big Bellbottom’, a.k.a. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on 7 February, Super Bowl 50 will see Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos and Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers will battle it out to determine who will lift the Lombardi Trophy*.

As ever, the Super Bowl is a good excuse to hold your own ‘Beer Bowl’, making the most of craft brewed suds (or other drinks) from the home state of the competing NFC and AFC champions.

Last year’s Beer Bowl saw mighty Washington take on venerable Massachusetts with the home of Sam Adams and the craft beer movement eventually emerging triumphant.

The year before that was a truly mighty craft beer showdown between Colorado and Washington with the Broncos and Seahawks, albeit one that failed to live up to its reputation on the field as the Seahawks handed the Rocky Mountain men a painful 43-8 thrashing.

In fact, Super Bowl 50 bears many similarities to that Super Bowl XLVIII encounter and not least because it includes the Broncos.

Quarterback Peyton Manning, now the oldest man to play in a Super Bowl at the age of 39, is surely set to retire after this game and it represents probably his last chance to finish his playing career with more than one Super Bowl victory.

Meanwhile, like the Seahawks in 2014, the Carolina Panthers have been to the Super Bowl before (SBXXXVIII in 2004, it of the famous Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction”) but have never won, so this would be a franchise first.

Despite his reputation as one of the game’s great players, Manning and the Broncos are going into the game as marginal underdogs against a young and dynamic Panthers team with ‘SuperCam’ Newton under centre.

Whereas in Super Bowl XLVIII it was Peyton Manning’s record-setting Denver offense taking on Seattle’s equally impressive defense, Denver will need to lean heavily on its defensive squad this time around to contain the rip-roaring Carolina running game and Cam Newton’s own impressive athleticism and accurate passing.

super-bowl-50-fsStats and percentages aside however, in craft beer terms (the most important measure of any sporting event), Colorado outperforms its east coast opponents by the proverbial country mile.

Figures from the Brewers Association show that Colorado has a grand total of 235 craft breweries (6.1 per capita) producing 1.6 million barrels of craft beer a year, a generous 13.6 gallons of craft suds per adult in the state. That’s not including the amount of beer produced by the rather large Coors Brewing operation in the state.

Both North and South Carolina together by contrast can only boast of 132 craft breweries producing 428,734 barrels per annum. The bulk of the Carolinas’ craft industry is based in North Carolina (as are the Panthers) where there are 101 craft breweries (1.4 per capita) producing 372,473 barrels a year – just 1.6 gallons per adult.

Despite signs that wine is an increasingly popular drink at Super Bowl parties, beer remains the beverage of choice. Nielsen figures show that spending on beer in the week leading up to the Super Bowl weekend rises by an extra US$40m.

Americans alone will drink something like 325 million gallons of beer during the game on Sunday, enough to fill 500 Olympic Swimming pools according to calculations by the Stevens Institute of Technology made back in 2014. They will also eat around 1.3 billion chicken wings, which when laid end to end is enough to stretch from the Broncos’ home ground at ‘Mile High’ to the Panthers’ stadium in Charlotte 53 times.

Of course the majority of suds sunk while enjoying Super Bowl 50 will be a brand from one of the brewing giants such as Molson Coors or, no surprise, AB InBev.

Anheuser Busch recently confirmed that it resigned a deal with the NFL to remain the official beer sponsor of the league and the Super Bowl through to 2022. It has also shelled out a good $30m for just three minutes of advertising during the Super Bowl broadcast at a new record of US$5m per 30-second advertising slot.

To celebrate the 50th Super Bowl and the company’s 28 consecutive years of sponsorship, Anheuser Busch has rolled out limited edition packaging for its Bud Light cans featuring the teams and the Super Bowls they’ve won – though they may not prove as popular with those fans whose franchises are yet to win a Lombardi trophy.

Anheuser busch super bowl cansAnyway, in the comfort of your homes you’re free to drink whatever you want and remember, if you can’t get hold of any of the drinks we’re about to recommend, the game’s being played in California, driving force of the US wine industry and the biggest craft beer producing state in the country. Anchor Steam and Lagunitas shouldn’t be too hard to track down – here’s a reminder of some top Californian brews from when the 49ers went to Super Bowl XLVII back in 2013.

So, whether you’re a Broncos or a Panthers fan or perhaps just plain curious about what this whole ‘football’ thing is, over the following pages you’ll find the best drinks with which to display your allegiance and a rudimentary ‘bluffer’s guide’ to the game.

Kick off is at 6.30pm Eastern Standard Time on Sunday 7 February on CBS. In the UK the game is being aired on the BBC and Sky Sports from 11.30pm and in Australia on ESPN and 7Mate at 10.30am Monday 8 February (AEDT).


*So named after the famous coach of the Green Bay Packers. He led the Packers to victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the first ever Super Bowl in 1967 and the following Super Bowl over the Oakland Raiders in 1968 (each Super Bowl is counted as part of the previous year’s season, so the Super Bowl I was part of the 1966 season, Super Bowl II that of 1967 etc.)

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