When the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos this Sunday, Vegas won’t be the only ones playing the odds. North Carolina’s brewers want a piece of the pie, and they’re backing their home team the best way they know how — by betting with beer.
The first beer-related bet came prior to the Panthers playing the Seattle Seahawks, and not from a brewer but from Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts. Roberts challenged Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to a friendly wager: if the Panthers lost, she’d send a trifecta of Queen City goodness in the form of barbecue from Mac’s Speed Shop, salted caramel brownies from Amélie’s French Bakery & Café and beer from The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.
Fortunately, Roberts didn’t have to deliver on her end (and sorry, but she’s not sorry). Instead, Murray will be sending her a taste of Seattle: wine from South Seattle College’s Northwest Wine Academy, Chinese barbeque from Kau Kau and beer from Pike Brewing.
With the Panthers set to take on the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship, things got even more heated. The first shots fired came from Rob Fullmer, executive director of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, who in a video challenged the North Carolina Brewers Guild to a bet. The guild behind the losing team would not only have to send five different beers as well as food to go along with them, but they would also have to welcome the other guild into their state to brew a collaboration beer (to be named by the winning team).
Suffice it to say the Panthers are going to the Super Bowl, and some of North Carolina’s brewers will be travelling to Arizona to brew a collaboration beer (the details for which are forthcoming). The guild has also entered into a new wager with the Colorado Brewers Guild in which the losing state must host a tap takeover featuring five of the winning state’s best beers. And who decides which beers those are? You do, by nominating your favorite breweries from both states here.
Individual breweries throughout Colorado and North Carolina are raising the stakes. Charlotte’s Wooden Robot Brewery has entered into a wager with Little Machine Beer, another robot-themed brewery that is located just a few blocks away from the Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. If the Panthers win, Little Machine’s head brewer must dress up as Superman and perform “an undisclosed physical challenge” in tribute to Cam Newton. And if they lose, Wooden Robot’s Dan Wade will pay his own tribute to Peyton Manning by doing the same dressed as a sheriff, a nod to the longtime quarterback’s nickname.
Wardrobe requirements were part of Strange Craft Beer Co.’s challenge to NoDa Brewing as well. The Denver brewery has waged that if the Broncos win, NoDa’s co-founder Todd Ford must wear a Peyton Manning jersey at work and send a case each of the brewery’s Hop Drop ‘n Roll and Coco Loco Porter. If the Panthers win, Tim Myers from Strange Craft Beer Co. has agreed to send cases of their Cherry Kriek and Dr. Strangelove Barleywine. He’ll have to wear a Cam Newton jersey, naturally, and he’s going to have to dab on them folks. Both breweries will donate to charity in the other brewery’s name: NoDa Brewing to the Keep Pounding Fund, and Strange Craft Brewing Co. to the National Sports Center for the Disabled.
Last year Triple C Brewing’s head brewer Scott Kimball was in Denver at the Great American Beer Festival, where he accepted a bronze medal in the American-style Strong Pale Ale category for the brewer’s 3C IPA. Taking the silver medal in that category was Via Chicago, a pale ale by Coda Brewing Co. in Aurora. Given their shared proficiency in pale ales, the two have wagered a case of beer on their respective teams. And not only that, but one member of the losing brewery will have to get a tattoo of the other team’s logo.
Triple C’s neighbors down the road at Sycamore Brewing have a similar wager. Like Triple C, Sycamore also won a bronze medal at last year’s Great American Beer Festival for its Southern Girl Lager in the American Style Lager or Light Lager category. Taking silver was Lone Tree Brewing out of Lone Tree, Colorado, and just ahead of them was that most famous of Colorado lager brewers, Coors Brewing Co. (for its Coors Banquet in particular). Sycamore and Lone Tree have since realized they have a lot in common, and so the two will be brewing a pair of India pale lagers soon (one featuring an ingredient from Colorado, the other with an ingredient from North Carolina). Until those are ready, the two breweries have come to an agreement: whichever team loses must dress in the other team’s colors and take a photo of themselves “drowning the sorrows of the loss with Coors Banquet beer.” The lower will also donate to a charity that supports the other team’s mascot (so horses for Colorado, and wildcats for North Carolina).
Even Durham’s Fullsteam Brewery has made what it’s calling “a sports ball wager in the name of beer” with Denver’s Spangalang Brewery. If you’re familiar with Fullsteam’s beers, it shouldn’t surprise you that their wager involves local ingredients. The winner of this wager will design a recipe for a beer that uses indigenous ingredients from their state, but the beer will be brewed and served in the loser’s brewery. Fullsteam’s crowdsourcing potential names, beer styles and ingredients on their Facebook event page.
Fullsteam’s even pre-gaming on Friday, Feb. 5 by releasing a beer called “Bless Their Heart.” It’s a twist on the Winter Rambler gruit they brewed with Charlotte’s Free Range Brewing, and it contains foraged juniper, Fraser fir and chokeberry syrup. It’s that last ingredient they feel best embodies Peyton Manning’s history of choking in the Super Bowl.
Whether Manning and the Broncos will do just that remains to be seen, but one thing is certain — North Carolina’s brewers have a lot at stake this year. And it’s not just the brewers: the Charlotte Observer has also entered into a wager with the Denver Post, with beer and barbecue on the line. Graphic designers from both Colorado and the Carolinas are facing off in a Design Brawl, with a six-pack’s worth of designs based on the Panthers and Broncos. And while you can’t influence the outcome of the game, you can vote on your favorite designs at DesignBrawl.com.