When we’re kicking back at a football game, many of us reach for one thing: beer. Whether we enjoy a classic, All-American Sam Adams or prefer to sip on local craft beers, a cold beer goes hand-in-hand with the tailgates, hot dogs, and body paint that make up the NFL season.
With the NFL season already rolling, we had to know: which stadium has the best craft beer selection?
Last year, we published our list of The Best NFL Stadiums for Craft Beer for 2013. This year, we added a new winner to the list: the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., which came in at number seven out of the 10 best stadiums. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis was knocked down to number eight and M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to number nine.
Granted, it isn't so easy to find these elusive craft beers at the 31 NFL stadiums across the country. In case you were unaware of this, big beer sort of has a lockdown on NFL football, as well as on any other major-league sport. (At least we get some amusing Budweiser commercials during the Super Bowl out of it.) So unless you're tailgating with a great craft beer in hand (we're particularly indebted to CraftBeer.com for giving us the most in-depth guide to the craft breweries nearby each stadium), you most likely have to suck it up and hand over the big bucks for a mass-produced beer.
But if you're willing to take a bit of a hike during the game — obviously, we recommend doubling up on beer orders to make up for lost time — and search, certain NFL stadiums will have the local craft beer you're craving. In fact, stadiums now are heeding the craft beer cry and building in beer gardens and craft beer "houses" to provide dozen of local draughts. That makes game day just a bit more exciting for the beer lover.
Of course, it goes without saying that you'll be paying up to get a better beer. This year's research showed that an "average" beer at the stadium costs $7.53, up 25 cents from 2013. And this year, the winner of the most expensive beer at the game goes to the Oakland Raiders at $10.75 apiece. But in making our list, we left price aside and researched how many craft beers were on tap, how accessible they were to the public, and which stadiums have the most variety. After all, circling the stadium for a beer can make for an exhausting beer run.
Wisconsin is the newly crowned capitol of craft brewing, if the most recent beer awards are anything to go by. So it should be no surprise that Lambeau Field, home to the Green Bay Packers, makes our list. The Carolina Panthers have made their love for craft beer known by adding several new breweries to the lineup, particularly the NoDa Brewing Company, Big Boss Brewing, New Belgium Brewing Company (a new addition to the Carolina beer scene) and the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Even more impressive: a beer garden stationed at section 101, with an even bigger beer selection, shares Carolina Beer.
We know which stadiums are now on the bucket list for the craft beer lover-cum-sports fan in all of us.
#9 Baltimore Ravens — M&T Bank Stadium
Look for a wide range of Flying Dog beers. We give the Ravens’ home field props for making local breweries Flying Dog Brewery, based in Maryland, special to the stadium. After all, Flying Dog was a hit with the Orioles, too.
#8 Colts — Lucas Oil Stadium
The beer selection isn’t the best atLucas Oil Stadium; you’ll find more domestic beers (think Bud and Coors) on tap than craft beers. Some that you will find, though, are the Sunlight Cream Ale, Wee Mac Scottish Ale, and Osiris Pale Ale.
Additional reporting by The Daily Meal’s assistant editor Haley Willard.