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Extra beer business news, thoughts and insights from the publishers of Beer Marketer’s Insights, Insights Express, Craft Brew News, Beverage Business Insights and Alcohol Issues Insights.

Craft and the Age Old Concept of Beer & Sports

It’s not that we haven’t seen it happen before; it’s that more craft beer/professional sports combinations are starting to make the news more frequently.  This is an age old connection: beer and sports. That’s always been a staple, tho typically most utilized by the Bud, Miller, and Coors families of brands.  


Last week, news broke that Seattle’s Hilliards Beer Co cranked out 12K cases of a Seattle Seahawks themed beer, dubbed “The 12th Can,” a reference to the team’s fans - “The 12th Man” - reported Puget Sound Business Journal.  It was created in September, just in time for the start of the season, after a local radio station “publicly asked for a local beer dedicated to the country’s loudest fans,” co announced in press release earlier today.  Since then, “the brewery had to drastically increase production to keep up with demand” in midst of the Seahawks success, as the team prepares for the Super Bowl this Sunday.  The 12th Can is a sessionable pale ale at 4.5% ABV that “is sold in 12-packs of 16-ounce tallboy cans for about $20 per pack,” added paper.  Less than a week later, Hilliards already sold another 500 cases, and brewers are working 12 hr shifts “just to make sure fans would have enough to drink come Super Bowl Sunday,” sez co.  That’s a fast $500,000 in sales at retail, and with a little under a week til the Super Bowl, who knows how much more Hilliard can tack on! See the article here 


Recall, there was also beer buzz in Denver after Peyton Manning’s post game comment that “what’s on my mind is how soon I could get a Bud Light in my mouth.”  Left Hand Brewing sent a light-hearted letter to the Quarterback, calling for a beer “audible,” along with 3 cases of Left Hand brew.  West Flanders Brewing out of Boulder, CO made a small batch brew dubbed Omaha Omaha Brett, in honor of Peyton.  Actually the first name West Flanders tried, “Brett On The Broncos,” was flagged by the NFL for "engaging in unauthorized promotional use of the NFL Marks (including inter alia, the AFC word mark and the Denver Broncos word mark and color combination) in connection with the promotion of your business."  This week West Flanders made the news again, but this time for its wager on the big game with Seattle’s Elysian Brewing.  Terms of the bet are as follows: “the head brewer for the brewpub of the winning city’s team will be flown to the losing team’s city, at the loser’s expense.  The winning brewer will take over the losing brewery’s equipment and staff and brew a beer of their choice on that brewery’s equipment,” West Flanders announced.  And “to raise the stakes even higher, on tapping day the host brewery must fly…the winning team’s flag for two weeks or until the beer is gone, whichever comes first.” It was not too long ago that Harpoon, Sam Adams, and Schlafly bet some beer based on the outcome of this past World Series.  That was all over the news for some time leading into the Series, and there’ve been plenty other friendly bets between breweries during large sporting events as well.


Then too, there’s been a handful of articles that have created a Beer Super Bowl of sorts, comparing Denver’s beer scene to Seattle’s beer scene (and/or Colo’s beer scene to Wash’s beer scene).  One article by the Herald-Review, looks at the # of breweries within each city, as well as the different “cutting edge” and “adventuresome” styles being brewed: Denver has a whopping 44 breweries, while Seattle has 32, according to Beer Advocate.  Both are impressive numbers when you compare to NYC’s 15 breweries, LA’s 13; Seattle’s 32 breweries are greater than Chicago and St Louis combined, noted paper.   Since both cities “support thriving beer cultures that are on the cutting edge of the modern beer scene,” paper proposes “we simply allow the winner to be decided by the Super Bowl victors.”   


And if all the above wasn’t enough craft/sport combos, an extensive piece by Sports Business Journal was recently written that shed light on continued shift of US sports stadiums towards more craft beer.


UPDATE                   UPDATE                   UPDATE                       UPDATE

Since this post, there have been some further developments to Seattle’s 12th man beer references.  Two other Washington state breweries have created beers referencing Seattle Seahawks 12th man.  One, Dick's Brewing, has named its beer “12 Man Pale Ale,” and sold “6,000 cans and 300 kegs” in January as of Jan 28, reported Komo News. This brew has reportedly been 2 years in the making, “and much of the process has involved legal red tape,” noted paper.  Recall, Texas A&M has trademark on the phrase, “12th Man.”  Yet with the simple omission of “th” in 12th, Dick’s Brewing got the go ahead and is reaping the benefits amidst the Seahawk’s success.  Both Hilliard's and Dick's apparently did their homework, tactfully referencing the 12th man without raising any yellow flags with Texas A&M. However Foggy Noggin Brewing, a WA nano brewery, did not have such luck.  It brewed a one off, “12th Man Skittles IPA,” that was meant to “only serve around 55 people,” on Super Bowl Sunday, and quickly received a Cease and Desist order from the University, reported Bothell Reporter.  The Seattle Seahawks went through a similar suit for using the “12th man” in February 2006, tho “the university and the Seahawks ended up settling out of court, as the Seahawks agreed to pay a licensing fee and acknowledge Texas A&M’s ownership rights of the trademarked phrase,” added Bothell Reporter.  “I was blown away that this university even heard about us using that name for our beer,” Manager of Foggy Noggin, Jim Jamison told paper.  Foggy Noggin has since asked folks not to use the original name, and has apologized for “any perceived infringement on any trademarks.” 




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