Beer and Sports: A Love Story

Posted by Erin Anderson on

It’s almost Super Bowl time, and the question on everybody’s mind is, "What kind of beer should I serve at my Bowl party?" Beer and sports are the original bromance, and anyone who’s watched the game with a cold brew in hand knows there’s a good reason for the combination’s popularity. Whether it’s Bud and football or Arrogant Bastard and curling (no? just us?), malty beverages and athletic pursuits have had a symbiotic relationship for a lot longer than you’d think.

In 1882, saloon owner Chris von der Ahe noticed that his sales skyrocketed after baseball games. He bought the local team, the St. Louis Brown Stockings, and lowered the ticket price so that fans could spend more on his beer. Turns out he had found the magic formula: beer + sports = $$$ for von der Ahe. Unfortunately, he got too big for his britches, made some bad business decisions and ended up a penniless barkeep once again. But a brewer’s son named Jacob Ruppert learned from his example and made a better investment, buying the Yankees in 1915. Promoting the natural union of sports and beer (well, that and acquiring Babe Ruth for his team) made Ruppert a tidy fortune, and gave all of us our national pastime: getting hammered and watching the game with our buddies.

Big breweries pay millions to be the only beer supplier for a major stadium, since they know that fans will shell out almost any amount to get their hands on a cold one during the game - a 16 oz draft at the San Diego Chargers stadium will set you back a full $9. In 2011, the Seattle Seahawks stadium charged $1.25 more for a large beer than for a small, even though both were actually the same size. Tired of the price gouging, enterprising sports fans have built an industry around products to smuggle beer into stadiums, from the aptly named Beerbelly to the ingenious Stadium Sippin’ Seat. A sound investment, if you ask us.


But it’s not just in the stadium that beer companies rely on sports fans. Last season’s NHL lockout really did a number on sales of Molson’s Canadian. Without a game to watch, seems like there’s no real reason to sit around the TV and drink beer, eh? This hurt Molson’s bottom line enough that the company plans to sue the league for damages. Meanwhile, 84% of Anheuser-Busch’s TV budget is spent on ads that air during sporting events; Budweiser drops about $26 million every year on Super Bowl ads alone. With Americans drinking 50 million cases of beer on Super Bowl Sunday (that’s enough to fill 493 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or $10.8 billion worth of beer, for those of you following along at home), it seems to be paying off. 

But whether we have Chris von der Ahe or Anheuser-Busch to thank for it, the fact remains that sports and beer are pretty much inseparable. So our advice for the Super Bowl is, no matter who you’re betting on ahem, cheering for, make sure there’s plenty of brews to go around. And, word to the wise: 6% of workers call in “sick” the Monday after the game. Take your Blowfish and don’t be one of them.



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