Why do beer and sports go so well together? It’s a mystery well worth researching, but I’ve only gotten as far as one Huffington Post article.
Apparently, beer was the drink of immigrants in the 19th century since access to clean water was limited for those who couldn’t afford to live near fresh water. In other words, anyone who lived in the city, and especially those who lived in the slums.
Through this connection to the poor and the working class, beer earned its reputation as the drink of the working classes and those who identified with them, a connection that remains strong even today.
It’s no surprise then that the sports that aim to represent that same cross-section of American culture are today still well-represented by beer commercials and a beer cultural. In fact, it seems clear that you could even subdivide the beer culture here and claim that the big brand beers that still tend to be drunk by the working class are the only beer culture represented at, say, NFL games. There’s very little to be seen of microbrews or craft brews during NFL broadcasts, and there are few beers on offer at stadiums that aren’t in the Budweiser or Miller families.
This got me thinking, what drink represents each sport best in America? For football, it’s clearly mainstream beer brands, as mentioned above. What else? If I think of basketball, I think of Gatorade, which is some excellent branding on that company’s part.
For tennis, I think tea probably is the closest thing to a drink connection, although I believe the English drink a fruity alcoholic drink called Pimm’s.
That leaves a lot of beverages available for other sports. Hockey, I think, deserves to also have a place in the beer community, but for that sport, I think foreign beers are more commonly associated, such as Lebatt.
So where do those microbrews fit in in the sporting context? I think the answer has to be soccer. Soccer is the sport of hipsters, internationals, and immigrants. It’s a cool sport with a young following in this country, and that group very neatly overlaps with the craft brew community.
For soccer fans, there’s a sense of being part of the sporting community but still apart here. You’re watching a sport that isn’t a respected sport in this country, and that gives you a specific kind of identity, the kind of identity that seeks out a beer that isn’t like other beers, for instance.
You also see more youthful innovation in that beer market (consider the Growler Chiller, for instance), just like you see international concepts like the sports pub being imported for soccer.
It just makes sense for the two to go together.
There’s still plenty of other sports and drinks out there to connect, but I think I might start doubling back on a few of them. Baseball seems a mainstream beer sport as well, as does NASCAR. Perhaps you can’t put one sport to one drink so neatly.
Still, I think the connection between drinks, social classes, and sports is there if we look for it.Read More »