September is a special month in the year. The heat of summer has lessened slightly, and spending an entire afternoon in the sun does not seem blatantly suicidal.
This coincides quite beautifully with the launch of the college football season, a magical time when folks enjoy barbecued food and a few good beers prior to watching the spectacular exertions of gifted college athletes, all while comfortably ensconced in a stadium seat. September is for school chants, good-natured ribbing, heartbreaking losses and skin-of-the-teeth victories.
At this special time of the year, I present my list of the 10 Best Craft Beer/College Football Towns. The list takes into consideration the presence of only two things: a college football team and good locally produced beer.
10. Knoxville, Tenn.
The SEC is certainly among the best in football, but when it comes to quality beer, SEC country is Division II all the way. This is why Knoxille is our only SEC entry. Volunteer for a Tuckaleechee Porter at Calhoun's atop Bearden Hill for the best brew Knoxville has to offer. calhouns.com.
South Florida Bulls fans can avail themselves of the opportunity to sample Florida's best beers at Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City. One Night Stand Pale Ale is a highlight. tampabaybrewingcompany.com.
8. Winston-Salem, N.C.
Wake Forest fans can wet their whistles at one of the south's finest brewpubs, Foothill's Brewing. Both have seen a meteoric rise of late. The Demon Deacons won the ACC Championship in '06 and a bowl game in '07, while Foothills has been winning major awards in the brewing industry since their establishment in 2004. foothillsbrewing.com.
7. Austin, Texas
Draught House Pub and Brewery in Austin is the University of Texas highlight. Hook a Bombay IPA or for a rare treat try the Berlin-style House Gose. draughthouse.com.
6. Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is home to six brewpubs, including Columbus Brewing Company and Barley's Brewing Company, makers of Draggin Ass Stout. I assume Draggin Ass is a reference to the Buckeyes' performance in big games. columbusbrewingco.com, barleysbrewing.com.
5. Madison, Wis.
Madison is home to the Badgers, a solid football team cheered on by some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Perhaps what makes Badgers fans so nice is all the great beer in Madison. With breweries such as Great Dane Pub and Brewery and their tasty Black earth Porter, Madison is among the best college football beer towns. greatdanepub.com.
4. Fort Collins, Colo.
The Colorado State Rams share Fort Collins with New Belgium Brewery and Fat Tire Ale as well as Odell Brewing Company and others. This makes for quality tailgating, if not always winning football.
3. Eugene, Ore.
Ducks fans have no fewer than three brewpubs and one microbrewery to choose from when considering what to drink on game day. With this kind of variety, it is easy to imagine that a bit of overindulgence led to the Ducks notoriously awful uniform designs. Highlights in Eugene include the Eugene City Brewery and their Tracktown 200 Meter Ale. myspace.com/eugenecitybrewery.
2. Boulder, Colo.
Nine brewpubs and breweries ensure that the Colorado Buffalos' fans can stampede the biggest of thirsts. Highlights in Boulder include Avery Brewing and Southern Sun Pub and Brewery. averybrewing.com, mountainsunpub.com.
1. Seattle, Wash.
Huskies fans live in a beer mecca. With 16 brewpubs or breweries in the Seattle area, no college campus in the United States can claim to have better access to quality local craft beer than the University of Washington. Elysian Brewing Company and its Dragonstooth Stout are not to be missed. elysianbrewing.com.