What goes well with sports? Beer.
Though many would argue that the Cubs should be Old Style because of the history that both brands have in Chicago, I argue that the Cubs would be Pabst Blue Ribbon. Yes, I’m aware that Pabst is based out of Milwaukee, but PBR has a proud history in Chicago as well. Additionally, the similarities are too close to ignore.
Most obviously, their colors are the same. There’s something very aesthetically pleasing about someone in a Cubs jersey drinking a tall boy PBR.
But more fundamentally, the Cubs are a team that won something over a century ago and keeps holding onto that win as validation. In much the same way, Pabst won a blue ribbon in 1898, and hasn’t taken it off the cans since. Like Pabst, the Cubs are something that many grandfathers have stuck to religiously their whole lives, but also something that young people are now starting to get into. Just as Pabst has regained its popularity of old, the Cubs are back in vogue.
As a team that is synonymous with the best of Chicago, the Blackhawks are Goose Island 312. 312 is named for the downtown area code, so it is named after the city itself. In much the same way, you can’t think of the Blackhawks without thinking of the city as a whole.
When the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last season, a man celebrating in Wrigleyville went viral for saying, “the Blackhawks are so good, they’re making black people watch hockey.” Chicago is considered one of, if not the most, segregated cities in America, but all nearly all Chicagoans can agree on the Hawks.
Though all beer has the power to unite people, 312 is available city-wide. Both Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular carry the 312 brand. It’s respected nationally as a Chicago staple, and even non-Chicagoans respect it as a quality product.
Parallels continue to this particular Blackhawks squad. As the reigning Stanley Cup champions, this team is a veteran squad that knows how to get the job done. They stick to what they know how to do, and it works pretty well for them.
312 doesn’t change their formula much and supplies the city with a steady stream of what it knows Chicagoans like. It’s established and operates as if it has nothing to prove, something that younger breweries can’t afford to do.
White Sox: Old Style
If the Cubs are PBR, that makes the Sox Old Style. Though not as history-focused as the Cubs, it has been a Chicago staple for more than 100 years. Their past is not as prestigious (e.g. fixing the World Series), but they have endured, and Chicago wouldn’t be Chicago without it. Old Style drinkers, just as White Sox fans, are fiercely loyal to their brand. There’s something gritty about Old Style, and a similar grit pervades U.S. Cellular Field and the surrounding area. South Siders are tough.
In light of the Bulls’ recent performance, it was difficult to find a beer that captured a team that used to be the greatest, could have been good, but just isn’t. So I think the Bulls over that past 25 years, and the franchise as a whole is to be the Lagunitas of Chicago sports.
Before you say, “Wait, Lagunitas is good, and the Bulls are bad,” hear me out.
Unless you’re a beer aficionado, you most likely cannot name more than two Lagunitas brews. The most famous and widely enjoyed are the IPA and the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’. If you aren’t a basketball buff, you probably can’t name more than a handful of Bulls players. Michael Jordan is the IPA, which is described as “ruthlessly delicious” on the Lagunitas website, and Derrick Rose is the Little Sumpin’. If you want to go one further, Scottie Pippen is the Pils because people recognize the bottle but wouldn’t remember it on their own.
Essentially, ever since MJ, Bulls fandom has been more about the stars than the team. Liking Lagunitas is more about one or two beer options than liking everything the brand has to offer.
Comparatively new to the Chicago scene, the Chicago Fire — the city’s Major League Soccer team for those who haven’t yet heard of them — would be Revolution Brewing. In a city already inundated with beer and sports, both the Fire and Revolution were up against big odds for success.
Both have found success in early years based on a good, solid performance and promising results. Both, however, are a bit of a hike for fans to see in person. The Fire is older than Revolution, and its initial success has topped off. If it takes the same trajectory, Revolution may face similar issues, but like the Fire, who is the only professional soccer team in the area, they are one of a kind.
Da Bears are MillerCoors. The MillerCoors offices sit on the Chicago River and the company cranks out some of the commercially successful beers in the country. The NFL is by far the most commercial sport in America, and the Bears are no exception.
Because the Bears can’t be the whole NFL, they also can’t be all of MillerCoors. The Bears are specifically Miller Lite.
Like Miller Liter, those who are not fans don’t think they’re anything special, but true fans know differently. Miller Lite is the first light beer. In fact, it’s “lite” not “light” for that very reason. This gives the brand a unique taste and drinkability.
Since the 1985 Super Bowl season, the Bears have personality. Though today it’s not as apparent as it was then, Cutler’s attitude and the other players’ talent give the team a flavor that is unique to Chicago.