When it comes to college football legacy and fervent fans who bleed school spirit, the Midwest is winning; serious craft beer talent makes these four towns champions.
Root for: the University of Wisconsin Badgers Everyone’s wearing: cardinal and white; overalls Pre-game: Join fellow Badgers for a brew with a view on Lake Mendota at the 24-tap Memorial Union; grab an iconic Terrace Chair while a buddy lines up for New Glarus Spotted Cow. After a win: Pack into Essen Haus—home to live oompah and 200 beers— for schnitzel and a boot of Spaten Oktoberfest, then go next door to sister spot Come Back In for 20 craft taps and a few hundred bottles. Refuel: Head up State Street to Capitol Square supper club The Old Fashioned, where a brandy Old Fashioned and rib-stickin’ homestyle specials will warm you up, and the long beer list will keep you busy. Before you go: Stop at Ale Asylum, Madison’s first craft brewery poised northwest of campus; sip Demento session ale on tap and grab bottles of Hopalicious pale ale to go.
Root for: the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers Everyone’s wearing: scarlet and cream; corn hats Pre-game: Start at Zipline Brewing and taste Lincoln’s coolest craft while you still have your wits about you; sample the small batches, and don’t miss year-rounders like the oatmeal stout and Copper Alt. After a win: Grab cheap eats and stellar beer at off-campus pizza parlor Yia Yia’s; a pint (including pours from nearby Borgata and Blue Blood breweries) and a slice won’t even cost you $10. Refuel: Football fans head to Lazlo’s, in the historic Haymarket district, to satisfy beer and food cravings. As Nebraska’s first brewpub and home of Empyrean Brewing, they serve in-house brewed ales to go with from-scratch fare like the lavosh. Before you go: Sip off a limited-edition firkin at craft-beer-and-cocktail bar The Cask, which also mixes 10 different Moscow Mules.
Root for: The Ohio State University Buckeyes Everyone’s wearing: scarlet and gray; jerseys and nut necklaces Catch the game: No ticket? Head to Pigskin Brewing where OSU games play on big-screen TVs and a selection of Pigskin beers, including a malty brown ale, is always available. Refuel: The Crafty Pint gastropub serves up 40 Midwestern drafts and hearty gourmet pub grub to match; while you weigh the IPAs, ask for a bowl of beer-cheese soup. After a win: Reward yourself with a growler of beer from Ohio Taproom, which sells only Ohio-made products, including mead, cider and go-withs like chips and salsa. Before you go: Think you could brew a better beer? North High Brewing not only crafts its own beer (it rotates 10 house brews and 20 guest beers on tap), but it also lets you brew batches 15 gallons at a time.
ANN ARBOR, MICH.
Root for: the University of Michigan Wolverines Everyone’s wearing: maize and blue; “Beat Ohio” T-shirts Pre-game: Arbor Brewing, Grizzly Peak, Jolly Pumpkin Café and Blue Tractor are within steps of The Big House. Try sours via the reserve series at Arbor and everything at Jolly; watch for the seasonal, sessionable Bam Noire dark saison. Refuel: Before it was the workplace of Jason Segel’s character in“The Five Year Engagement,” bustling Zingerman’s Deli was an AA icon: Get the famous Reuben, with locally sourced beef and housemade Russian dressing between rye bread. After a win: Stumbling distance from the stadium, Ashley’s is as much a college bar as it is a craft beer mecca. Order whatever new project from Short’s you can find. Before a win: Keep the spirit alive at the open-late tasting room of all-lager Wolverine State Brewing.