The crisp, refreshing story of Sweetwater’s Super Bowl beer bet with Samuel Adams

Credit: @sweetwaterbrew via Twitter

ATLANTA — Super Bowl LI will be remembered as either the greatest comeback or the greatest collapse in NFL history, depending on where your allegiance may lie.

While fans of both New England and Atlanta were entirely invested in that game, there was a bit more at stake for two notable breweries. Samuel Adams, a well-known brewery located in Boston, and Sweetwater, a popular brewery from Atlanta, engaged in a little side wager of their own.

“The bet, which came from us, was that the losing team has to rename one of their beers after the winning team,” explained Sweetwater Communications Director Tucker Sarkisian. “Whatever name we choose and whatever label art we choose, and they said, it’s on!”

Neither brewery hatched this wager on their own, however. It came about when a Gainesville (Ga.) gas station owner named Hadji decided not to sell any Samuel Adams in his store until after the Super Bowl.

https://twitter.com/SBNation/status/824615320589598720

https://twitter.com/HadjPadjj/status/825077801942470659

Hadji went public saying he recommended Sweetwater, and the Atlanta brewery saw an opportunity to join in on the fun by sending in plenty of fresh beer for his store.

It didn’t take long for local and national media outlets to pick up on the story, and the rivalry was underway.

https://twitter.com/SamuelAdamsBeer/status/825081232518168577

Once the terms were agreed upon and the Super Bowl underway, it looked as though “Dirty Bird Lager” would be the newest beer in Boston. As we now know, that wasn’t the case.

“(The game) was awesome for the first three-and-a-half quarters, or whatever, but then it was excruciating at the end,” Sarkisian said. “You can go back and look at the Twitter story between the two of us and we were just going back and forth at each other throughout the whole game. I hope I’m not biased when I say that we may have lost the final football game, but we won the Twitter battle for sure.”

https://twitter.com/SamuelAdamsBeer/status/828412584151904257

After the final outcome was decided, and the Patriots claimed victory for Samuel Adams, the two sides began discussions on how to honor the bet. The following day, Sweetwater called the Boston brewery to figure out the details, and talks were friendlier than expected.

“They were actually very gracious,” Sarkisian told Saturday Down South. “They said, ‘You guys have been through enough and you don’t have to do all of this to the full extent if you don’t want to.’ And we said, ‘No, no, we’re good southern folks, we pay our bets, we’re on it.’ So, that’s when we started executing everything that we promised.”

True to their word, the Sweetwater team worked to incorporate the design chosen by the victors and made good on part of the bet a few days after Super Bowl LI.

It took a little while longer to have the Patriot-themed beers available for purchase, but 10 days after the Falcons’ heartbreaking loss, Sweetwater’s final debt was paid.

Fans still looking to drown their sorrows flocked to enjoy one of the limited-edition beers, and it didn’t take long before Sweetwater was completely out.

While it was a lighthearted bet that was fun for fans to follow, the breweries gained a fair amount of exposure in the process. Samuel Adams is already a well-known brewery, but for Sweetwater, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary Friday, it was a welcome addition.

The brewery sells beer in 19 states and the country of Ireland, and its “Sweetwater 420” is a very popular beer in many of the SEC’s college towns. Outside of Athens, where Sweetwater is a staple in the bar community, some other SEC schools were big fans of the brand.

“The Carolinas are huge for us, as well as Florida,” explained Steve Farace, Sweetwater’s vice president of branding and culture. “I would say South Carolina and UF (drink the most Sweetwater).”

Due to the bet, however, Sweetwater’s name was mentioned far beyond its local footprint. Sarkisian said she saw places in Oregon and California talking about her brewery, and there was, of course, another notable market that took an interest in Sweetwater.

“We are not in Boston, and that is somewhere that I think we have our eye on in the future,” she explained. “It’s a great market, and I think it certainly exposed us to those craft beer fans.”

Football can incite passion and rivalry in two communities that may have very little in common. This bet between breweries, however, reminded us that even the bitterest of feuds can be ironed out over a nice cold beer.

This button delivers the best SEC football stories to you on Facebook

COMMENTS

You must be logged in to post a comment. Please sign in or register