Gameday Brew

The perfect Arizona Bowl beer

Yes, Tucson’s bowl game has its own commemorative beer, courtesy of Barrio Brewing Company.
Yes, Tucson’s bowl game has its own commemorative beer, courtesy of Barrio Brewing Company.
I take my sense of place sipping and snacking seriously.

For example, when I was in Austin earlier this month, there wasn't a beer, spirit or wine that passed through my lips that wasn't brewed, distilled or made in the Lone Star State. I also waited in line for five hours at a Texas barbecue joint just to sample their brisket—but that's another story entirely. 

I want what I eat and what I drink to be representative of where I am.

This attitude will be on display Dec. 31 at Arizona Stadium when I take my first tug of the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl Brew.

Yes, Tucson's bowl game has its own commemorative beer. It comes from the oldest brewery in Arizona, Tucson's own Barrio Brewing Company, and the selection makes perfect sense now that I know what's behind a bowl-worthy brew.

It takes some thought to synthesize the elements that define a great daytime bowl beer experience. You generally want to limit the dark and heavy brews, like porters and stouts, that will likely fill you up before the end of the first quarter. You also want to handle with care those high-hopped IPAs that can spike on the Alcohol by Volume scale. I'd save that double IPA for your nightcap.

On the other side of the spectrum, a brew that's too light and crisp might be mistaken for hydration and could inadvertently result in overindulgence on a sunny day in Tucson.

For Barrio, the sweet spot is their Vienna Lager, a beer that its makers say is perfect for proudly wearing the label of the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. 

"This is a beautiful, mild, malt-forward and slightly sweet drinker, making it a great call for gameday," said Dennis Arnold, co-owner of Barrio Brewing Company, 800 E. 16th St. "It drinks wonderfully on the palate." 

The Vienna style of beer originated in 19th century Austria and later migrated to Munich, where it was quickly adopted as an Oktoberfest seasonal favorite. This Vienna and Munich heritage is literally at the center of this year's Bowl Brew with malts that will transport your palate to the Old World.

"Vienna and Munich malts add up to about two-thirds of the bill for our Vienna Lager, and then we bring in a little German Crystal malt, and a mild hop called Czech Saaz, to balance it all out," Arnold said. 

The Bowl Brew boasts an approachable 6 percent ABV, with an International Bitterness Unit measurement of 24.4, putting it comfortably into the category of a four-quarter beer.

 The Vienna Lager made its debut at last year's game, and bowl executives were quick to embrace it as the bowl's official beer this year. 

"Bringing this beer back to the gameday experience is truly a 'back by popular demand' promise to our fans," said Kym Adair, executive director of the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. "It's great to be working with Dennis Arnold and his award-winning team yet again, and an honor to partner with Arizona's oldest brewery."

As the bowl's designated game host this year, I'll be popping up in different sections of the stadium throughout the game with public announcements about things making bowl news. Expect to see me with a cup of Vienna Lager in hand, or what I like to call the Official Beer of the Game Host.

Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, at Russell is also the publisher of as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the "Buckmaster Show" on KVOI 1030 AM. Disclosure: Barrio Brewing Company and the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl are clients of Russell Public Communications.

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