Every year around this time, Jacksonville gears up for one of the most storied rivalries in all of college football history as the Florida Gators take on the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field. Affectionately known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, the event is the source for much revelry over the course of the week leading up to the big game and what better way to celebrate football and partying than a beer release?
Now that even small college towns like Gainesville and Athens have experienced craft beer booms, it was only a matter of time before the century-old rivalry was commemorated by a craft beer collaboration. In 2013, Gainesville’s Swamp Head Brewery and Athens’ Terrapin Beer Co. teamed up to create an English Bitter they dubbed Bitter Rivalry. To give the beer some personality, each brewer chose to represent his state with the addition of Florida oranges and Georgia peaches. Three years later, they’ve taken the initial concept and brought in another player to make things even more interesting.
Jacksonville’s proximity, relative neutrality and our stadium’s capacity have made earned it the privilege of being the sight of this much-celebrated event for decades with the city itself becoming a sort third team in the game. With their new facility right smack dab in the thick of things, Intuition Ale Works thought it apt to join the fray by hosting this year’s collaboration and inviting the brewers to Jacksonville to brew the new beer.
Keeping the Florida-Georgia theme going with the oranges and peaches but wanting to do something new in light of the added player, the team decided on a new style altogether for the beer. The fruit component of the original brew was subdued so in order to step up the flavor, they chose to go with a Berliner-style Weisse beer.
The Berliner Weisse has surged in popularity over the past few years due to its low-ABV sessionability, slight lactic tartness and its affinity for fruit addition. Nicknamed “the champagne of the North” by Napoleon himself, the once obscure style is a wheat beer characterized by its light sourness and inherent fruity character that was made popular in its hometown of Berlin. As sour beers continue to generate attention, it serves as an accessible entree for those looking to explore the category and a sessionable option that won’t wreck your palate.
Originally labeled as Neutral Ground as a nod to the role the City of Jacksonville plays in hosting the game, the brewers ultimately decided on Backyard Brawl for the name of the new beer. The 22 ounce bottle label features an illustration of Swamp Head and Terrapin’s mascots (an egret and a turtle respectively) locked in a Street Fighter-like head-to-head inside Intuition’s taproom to symbolize the rivalry.
Intuition will host several release events around town leading up to the big game and Swamp Head will host a release party in Gainesville as well. The beer will be available on draft at select locations throughout Jacksonville and in bottles at the Intuition taproom but inventory is extremely limited.
Taste the rivalry at a location near you. Here’s where you can find Backyard Brawl in the coming weeks:
- Saturday October 22 – Jacksonville Release @ Intuition Ale Works
- Tuesday October 25 – Gainesville Release @ Swamp Head
- Thursday October 27 – Mellow Mushroom Avondale Release
- Friday October 28 – Fionn McCool’s Release (Jacksonville Landing)
For more on the Georgia-Florida game, check out this year’s website.