What beers to pair with your favourite sports

Illustrated grid of pairings. Top row, left to right: India pale ale with football; ice beer with hockey stick and puck; witbier with basketball; light lager with baseball and bat. Bottom row, left to right: pale ale with cricket bat and ball; radler with bicycle helmet; pilsner with soccer ball; cream ale with lacrosse stick and ball.

Grab your team jersey and foam finger. We’re going deep on the best brews to pair with your favourite sport, from hockey to cricket and beyond

Beer plus sports equals a slam dunk. That’s true whether you’re kicking back on the couch watching the game or having a cold one with your team after the final buzzer. (Hey, they don’t call it “beer league” for nothing.)

Whatever your favourite sport, there’s a beer that’ll complement it perfectly. So check out our scouting report and get in the game.

Football + India pale ale (IPA)

Football is a game where it pays to be big — like, 6-5 and 300 pounds big. So don’t fumble your beer choice, even if you’re just an armchair quarterback: Make it a big, juicy IPA. Brewers pile on the hops in these beers, so they taste huge and offer lots of refreshing bitterness. They also play well with big-flavoured game-day foods, like chicken wings and spicy chili.

An illustrated glass of India pale ale stands next to an illustrated football.

Hockey + ice beer

These two Great White North classics have ice in common (duh). But that’s not all. Hockey and beer are also two things that Canadians do oh-so smoothly. Canadian brewers really popularized this crisp style back in the early ’90s. As for hockey, well…our world dominance has been pretty obvious since 1972 or so, eh?

An illustrated glass of ice beer stands next to an illustrated hockey stick and puck.<br />

Baseball + light lager

Baseball is a game of rituals: catching foul balls. Booing the umpire. Hot dogs, peanuts and a frosty beer to wash ’em all down. A refreshing, ice-cold light lager helps you feel cool in the summer heat and quenches your thirst from those salty snacks. Plus, it’s not too filling, so you’ll be ready to get up for the seventh-inning stretch.

Alt Text: An illustrated glass of light lager stands next to an illustrated baseball and bat

Lacrosse + cream ale

Brewed like an ale and refreshing like a lager, cream ale is a laid-back beer with backbone. So it’s ideal for a tough sport. Cream ale is an old tradition in the Great Lakes region (including Ontario, Quebec and New York State), which overlaps with the territory of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (a.k.a. the Six Nations) — the peoples who first played lacrosse and who still compete internationally as the Iroquois Nationals.

Alt Text: An illustrated glass of cream ale stands next to an illustrated lacrosse stick and ball.

Basketball + witbier

Sure, b-ball and this brew both seem fun, bouncy and simple at first. But fans know there’s a lot of complexity going on in the little details. What else do they have in common? Basketball and witbier (a.k.a. Belgian-style white beer) have quickly become popular around the world. People also like to garnish this citrusy wheat beer with an orange wedge, which might remind you of that big ole sphere being dribbled down the court.

An illustrated glass of witbier with an orange wedge garnish stands next to an illustrated basketball.

Cycling + radler

Legend has it that a tavern keeper invented the radler on a warm day in 1922, when a gaggle of thirsty cyclists wheeled up to his beer garden in the Munich suburbs. (“Radler” means “cyclist” in German.) And no wonder: It’s ideal for anyone looking to shift gears and kick back after a hard ride.

An illustrated glass of radler stands next to an illustrated bicycle helmet.

Cricket + pale ale

The original ball-and-bat game — with fans from Pakistan to New Zealand to Jamaica — was invented in England. So were pale ales (or bitters), which English pub-goers have loved for more than a century. They’re gentle, delicious served at a mild temperature and best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. What better choice for taking in a test match that could unfold over several days?

An illustrated glass of pale ale stands next to an illustrated cricket bat and ball.

Soccer + pilsner

No sport commands a bigger fandom (or breaks more hearts) worldwide than soccer. As for a beer that’s found everywhere, that would be pilsner. Fans of these pale lagers love their beautiful simplicity. They also pack a bitter endnote — a familiar feeling for soccer fans after they see their side’s lead vanish late in a close match.

An illustrated glass of pilsner stands next to an illustrated soccer ball.

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