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The NBA season is underway, and we’re more hyped than Rocky the Denver Nuggets mascot after he hits a 210-foot shot from a crane. Is the NBA not the freakin’ best? We love all the crazy mascots as much as we love the athletes -- who are a lot like baseball players, but without all the beer guts. Not that there’s anything wrong with a beer gut, of course (just ask anyone on our staff).
In fact, since beer is another one of our favorite things, we think the only way to make the NBA any better would be to give each team its own beer mascot, too. So we’ve decided to pair seven of the most hyped NBA teams this season with seven local beers.
The teams featured below are those that people are especially excited to watch this year -- whether because they’ve added exciting new players (like Kyrie Irving on the Boston Celtics), or someone on their roster is poised to have a breakout year (like Giannis Antetokounmpo on the Milwaukee Bucks). You’re won’t see Golden State or Cleveland here – we all already know what those teams can do (i.e. make it to the Finals).
And the beers we’ve selected aren’t official picks or endorsed by anyone affiliated with the NBA – they’re the brews we feel best represent these awesome teams. If you don’t agree with some for any reason, feel free let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Below are the beers you need to drink while watching games in cities like Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, and more:
Their beer: Yards Brewing Co. Brawler
Disclosure: I’m a serious Sixers fan. And considering how hard our team has tanked over the past few years, we deserve every glorious moment of Joel Embiid. And Simmons too, he’s great! But Embiid is a brawler -- he isn’t afraid to mix it up in the paint or on social media (“my location is extremely ass” may be the finest use of Instagram ever). Yards’ English Mild is also a Brawler -- a 4.2% ABV session ale you can enjoy a few glasses of during a two-and-a-half hour game. Especially on those nights when the Sixers can’t quite hang with the contenders. Which is fine -- other than J.J. Redick, everyone on the team is like, 21-years-old! It’s gonna take some time for them to start kicking ass.
Their beer: Uinta Brewing Co. Baba Black Lager
Salt Lake City, UT
In contrast to the fast-paced offensive style of many NBA teams, the Utah Jazz have been said to play a “deliberate” style of basketball (at least, according to one extremely charitable description from the Associated Press). It’s cool to love the Jazz, though -- the team’s still good even without Hayward! Not as good. But good! Luckily for Jazz fans, Uinta’s Black Lager is better than good, but it’s also a beer you want to drink slow and deliberately. Savor those chocolate and wood smoke notes while watching Joe Ingles (slowly) pull up for a three and drain it.
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Their beer: Karbach Brewing Co. Yule Shoot Your Eye Out
Chris Paul has to work out some injury issues before he can get back on the floor -- but once he does, this team is gonna shoot everyone’s eyes out. James Harden has never met a three point shot he didn’t like, and Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, and Eric Gordon are no slouches, either. The NBA season really starts to grab everyone’s attention when baseball has come to a close in November -- which is a perfect time to grab a big ole 8% ABV winter ale like Yule Shoot Your Eye Out. Sit in front of a fireplace with a can of this malty, gingery, chocolatey beast of a beer and watch the Rockets while ignoring your family. It’s the best way to celebrate the holiday season!
Oklahoma City Thunder
credits:"[Stonecloud Brewing Company / Facebook](https://www.facebook.com/StonecloudBrewingCo/photos/a.1216436758399005.1073741832.1157800867595928/1722441211131888/?type=3&theater)" width:450 align:right
Their beer: Stonecloud Brewing Co. Business As Usual
Oklahoma City, OK
The Thunder are new and improved: Carmelo Anthony! Paul George! Umm…Patrick Patterson! For Thunder fans, it looks like this squad is built to win now, and they’ve added pieces to help the reigning MVP / fashion plate Russell Westbrook go further than the first round of the playoffs. Let’s be real, though: this is Westbrook’s team. He’ll probably average a triple double again. And that’s why Stonecloud’s 9% ABV imperial IPA with rye called Business As Usual is the perfect Thunder beer. The team will likely be as good as they were last year (not better) -- even with Anthony (!), George (!), and Patterson (?).
Their beer: MobCraft Beer Vanilla Wafer Porter
Sure, Malcolm Brogdon and Jabari Parker look like they could be a damned good supporting piece of the Bucks puzzle. But if you’ve seen Giannis Antetokounmpo play these first few weeks of the season, you know how special he is. Speed? Power? Finesse? More than 30 points every game? Holy crap! There’s a reason there’s already MVP talk around him. And that’s why the MobCraft porter is so perfect for the Greek Freak: at 7% ABV, it’s rich and powerful, but also has a touch of vanilla wafer sweetness. Seriously though, have you seen him dunk lately? Unreal.
Los Angeles Lakers
credits:"[Golden Road Brewing / Facebook](https://www.facebook.com/goldenroadbrew/photos/a.268085573276788.64530.116697655082248/1419224021496265/?type=1&theater)" width:450 align:right
Their beer: Golden Road Brewing Wolf Pup Session IPA
Los Angeles, CA
After a decade of dominating the West with Kobe Bryant, the last few years have given us a team that ain’t your daddy’s Lakers. The team continues to rebuild, with rookie Lonzo Ball leading the charge. And he’ll probably lead the team into the playoffs for years to come -- but not in 2018. Even Luke Walton is a little baby in head coach years. So naturally, Golden Road’s Wolf Pup is a perfect beer for this team, which is a cute little puppy wolf, too! Even with a respectable 50 IBUs, the hoppy brew is still sessionable and enjoyable on a sweltering L.A. day. And we bet one day in the near future, the team will mature into a dangerous grown-up wolf to be reckoned with -- just like Wolf Pup’s granddaddy Double IPA, Wolf Among Weeds.
Their beer: Trillium Brewing Co. Mettle DIPA
I can’t bring myself to write about Gordon Hayward’s tragically depressing injury that occurred only minutes into the Celtics season. Also, because I might throw up. But I can write about the rest of the team, now focused around NBA champ Kyrie Irving, veteran Al Horford, and the impressive Jayson Tatum. This team could suck the rest of the year considering one of their main scorers is gone -- but I don’t think it’s likely with the serious amount of mettle the remaining players possess. They’ll likely still make the playoffs and contest the Cavs for best team in the East. So Celtics fans should enjoy Trillium’s double dry-hopped, 8.4% ABV Mettle DIPA while watching each game, courageously looking towards the playoffs and remaining hopeful, rather than getting too bogged down about what could have been.
Note: Golden Road Brewing and Karbach Brewing Co. are members of The High End, which is owned by Anheuser-Busch.