The official start to the 2013 NFL season is almost here, and we’re counting down to Sept. 5 by ranking the most impressive rookies out there: Rookie breweries, that is. Whether your team goes 0-16 or dominates into the post-season, you win either way if there’s an all-star brewery in your ’hood. Each week, we’ll examine and rank the most impressive new breweries in each NFL division. Vote for your favorite brewery, and lay out your convincing argument in the comments.
Today, we’re tackling the AFC West.
San Diego Chargers
Rookie player to watch: Every time I hear the name Manti, I immediately think of San Diego’s No. 2 news anchor. Those in the know are giving Mr. Te’o 14/1 odds to win defensive rookie of the year. That’s not too shabby.
Rookie brewery to watch: If this posted a few weeks from now, you’d already know my pick. One of the most exciting new breweries in San Diego (also, the country) is Modern Times, which you’ll find in our upcoming Sept/Oct “Brewery to Watch” department. A pretty awesome array of beer is lined up, from IPAs and saisons with interesting hop varieties to Brett beers. If you live in the area, swing by the brewery on Sept. 7 for the grand opening of its tasting room—lots of amazing-sounding beer on tap.
Rookie player to watch: Lamaar Thomas is buried deep in the Broncos’ wide receivers lineup, but here’s why he’s worth watching: His nickname is “Flash.” Lamaar “Flash” Thomas. The guy went unnoticed in college due to transfers and injury, but he’s basically track-star-quick. In 2009, he helped Ohio State take gold in the 4×100 relay at the Big 10 Track Championships.
Rookie brewery to watch: When longtime homebrewers and BJCP judges tell me to check out a brewery, I make it a mission to go. In this case, it’s Prost Brewing, which opened last fall. Certifiably spot-on German beers. If you’re at GABF in October, check them out (along with the million other breweries in Denver, if you have the time).
Rookie player to watch: Plenty of people are wondering if the Raiders have the worst roster in the NFL. At least they have rookie linebacker Sio Moore, who “proclaimed he was the best linebacker in the draft after his selection.” This happened in the third round, after eight other LBs were picked.
Rookie brewery to watch: Calicraft started releasing its beers late last year, and quickly caught our attention (it was the “Brewery to Watch” in our May/June issue this year). Its flagship Buzzerkeley, a bière de Champagne, is stunning, as are the other culinary-focused beers that source locally harvested ingredients.
Kansas City Chiefs
Rookie player to watch: I went to a game at Arrowhead Stadium last year, and fans had actually paid hundreds of dollars for three planes to circle the stadium pulling banners that read “Fire Pioli, Bench Cassel.” It was awesome. As is common with the fateful Chiefs, the team’s top rookie pick, tackle Eric Fisher, is injured. A little thumb trouble here, a little shoulder trouble there. These things tend to happen in football.
Rookie brewery to watch: Big Rip Brewing is the city’s newest brewery (with a handful slated to open in the coming months) and it’s churning out small-batch beers like Mr. Fancy Pants English Pale Ale, Coffee Porter and Eight Gluten Free Raspberry on weekends at the North Kansas City location. Look for bottles of its Hathor’s Sweet Brown Ale and Great Conjunction Cherry Hefe this fall.
My pick: Modern Times Beer[poll id=”11″]