On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” hosts Adam Teeter, Joanna Sciarrino, and Zach Geballe are finally reunited just in time for football season so they can discuss the centrality of tailgating as a part of football drinking culture, why it varies so much around the country and from college football to the NFL, and how it’s suddenly become big business.

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Adam Teeter: From VinePair’s New York City headquarters, I’m Adam Teeter.

Joanna Sciarrino: And I’m Joanna Sciarrino.

Zach Geballe: And in Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe.

A: And this is the “VinePair Podcast.” All right, guys. It’s Friday.

Z: We’re back. We’re back. We’re back.

A: I know.

J: It’s Friday. We’re back.

A: And the team is back together. You know, Joanna, you tried to leave on Monday. You tried to not be here. You tried to head to Canada. I know what you’re doing. I know what you’re doing.

J: Yeah. Good thing everyone knows where I was and exactly why I was there.

A: I know. You’re welcome.

J: Thank you for sharing.

A: You’re welcome.

Z: The good news is Canada is like the second largest country on Earth by landmass, so I think they would have had a hard time narrowing it down.

J: Yeah.

A: Yeah. I just think she was trying to leave. It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine. Just trying to leave VinePair. It’s all good. But we’re glad you’re back. Thanks for coming back.

J: I’m glad you’re back too, Adam.

A: And yeah. Hey, Zach.

Z: Hi. I’m always here. Never go anywhere.

A: So what’s everyone been up to since I’ve been gone? I mean, I just feel like I need to know. Joanna, how have you been? Zach, how have you been? I mean, I already heard what Zach’s been drinking.

Z: That’s true. Not much.

J: Yeah. That’s true.

A: Yeah. Any cool new things you’ve discovered?

J: Well, yes, actually. I’ll jump in.

A: Fun experiences?

J: I’m going to jump in here.

A: Go.

J: So in the very brief period of time that I was in Canada this past weekend or whatever, last weekend, whenever you think I was there.

A: It was last weekend.

J: I did pick up some Canadian whisky based on some of the emails that we got from some of our listeners. I learned about this one from Charlene Rooke, who’s the drinks editor at LCBO Food & Drink Magazine. But I got some Bearface Triple Oak 7 Year Canadian Whisky. So I guess I’ll talk more about that on Monday. But yeah. So I was just trying to do some more research while there based on people emailing. I had some questionable hard seltzer while I was there as well, but-

A: What made it questionable?

Z: Was it maple syrup-based?

J: It was not good. The flavor was peach cosmo.

A: That’s weird.

J: They’re just trying too hard, I think, at that point. Right?

A: Yeah.

Z: We’re definitely in the trying-too-hard phase of hard seltzer at the moment.

J: Yeah. Agree. Agree. Yeah. So that’s what I’ve been up to.

A: Lovely. Zach, any new development?

Z: I think the only exciting thing for me recently has been my wife and I…  Well, basically, it’s not a fun development, in a sense. Our refrigerator died, and so we’re in the process of getting a new one. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be too painful, but getting a new appliance is never a fun project. But in doing so, there was, of course, the requisite clearing out of the fridge, and in clearing out the fridge there was definitely some digging out of some beers that had been stuck in the back of said fridge, and I actually, apropos of what we’ve been talking about on the podcast lately, turns out I had a fresh hop beer from last year in there, which I pulled out and was like, “Well, I’m going to have to try this,” because the whole point of them is that they’re good fresh. Yeah. I’m not going to say who it was by, because it’s really not anyone’s fault. I stuck it back there and forgot about it, so it’s not like it’s their fault that the beer wasn’t very good, but it’s true that the appeal of the beer is kind of lost when you accidentally age it for a year. So don’t do that, people. Drink your fresh hop beers when you get them.

A: It does die. It dies.

Z: Yeah. I mean, it just didn’t have that much going on. It wasn’t bad.

J: Bad. Yeah.

Z: It just was uninteresting, and therefore why bother?

A: Yeah. That makes sense. That makes sense. So, I mean, besides, obviously, being back from vacation and summer being over and things like that, I’ve been trying as best I can to get back into fall sports, and so I thought it might be fun to have a conversation today about the fall sport tradition in general. Specifically by that I mean football and all of the fun drinks that go along with it. So I’m from the South, obviously, and I grew up in a college town, and for me, actually, the drink that everyone always seemed to consume at football games was not beer. I think most people would think it would be beer.

Z: Interesting.

A: I think I had a very unique experience, because being in a college town, everyone would drink some beer at the tailgates for sure. Right? There’s definitely something to that, right? Like just tailgating, barbecuing, grilling out, whatever you want to call it, and having some light beer. But because alcohol wasn’t allowed and still isn’t allowed in the stadium, there was a lot more consumption of hard liquor than I think is the norm maybe, let’s say, at pro football tailgates. And so for me, what always seemed to be the normal drink was always whiskey and Coke.

Z: Interesting.

A: And I think that was also the case because that was also the easiest thing to sneak into the stadium.

Z: Like a flask or whatever?

A: Minis.

Z: Oh, okay. Okay.

A: So if you go into the bathroom of any SEC football stadium, you will see empty minis in every single stall, and basically what’s happening is people will get there, and I think it’s because you always know soda’s for sale. Right?

Z: Sure.

J: Right.

A: So people will get their large soda, and they will then go to the bathroom with it and dump like three minis into the soda and then go back into the stands. I mean, you can smell the booze all over the stadium, but it’s this sort of unspoken secret. Right?

Z: Yeah.

A: That’s what everyone’s doing. And so that really, for me, was like that’s what you drank at college football games was whiskey and Coke, and I think it-

J: That just seems disastrous to me.

A: Well, Joanna, it is. It is very disastrous, and I think we talked about this a long time ago on the podcast before, but I think that’s one of the biggest problems that college sports has is that, because it’s illegal and the consumption is illegal in the stadium and not sold, I think they’re not actually… It’s the same idea of why we should legalize cannabis and things like that. Right? You’re not preventing the problem. You’re actually potentially making it worse, because people love to-

Z: Well, and you’re incentivizing binging as opposed to-

A: Exactly.

Z: If the main way you get alcohol in a stadium, as it is at an NFL game or other sporting events, is by going to the concessions area, people are inherently probably going to drink less, both because that’s time you’re not in the seat, and presumably you do care about the football game happening or whatever, and can have someone who’s theoretically at least able to detect if someone is past the point of where they should be served, as opposed to a probably not very thorough inspection of their belongings as they enter a game and people dumping three or four minis into a soda and drinking it, kind of chugging it down. Yeah, I think that there’s no doubt that that leads to worse outcomes and worse behavior.

A: Yeah. I mean, it is the definite sort of part of the culture in lots of college sports. But so, yeah. So for me, that’s a quintessential sporting drink. Now I drink lots of different things when I watch the games, but I feel like, for me, if you were to have asked me a long time ago, “What is the drink of choice amongst most people that you know?” it would always be whiskey and Coke when it comes to college football. But I’m curious. What about you?

Z: Well, Adam, actually, wait. I want to ask you a tailgating question first, and then I think maybe Joanna and I can share our thoughts. So because you grew up around tailgating kind of as a weekly thing. I mean, I don’t know if you guys tailgated weekly or if every week there was a home game?

A: Hell yeah. No, we did.

Z: So the question I have for you is twofold. One is: When did it start? How much before the game starts did you show up or did people show up? Is it like an all-day thing? Or is it like a two-hour kind of deal?

A: Thursday.

Z: Okay. Okay.

J: Really?

Z: There we go.

A: Yeah. I mean most people will start tailgating for big games in college towns on Thursday.

Z: Wow. For those who don’t listen, the games are played on Saturday in general.

A: Yeah. So the people who have the RVs, who are huge college football fans — this is the SEC, the only conference that matters — but the people who have the RVs, they’re coming into town on Wednesdays or Thursdays, and so you would see them start to sort of tailgate on Thursday nights and then have people, parties, etc. Then Friday is a pretty tame day, but that’s when people who drove in with their cars would start setting up their tents and things like that. And then if you hadn’t come in by then, you didn’t have a good spot.

Z: Wow.

A: Look. A lot of this has changed, because it’s actually a company that started at Auburn, actually. It’s called the Tailgate Guys, and they started out of Auburn, and now they’re owned by a company called REVELxp. They were bought by private equity. And they now do turnkey tailgating at basically all the top universities in the country.

Z: Wow.

A: So now it’s really a smart business. These guys are multi-multi-multi-millionaires now. When I was a kid, even in high school, we would tailgate, and you would have to get there very early to get your spot.

J: So what would you do? You would drive with your family there to the stadium?

A: You mean what would I do? Or what would-

J: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s what I mean.

A: I wasn’t tailgating with my parents.

J: Oh, okay.

A: I mean, when you were in high school?

J: Mom and Dad are taking me to the stadium.

A: You were trying to tailgate somewhere else where maybe you might kind of, if you’re in high school, look like you could be a college student, and so therefore that drink in your hand was not as big of a deal. But no. So what people would do is someone would go and claim the spot. Joanna, this would be similar to you know in Prospect Park when you see the families who are, like they rope off an area for some party and there’s like one-

J: There’s a picnic later in the day.

A: There’s an uncle sitting there at like 6 in the morning who’s been assigned by the family to read the book and claim the spot all morning. That’s exactly what happens. So people go all over campus, and they will rope off areas with tape or whatever, and they’ll start setting up. Now, you’re less likely to get your spot challenged if you’re cooking something. Right? Or you’re barbecuing or whatever. The people that get kind of harassed are people who are just kind of sitting there reading a book, like, “You guys aren’t using the space, yada, yada, yada.” And then you have all these people like, “We’ve been tailgating here for 20 years.” That happened to me the first year I had my car and we were going to tailgate as high school kids, and we went to claim a spot the Thursday before, because we lived in town, so we thought that it was like, “This is our town. We’re just going to claim this spot.” And when we showed up Saturday morning, there were these people that were alums from 30 years ago, and they were pissed that we were in their spot that they’ve been tailgating in for 25 years. And we’re stupid kids, so we were like, “You can’t tell us what to do.” Didn’t end well. But now there’s this thing, the Tailgate Guys, and so you’re now paying, and these tailgates, what’s amazing about them is they come with bartenders.

J: Wow.

Z: Wow.

A: You could pay for a full package with a bartender, full catering, all this stuff. They’ve changed the game. And so now you see this a lot. When I went to the Penn State/Auburn game last year in Penn State, they did all the Penn State tailgating too. And so alumni organizations, companies, etc., will have these huge tents that are run by this company that’s doing everything.

J: So you don’t need a space, then. You just need to be there, and you can go to these tents?

A: Right. Because they claimed it for you. Right.

J: Got it.

A: And I think it’s smart. Right? They’re probably pre-arranging with every university to have a whole area that’s designated for them and their clients. So the university is getting a kickback, and then there’s no challenge. At Auburn, it’s the huge area right outside the stadium around the eagle habitat, because one of the mascots of Auburn is an eagle, because War Eagle, and there’s a huge eagle habitat. Because Auburn has one of the best, I don’t know, endangered wildlife bird centers in the country. Whatever.

J: Wow.

A: So they’re all around there, which is where people want to be, and now you’re guaranteed. So those people probably aren’t showing up until six or seven hours before the game, but you’re showing up very, very, very early. If your kickoff is noon, you are at your tailgate at 6.

Z: Wow. Joanna, have you ever been to a football tailgate?

J: No. I was just thinking about this. I don’t think I’ve ever been. Even just growing up, going to an NFL game or anything with my family, didn’t do a tailgate. I don’t know why.

A: It’s amazing.

J: It just wasn’t something we ever really participated in. It wasn’t a tradition that my parents did, and we weren’t really big in professional sports and going to games and stuff. So yeah. I just totally missed it and then didn’t go to a school that really did the college sports thing, either.

Z: Yeah. I think that describes all of us.

A: Yeah. I mean, I didn’t go to an undergrad that did the college sports thing, but I just happened to grow up in one.

J: Right.

Z: Yeah.

A: But it is. It’s like I think so much drinking culture comes out of this stuff.

J: Yes. Yes.

Z: Yeah.

A: And so obviously there’s the whiskey and Cokes, but I think you can see the trends. When I go back, you’ll see the seltzer craze. I mean, everywhere you go now, basically, there’s High Noons everywhere and White Claws everywhere. You know?

Z: Yeah.

A: At these fully stocked bars, the Tailgate Guys, people are drinking Champagne and wine, because they can.

Z: Yeah.

A: I think that that was probably something that didn’t happen as much, but now with people looking for a higher-end experience, you’re finding this in the same way. And I think this is where a lot of drinking games, flip cup, beer pong, everyone’s set up and playing, is just part of the culture, and there are universities where the tailgating experience is way more famous than the team.

J: That’s so funny.

A: I mean, I’m sorry if you’re an Ole Miss person out there, but your team’s not that great. Maybe sort of this year. Maybe. But The Grove is world famous. People all want to go to Oxford, Miss., just to experience The Grove once.

Z: Yeah. Well, and, Adam, I think you make a point, and I would say it’s not even just that the drinks culture things emerge from tailgating culture, but for a not insignificant set of people in this country, the college football tailgate is their introduction to drinking culture, period.

A: 100 percent.

Z: For a lot of people, whether it’s in an early stage like you growing up in a college town or, I think, for a lot more people, college is a time when a lot of people are exposed to drinking, and if you go to a school, as there are many across the country, where the college football tailgate is a big part of the college experience — even if you don’t give a sh*t about football, even if you don’t go to the game — the pregame tailgate, that whole vibe, is such an indoctrination into American drinking culture, and it’s something that I’ve only really experienced secondhand. I mean, I, like you guys, went to a school that did not have a college football team at all in my case. I grew up in Seattle, where obviously there is a college football team and a big tailgating culture. I went to a few University of Washington games growing up, but I went to one tailgate. I’ve been to one as an adult, and it was fine. We drank beer and ate, I don’t know, barbecue or whatever. It was fine. And I’ve been to one Seahawks tailgate, which was a little more fun, but also at that point had already moved into this kind of borderline sterile, very controlled environment. When I was a kid, I’ve heard about how in the NFL it used to be more of a free-for-all, and just because of the money at stake, those things have become much more regulated if they’re even allowed. I think there are probably some stadiums now where you can’t even really tailgate properly, from what I understand. But for a college student, I think, yeah, the tailgate if you go to that kind of school is a huge part of how you learn about a significant way that America drinks.

J: Yeah. And also, like Adam said, too, if you’re from a place where even if you don’t go to that school, it’s a really big presence in your town. I had a friend who I went to school with — she was from Columbus, Ohio — and OSU was such a big part of her growing up and going to those games and town pride, even though she didn’t go to that school.

A: Yeah. I mean, and look. Depending on where you live, too, it’s what you wear. I mean, in the South, people dress up. They wear very nice clothes, jackets and ties, and people take dates to tailgate, like, “Hey, do you want to go tailgating with me?” and it’s like a date, and it’s like a big thing. It’s the Saturday happening.

Z: Yeah. Yeah.

J: Yeah.

A: And yeah. And depending on who you’re with or what you’re doing, there’s lots of different kinds of drinks, and I think it is a way that a lot of people learn. And now that there are these companies like the Tailgate Guys, there’s a lot more cocktails. You definitely see a lot more cocktails and a lot more wine, and I think that is spilling out from people having that experience at home, where at home now when they’re watching the games, they might be drinking cocktails or having really nice wine, etc. They’re not just drinking light beer, which is what I think we assume based on just sports, like, beer’s owned sports for so long, and we’ve had this conversation as well. But because all of it now is sort of an entertaining experience, it’s an excuse to entertain and get together. The sport obviously is something that there’s a large portion of the people attending that they care deeply about, but there’s just as many, Zach, as you said, who don’t really care. They don’t even go into the game.

J: Yeah.

Z: I have a question about this, actually, that this just prompted, this conversation about the Tailgate Guys and stuff like that. Do you think that between maybe the rise of companies like that and just sort of what’s happening broadly, are tailgates at different college football stadiums, say, as distinctive as they used to be? I wonder if there’s a little more homogeneity in terms of what people are actually drinking. I mean, maybe even across the country, if not regionally. I have no frame of reference. I don’t know. Maybe it’s always been homogenous. But I kind of envision a tailgate at, as Joanna was mentioning, at Ohio State being different from a tailgate at Auburn being different from a tailgate at UCLA. And to some extent I’m sure they are, but I wonder if some of those differences have been smoothed over by just a variety of things. If it would be harder to tell where you are at a tailgate without just looking at what people are drinking.

A: So I will say, having just done this at Penn State, they’re very different still based on the regions. So for example, at Penn State, everyone tailgates in parking lots, because whether the Southern universities are correct or not, they let you tailgate anywhere on their campus for the most part. Some places have started passing regulations. Right? You can’t do it on the historic quad or whatever. But in a lot of the bigger Big 10 schools, it’s relegated to these larger lots, which feels a lot more like pro style. Now, it still seems to start pretty early in the morning, but when I was walking around campus, I didn’t have the same feeling as I did when you walk around campus at Auburn and it’s just everywhere. The other thing I will say is it did feel regional in the things people were drinking. I didn’t see a lot of whiskey and Cokes — bourbon and Coke, let’s be clear — at Penn State. I saw a lot more High Noon. A lot more High Noon. A lot more seltzer. I saw vodka a little bit, but I think that’s just a regional thing too. Bourbon’s always been a Southern thing, and so people are going to drink bourbon. So that, I think, was regional. And then the dress. I mean, I do think it was really interesting to me when I first went to a Big 10 football game, actually, to see that people are much more likely at those games to wear jerseys and T-shirts, whatever. And in the South, people dress up. It’s really crazy. And I don’t know why that is. I don’t know how that started. It’s probably something from way, way, way back. But that also sort of has a different feel to it. But then, yes, we went down to the Tailgate Guys area, and you could have been anywhere. It was just a really nice tailgate.

J: I did go to a school in the South for two years, and they did have a tradition before football games of roasting a pig, and so it was called pig roast, and it happened on Saturdays, and I hated it and really didn’t like to go.

A: I hated it.

J: Plus, it was also a lot of day drinking, and people were dressed up.

A: Yeah.

Z: Yeah. All those horrible things, apparently, Joanna.

J: I’m really bad at day drinking.

A: Oh. I’m bad at day drinking too.

J: Yeah. So yes.

Z: I was not bad at it when I was in college. I was better at it then.

J: But yes. Definitely this tradition of getting dressed up, and everybody was in dresses and suits and jackets, and it was just ridiculous.

A: Did you ever try the pig, though? Was it good?

J: Yeah. The pig was good.

A: I have to imagine that that was awesome.

J: Yeah.

A: That was probably very tasty.

Z: You’d hope so.

J: Yes.

A: Yeah. But, I mean, I think the tradition of tailgating, though — I mean, I’ve never been to any of these places — but it feels like the only places in the pros that maybe have tailgating traditions that are taken as seriously — don’t come after me, Eagles fans, please don’t — as college are the pro teams in smaller markets, like Buffalo, Green Bay, etc., where, again, it’s kind of a happening of the whole town. I mean, look, and I’m only saying that about Buffalo because they jump on folding tables.

Z: Yeah. There’s that whole amateur wrestling show that comes along with tailgating.

A: Yeah.

J: Really?

A: Yeah. But do you know what I mean? Whereas in the bigger cities, tailgating is really only happening in the parking lot around the stadium and you don’t feel it in the rest of the city. I mean, I used to joke like you can walk around New York City and have no clue that the Giants or the Jets are playing. You would have no clue.

Z: Well, for one, because they’re playing in New Jersey, but also sure.

A: In Philly, though, and also because you have people from everywhere and they don’t really care. I mean, in Philly, I guess you would know that the Eagles are playing. But still, there’s not this tailgate atmosphere, whereas I kind of get this sense that in Green Bay or in Buffalo, etc., probably in Cincinnati, it really feels like this is what’s happening in the entire town right now, and those places apparently do have a richer tailgating tradition that people really get up for and get really into and have specific dishes they make and specific drinks that they make.

Z: Well, yeah. You have to have that sort of, this is the big event of the week for the entire community vibe, and that’s maybe easier to capture in a college town than in a city. But even in, as you said, in some of the smaller cities that make up the NFL, it’s totally believable that, yeah, Buffalo or Green Bay would, I mean, I know Green Bay almost literally does shut down for Packer home games. It’s just a different vibe that you could never recreate in a bigger city, because, yeah, there’s going to be so many people who just don’t care. They don’t even realize. They’re unmoved by the whole thing, and so you’re never going to have that same kind of “everyone doing the same thing” kind of experience.

J: But I also feel like those smaller cities that have these robust professional tailgating events also had robust college ones too.

Z: But there’s not a big… I mean, whatever, University of Buffalo I don’t think is a big. Maybe they have a tailgating scene or whatever.

J: Right.

Z: There’s no big college in Green Bay. It’s like the pro team is functionally the college team for the way it sort of takes over the city’s identity.

J: Yeah.

A: Well, and to be fair, that’s what happens for these big colleges. These colleges that are the ones with the biggest, the richest tailgating traditions are where the college team is the pro team in that region.

Z: Exactly, and it’s why the University of Washington football is not, it’s a big-ish deal in Seattle, but the number of people who live here who are big Husky fans is definitely smaller than the number of people who are Seahawks fans, because people take on the pro franchises of places they move in a way that they don’t with colleges. Or they’re like me. I didn’t go to the University of Washington, even though I grew up here, so I like the Huskies fine, but it doesn’t mean much to me whether they’re good or bad in the way that it does with the Seahawks, and I think that’s why in big cities generally where there might be a pro team and a big college, I can’t imagine the college tailgating is as kind of intense as it is in a place where the college team is the biggest show in town.

A: Yeah. Yeah. Or historically, even if you look at the University of Georgia, the Falcons were terrible for so long that basically Georgia was, they still are terrible.

Z: But also they’re in Athens, they’re not in Atlanta.

A: But 45 minutes.

Z: They’re not in the same city. Well, I don’t know. I’ll default to your understanding of Georgia sports politics or whatever. But yeah.

A: Well, no. In Atlanta, you know when the Bulldogs are playing is what I’m trying to say. Sorry.

Z: Sure. Sure.

J: Gotcha.

A: It feels like it’s still a very big deal for that city, which is funny because the team is 45 minutes away, but it’s because they didn’t have a great NFL team until they got Michael Vick. So this is turning into a football podcast.

Z: They made the Super Bowl before that, but we don’t need to go through NFL history. That’s cool.

A: Yeah. But you know, no one cared. So I think it’s interesting. But I’m curious, because we haven’t gotten there yet. Joanna, when you are watching a game, do you have a preferred drink? Do you have something that you defer to? Is there something you would like to drink?

Z: And I have to ask Joanna on top of this, how was your seafood tower for the fantasy football draft? I’ve been wondering.

J: It was very good. Thank you. Yes.

Z: Okay.

J: It was good.

Z: I hope you get one every week.

J: A very good distraction. Yeah. So I guess the times that I watch football or have watched football, it’s very different. I associate it more with fall and it being cooler out and not wanting light beer or anything and being in my apartment or in an apartment. So I have a Guinness here, because I feel like this feels more appropriate or better than a light beer or an IPA for me, without having a cocktail.

Z: Yeah. Nothing says American football like an Irish beer.

J: Yeah.

Z: Nice job, Joanna.

J: I don’t know. Like a stout.

Z: Yeah. No. It’s a good call.

A: They are the official sponsor of Notre Dame.

Z: Oh. Well, that makes sense.

J: There you go.

A: Yeah. Guinness is official. They did a very brilliant sponsorship deal, and they — I did not know this was legal — but they sponsored the alumni association.

Z: Oh. Clever.

A: So by sponsoring the alumni association, they get around the fact that Notre Dame still doesn’t sell beer in the stadium, and they’re able to associate Guinness with the Fighting Irish, and it’s very smart. So very smart.

J: Smart. Very smart.

A: Yeah. Very smart.

Z: Also, I won’t talk any sh*t about Guinness. Guinness is delicious.

J: Yeah. Yeah.

A: Yeah.

J: I mean, the only other thing I was thinking of was like a mulled cider also works for me.

Z: Interesting.

A: Also a good one.

J: I can’t wait to hear what you guys are drinking.

Z: I’m sure you saw lots and lots of vats of mulled cider at those Auburn games. Right, Adam? Just everyone chugging mulled cider?

A: Did I see vats and vats of mulled cider? There was some cider, actually, because there are people that will theme their tailgates, so every weekend will be a different theme. So yes. There are definitely mulled ciders.

Z: And I guess late in the season does it get cold?

A: Yes. It does.

Z: Okay. So there you go.

A: And if it is cold, I mean, and also you have to remember it’s the South. So if it’s in the 60s, people are like, “Oh, my god. It’s a frigid one.” People bust out the sweaters, and they’re all excited. And yes, I’ve seen mulled cider, mulled wine. Especially around the late-October games when everyone’s trying to play that “It’s fall, f*ckers” game, all that stuff comes out. Yeah. I mean, I used to have a friend whose mom… So basically when you were in high school, you would have your own tailgate, but we didn’t do much. Right? We’d show up with some Subway sandwiches, and it was very rare that anyone tried to cook. And then you would bounce around to all the people’s parents’ tailgates, and one of my friends, his mom, took it very, very, very seriously, and every single weekend was a different theme, and she definitely always had mulled cider.

J: Yeah.

Z: There you go.

J: I mean the NFL season goes to, I mean, February. Right? So January games. So this is a cold-weather sport for me.

Z: Oh. For sure. For sure.

A: It is.

J: Okay.

A: Yeah.

Z: It’s easy to forget here in the early days or middle of September. I suppose that, yes, there will be some frigid, frigid football games soon.

J: Yeah. All right. What are you guys drinking then? Because I’m wrong, apparently.

A: No. You’re not.

Z: No, no, no. I was just giving you a hard time, because I can. I missed you guys. You know?

A: Yeah.

Z: It’s nice to have everyone back. I have the official, well, not official, but official beer of tailgating in Seattle, which is Rainier. It’s sadly no longer actually brewed in Seattle, but it’s still, I think, the most ubiquitous thing I’ve seen at tailgating and gatherings of people to watch sporting events more generally. It’s fine. I drink Rainier because it’s totally fine, but I don’t get that excited about it, but it seemed appropriate for this theme.

A: For me, actually, so when I tailgate, I will not drink liquor. I’m not going to make it through the game.

J: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly.

A: So I’ll either have a beer, or when I’m at home I drink wine, because I’m bougie like that. So if I’m hanging out, like when I was watching Auburn this last weekend on Saturday night, Naomi was like, “I’m going to bed.” I was like, “Cool,” and I stayed up, and I had a sparkling Riesling from Michigan.

J: What? Classic pairing.

A: Classic pairing, and it was really delicious, and I watched.

Z: Make sure that the next time you contract with the Tailgate Guys, they make sure you have lots of Sparkling Riesling ready for you.

A: Yeah. I watched my team be terrible this year. They barely beat a f*cking Group of 5 team. No offense to San Jose State, but come on. So yeah. That was my drink of choice. I don’t know. I’m at the point where I want to drink sessionally and have a nice glass or two of something while I watch the game. I’ve also never been that kind of sports fan that was like, “Oh. If we lose, I have to drink to forget about it,” You know? It’s never been my thing, because then it’s just not that much fun for me.

J: It’s not fun for anyone, really.

A: No.

Z: On that note, very quickly, I have also found that, for me, with football in particular, it’s like the one sport that’s, actually, like I don’t enjoy drinking during it as much. We’re recording this on Monday shortly before the Seahawks play their first game.

A: Oh, I’m going to be watching.

Z: On Monday Night Football. Yeah. A rather important game for them.

A: Russell Wilson returns to Seattle.

Z: Yeah. A range of storylines. You all will know how it turns out when you hear this. But for me, it’s like you would think that that would be like, “It’s a Monday night game. Of course I’ll have a beer or two or something,” but there’s something about watching football that I care about. There’s something about the way it makes me feel that if I drink, it’s just like I can’t do it. I might have a beer over the course of the game, but I used to be able to drink beer and watch football. I don’t know, as I’ve gotten older, it’s just like the weird stress that football in particular puts me under, It doesn’t work.

J: You just stay clear headed.

Z: I think I need to take up marijuana as a substitute, because I think it would calm me more than what beer does.

J: Sure.

A: Well, I’m curious. For those that listen, do you have any amazing tailgate memories, any places that you-

Z: Yeah. Invite us to your tailgates.

A: So first of all, if anyone ever wants to come see Auburn, let me know. It’s a lot of fun. I think Auburn’s-

J: Who? Us?

A: Oh, yeah. You should totally come. It’s great.

Z: Yeah. We can do a show down there.

A: I think Auburn’s one of the best tailgate experiences. Obviously, you have The Grove. Athens is amazing. The only place that I think is one of the most horrible places in the world to tailgate is Tuscaloosa.

Z: It really is.

J: We’re so sorry if you live there.

A: Yeah. It’s a horrible, horrible place. Ann Arbor’s supposed to be amazing. Bloomington I’ve done before. That’s fun. I’d be curious about the West Coast. But yeah. If you have amazing places that you have tailgated in, please let us know,

J: And tell us your tailgate drinks.

A: Yeah. We want to know. Hook us up. Let us know what they are. And, Zach and Joanna, I’ll talk to you on Monday.

J: Have a great weekend.

Z: Sounds great.

Thanks so much for listening to the “VinePair Podcast.” If you love this show as much as we love making it, please leave us a rating or review on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever it is you get your podcasts. It really helps everyone else discover the show.

Now for the credits. VinePair is produced and recorded in New York City and Seattle, Washington, by myself and Zach Geballe, who does all the editing and loves to get the credit. Also, I would love to give a special shout-out to my VinePair co-founder, Josh Malin, for helping make all of this possible, and also to Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director, who is additionally a producer on the show. I also want to, of course, thank every other member of the VinePair team, who are instrumental in all of the ideas that go into making the show every week. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you again.

Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity.