Bubble NBA basketball is finally here — and two craft breweries are creating beers branded for their respective home teams.
Deschutes Brewery will launch Rip City Lager in partnership with the Portland Trail Blazers. The Bend, Oregon-headquartered craft brewery has been the presenting sponsor of the Blazers Radio Network since 2019, and this September will launch the 4.8% ABV lager.
Also today, Framingham, Massachusetts-based Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers announced a four-year partnership with the Boston Celtics that includes the release of Pride and Parquet Hoppy Lager. The beer is slated to be released throughout New England by early winter — for the start of the 2020-21 NBA season.
Deschutes, the 11th largest Brewers Association-defined craft brewery by volume, will release Rip City Lager in the fall in 6-, 12- and 24-packs, as well as 19.2 oz. single-serve cans in Oregon and Washington state. The beer will be also available in Deschutes’ pubs in August.
Rip City is the Blazers’ nickname, dating back to the team’s inaugural season in 1970. The plaid can design — with home and away variants — is a nod to longtime Blazers coach Dr. Jack Ramsay, who wore plaid blazers and coached the team to an NBA championship in 1977.
Speaking to Brewbound, Deschutes chief sales and marketing officer Neal Stewart and Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter president and CEO Chris McGowan said they’re hoping the Blazers, who are currently vying for a playoff spot in the Orlando bubble, can make a strong playoff push.
McGowan noted that this is the first time that a beverage partnership with the Blazers that has featured the Rip City moniker. Deschutes will be able to use the name, as well as Blazers’ logos and trademarks, to promote the beer on packaging and displays, as well as in bars. Stewart added that Rip City will be promoted throughout games on the Blazers Radio Network.
The goal, should the 2020-21 season pick up this December, and fans be allowed to return to games, will be to have the beer available at the Blazers’ home arena, the Moda Center. The beer will also be
Stewart admitted that the home and away cans break one of the conventions of traditional marketing, with the comfort of having a “can in hand.” However, he believes the risk is worth it to offer a unique proposition with the home and away cans, which he believes consumers might save for those occasions in order to feel “more a part of the action.”
Meanwhile, Jack’s Abby called its deal with the Celtics notable for being the first of its kind between a brewery and one of the four major Massachusetts sports teams, as well as the Celtics’ first collaboration project.
“Coming up on 10 years in the business with steady success, we were ready to make a big move,” Jack’s Abby senior director of marketing Rob Day said in a press release. “But you don’t just make a big deal to say you made one. You have to find something that aligns with your values, shares a fan mentality, and can bring something special to your loyal fans. We found all of that and more in the Celtics partnership. They are a legendary institution in New England and the cooperation and enthusiasm of their organization made this a perfect relationship.”
“This partnership has allowed us to collaborate with a rapidly emerging and locally established brand, while also giving back to Celtics fans in more of a unique form,” Ted Dalton, senior VP of corporate partnerships and business development for the Celtics, added. “We look forward to working with Jack’s Abby in strengthening the bond between two New England favorites: beer and basketball.”
Pride and Parquet checks in at 5.7% ABV, and also features can designs to represent home and away jerseys. The can design also pays tribute to the Celtics’ parquet design.
Both announcements coincide with the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season today, which had been put on hold since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Utah Jazz members Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell testing positive for COVID-19.
The beers also follow the release of Mile High City copper lager — a collaboration between the Denver Nuggets and Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Breckenridge Brewery.