That is the NFL record number of consecutive starts by a quarterback set by former three-time NFL MVP, Superbowl Champion and future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Brett Favre. Think about that for a second… 321. Ridiculous. And it will never be broken.
As a huge lifelong Green Bay Packers fan and season ticket holder I watched most (if not all) of the games Brett Favre played in a Packers jersey. You know what else I’m a huge fan of? Beer. Craft beer to be precise. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say I may have consecutively enjoyed 321+ craft brews while witnessing Favre’s amazing feats on the field.
In the great year of 2015 – the one in which the U.S. craft beer industry may break a record of its own – my two loves have finally come together, courtesy of Badger State Brewing. In celebration of Brett Favre’s Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame induction this past summer and his number retirement ceremony scheduled for Thanksgiving night, Badger State Brewing has released a Brett Favre tribute beer named Legendary Pass. Legendary Pass was crafted as a well thought out spicy IPA.
You may be wondering what kind of brewery receives the honor of brewing a beer to honor a legend and why. Well, Badger State Brewing is located directly behind Brett Farve’s Steakhouse and boxed in by four streets named after Packer greats: Vince Lombardi, Mike Holmgren, Tony Canadeo and Reggie White. A mere two block walk to legendary Lambeau Field puts Badger State Brewing in the epicenter of Packers pregame activities. It is literally a perfect place to tailgate on game day or enjoy a pint-or-flight when touring the district.
That’s exactly what I was doing Sunday morning prior to the Packers-Lions game when I caught up with Badger State’s Head of Brewing, Sam Yanda. Yanda, along with partners Michael Servi and Andrew Fabry, has found early success since opening the brewery’s doors less than two years ago – its Green Chop session IPA is already being sold at Lambeau. The fact that the young trio are Green Bay natives, which automatically makes them Packers fans, coupled with their presence in the shadow of Lambeau field helped spawn the idea of a Favre Tribute beer.
“Win or lose Favre kept every game interesting so we wanted the beer to reflect that” Yanda said. “We are all hop heads here, so I don’t think there was really a discussion it would be anything other than an IPA, and Favre’s a Cajun so we knew we wanted to go in that direction as well.”
Favre’s home town is Kiln, Mississippi. So, the Badger State team wanted to give a shout out to the bayou that spawned the legendary QB with a spicy note reflecting the Cajun taste of the south. Cheyenne pepper was the obvious choice but also a first for Yanda. “Let’s just say we over did it a little in the first batch” Yanda said with a grin, hinting it was undrinkable. “We brewed four batches before we got it right.”
As for the hops, four varieties were used. Warrior hops were used for bittering and as a tribute to the toughness that made Favre’s starting streak possible. The brew’s hop flavoring and aroma comes from Cascade, Centennial and dry-hopped Amarillo. “We got exactly what we were looking for.” said Yanda proudly, “it’s a really great combination of hops.” I couldn’t agree more.
Graciously, the guys at Badger State allowed me bring a bottle home ahead of the release date. That great hop combo makes Legendary Pass a very smooth IPA, finishing at 80 IBUs. As for the Cheyenne pepper, there’s just enough heat to be noticeable, but it’s the pepper’s flavor that really contributes.
Legendary Pass pours clean, clear and golden to compliment the hops and make this beer worthy of the ‘Green & Gold’ faithful. Finally, the 7.5% ABV gives Legendary Pass some teeth, perfect for a .750 bottle.
Truly created for the fans of Green Bay, Legendary Pass was released November 18th and only 44 cases will be available in the local market. Another 40 available in the brewery’s tap room. A few local establishments will also have it on tap. Yanda said this is a one-off creation and came just short of guaranteeing it “…won’t come out of retirement.”
Over the past century, the Packers have created a very unique relationship with the people of Green Bay. Hell, half the city owns a part of the the team. Every fan in Green Bay celebrates the team and players’ accomplishments the best way they know how, and for young Badger State Brewing that way was to create good damn beer, paying homage to a great damn player. What they may or may not have realized while doing it is that they may have solidified a legendary legacy of their own.