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Tailgating Tips, Tricks + Top Breweries to Visit to get into the Fall Spirit

History | Recipes | Items Needed | Pro Tips

Tailgating is a time-honored tradition with a rich history for many sports fans, but it's also a great way to spend time with your family and friends. We’ve got some great ideas to make the most of this pastime with tailgating tips and some tasty tailgating recipes. Plus, we'll share 5 of the top rated craft beer breweries in the United States that are perfect destinations this Fall season. From pumpkin ales and porters to Oktoberfest beers, there's something for everyone. It's time to break out your favorite team's jersey, pack your cooler and get ready for the big game!

Tailgating History 

Modern tailgating shares it roots with what could be called the birth of American football rivalries: the 1869 New Jersey vs. Rutgers football game. This was the first ever football game and it was played more like soccer than today’s football. Funnily enough, a major player on the winning Rutgers team was the Union Civil War veteran named Madison M. Ball! By several accounts it was a fine game and a fine party, until immediately after the game the New Jersey Tigers were run out of town by the victorious Rutgers students. The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) players quickly jumped in their carriages for the 20-mile trip back to their campus. Talk about a long ride home! 

 Arnold Friberg’s 1968 oil painting, “The First Game” 

But an even less civil and earlier tailgating took place 8 years earlier during the First Battle of Bull Run. Boisterous Union supporters from Washington, D.C. (30 miles away) were carrying food and shouting, “Go Big Blue!” at this opening battle of the Civil War. Then there is the “father of the Texas Panhandle,” Charles Goodnight. This Confederate Army soldier, rancher, and bon vivant saw the need of the cowboys for a rolling chow hall. By converting a U.S. Army Studebaker wagon into a chuckwagon in 1866, he had a fully mobile kitchen not dissimilar from the modern tailgater. 

A chuckwagon at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo 2007 in Austin, Texas, United States. Larry D. Moore

One hand washes the other. Part of the reason the Studebaker Manufacturing Company grew into the automobile industry was the Union Army’s need for their wagons. Part of the reason the tailgating culture grew was the introduction of the automobile, particularly the Station Wagon. Part of the reason the sports industry grew is because tailgating is way fun! Today, tailgating is sophisticated enough to include generator powered entertainment systems equipped with satellite uplinks so fans can watch the action from their parking lots! Pretty cool right? It is so cool we can see why the “commissioner of tailgating,” Joe Cahn, has been to more than 1,000 tailgates in 20 years. 

Be Prepared: Items Needed for the Perfect Tailgate

1. Power source – If you do not have a generator make sure you have enough batteries, power cords, and fully charged devices. 

2. Grill and/or smoker – Make sure it is portable and efficient. Click here for a list of 6 highly recommended grills. Flat top grills are excellent for breakfast foods 

3. Cooking tools – Of course you can buy a set of these, but you will not need to if you already have many of these items: spatulas, knives, meat thermometer, cutting board, bottle openers, tongs, can opener, toothpicks, wooden skewers, basting brush, propane (or alternate heat source), and a grill brush. 

4. Clean up and Containers – trash bags, trash can, paper towels, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, tin foil, plastic zip bags, Tupperware, a marker for labeling, and an ice filled cooler for drinks 

5. Comfort – folding tent, folding chairs, folding table, umbrellas, sunscreen, and ponchos in case of rain 

6. Entertainment – music players, satellite T.V., games (cornhole and beer pong are supper easy DIY games.)  

7. Do not forget to bring extra supplies in case a friendly neighbors need something! 

Tailgating Tips from the Pros

*Pro Tip* A cooler can be a warming oven if you place heated, foil wrapped bricks inside. Just remember to wrap them in a towel and place them on another towel so you do not melt your cooler or other items. 

*Pro Tip* A empty beer or soda case can be used as a trashcan and a six pack holder can be used for condiments or eating utensils.

*Pro Tip* Make a handwashing station using an empty laundry detergent dispenser. 

*Pro Tip* Packing a cooler efficiently means packing chilled drinks on the bottom, ice on top of drinks, and plastic wrapped goods on ice. A fully packed cooler means less warm air sneaking in. 

*Pro Tip* Bungie cords are great for suspending or securing things like paper towels or wet clothes that need drying.

*Pro Tip* A helium balloon tied to your car can help friends find you!

Tailgating Recipes 

Mini Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas (serves 8) 

Ingredients 

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 

2 tablespoons of BBQ dry rub seasoning 

16 4-inch flour tortillas 

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese 

4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted) 

1/3 cup hot sauce

1 can canola cooking spray 

1 red bell pepper (julienned) 

Instructions 

  • Set grill to medium-high heat (400°F). Add 1–2 chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the charcoal briquets. 
  • Season chicken thighs heavily on both sides with BBQ dry rub. Place thighs on the grill and cook until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (about 5 minutes on each side). 
  • Once done, move thighs from grill and allow them to cool before chopping them finely. 
  • As the chicken rests, combine and blend well the blue cheese and mozzarella cheese in a medium bowl. 
  •  Combine and stir melted butter and hot sauce in a large mixing bowl before adding the chopped chicken to the hot sauce mixture. 
  • Spray one side of 8 flour tortillas with cooking spray and lay them oiled side down on a large platter or sheet pan. Top each tortilla with a tablespoon of the cheese mixture. Add roughly ¼ cup buffalo chicken, 4–6 slices red bell pepper and another tablespoon of the cheese mixture. Top with the remaining tortillas and spray with cooking spray. 
  • Grill the quesadillas for 3–4 minutes per side until tortillas are lightly browned and the cheese has completely melted. Remove quesadillas from the grill, cut into quarters, serve, and enjoy the copious lauding from friends! 

Bacon and Grilled Cheeseburger Sliders

Ingredients 

1½ pounds ground beef  

Salt and pepper 

3 slices of cheddar cheese 

3 slices of mozzarella cheese 

6 slices of white bread 

1 can of canola cooking spray 

12 slices of cooked bacon (cut in half) 

Instructions 

  • Set grill to medium-high temperature (400°F). 
  • Gently form ground beef into 12 patties and generously season both sides of patties with salt and pepper. Leave aside until ready to grill. 
  • Place one slice of cheddar and one slice of mozzarella cheese between two slices of bread. Spray the top and bottom of cheese sandwiches with canola oil and grill each side for 2-3 minutes. Gently press down on them with a spatula until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Remove grilled cheese sandwiches from the grill and cut into four squares. 
  • Grill burgers until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F. Place each patty on a grilled cheese section, top with 2 small slices of bacon and another grilled cheese section. Serve and enjoy! 

5 Top Rated Craft Brewing Companies in the United States 

1. New Belgium Brewing Company - This environmentally conscious brewery is the creator of Fat Tire Beer and located in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

The New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO. | 12 March 2007 | M. Doxtad

2. Boston Beer Co. - Creator of Samuel Adams, Boston Beer Co. Is the second largest craft brewery in sales. 

Boilers at the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston, Massachusetts. | 7 April 2006 | Kafziel at English Wikipedia

3. Goose Island Brewery – This Anheuser-Busch InBev owned brewery began as a Chicagoan brewpub in 1988. 

Goose Island Brewpub I guess it's obvious to all, but these are some of the beer taps at the Goose Island Brewpub on Clybourn in Chicago. | 20 June 2010 | Bernt Rostad | https://www.flickr.com/photos/brostad/4754050823

4. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Located in Chico, California, this is one of the largest craft producers in America. The Pale Ale is their best known brew. 

Headquarters of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California, on April 17, 2021. | Frank Schulenburg

5. Dog Fish Head Craft Brewery – Located in Milton, Delaware, Dog Fish Head was a pioneer in the “extreme beers.” Extreme beers are higher in alcohol content and use unusual ingredients. 

Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware. | 24 March 2010 | Bernt Rostad from Oslo, Norway

There's no better way to get into the fall spirit than by tailgating at a football game or going on a brewery tour. Get ready for your next tailgate with these tips, tricks and recipes. There are also plenty of breweries across the U.S. that host tailgates before games or on game days themselves!  

Searching for more recipes? Check out this Tailgating Tips + Recipes Pinterest Board! 

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start tailgating! Make sure to take lots of pictures at the next big game celebration and share them on Facebook and Instagram! GO, TEAM, GO! 

Be sure to subscribe to The Holiday Blog. Each week, we promise to share DIY projects, tasty recipes, fun projects and family activities to celebrate holiday magic all year long!  

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