Sunday, February 2, it was Seattle versus Denver going head-to-head in the Super Bowl. Leading up to the football game of the year, residents of each city were playing full-on defense for the virtues of their hometown. Beyond the trash talk, the truth is that, as cities, they're similar – great places to get outdoors, drink beer, eat well, and catch a concert. They're roughly the same size: As of 2012, the difference in their respective population counts was only 271 souls, with Seattle in the lead. And they both have excellent craft beer scenes, acclaimed restaurants, beautiful scenery, die-hard fans, and legal weed. The only question is which one deserves our – and your – allegiance.
To make a tricky decision easier, we pitted each city's subcultures against each other, asking the experts who live there to make the case for local superiority in six arenas that deeply affect a man's quality of life. Predictably, competition was fierce.
Can lovers versus craft hoarders
Denver: The city is "a beer lover's heaven," according to Steve Kurowski, who works in marketing for the Colorado Brewers Guild. Denver is home to 32 breweries producing more than 20,000 barrels a year and hosts the biggest beer gathering in the nation, the Great American Beer Festival. Mile High stadium has craft beer stands serving local brews from Oskar Blues, Odell, and New Belgium. The craft culture extends even to Coors Field, which plans to open a craft beer bar and balcony in the coming year. Kuroski says that one edge Denver has is that about 20 of its breweries sell cans, making tailgating that much more convenient. He’s not dismissive of Seattle, but he doesn't sound impressed either. "We keep an eye on what they're doing up there," says Kuroski, "but we feel we have our own approach, vibe, and momentum."
Super Bowl Beer: West Flanders created Brett on the Broncos, a sour brew made with brettanomyces yeast from Belgium. Thanks to a cease-and-desist letter from the NFL, the name had to be changed to Omaha! Omaha! Brett, in honor of Peyton Manning's snap count.
Seattle: "In the Seattle metro, 25 percent of all beer consumed is craft beer," says Kendall Jones of the Washington Beer Blog. "That's about triple the national average and more than any city but Portland, Oregon." In recent years, Seattle's brewing scene has exploded and there are now more than 40 breweries in the city limits. Elysian, Hale's Ales, Pyramid, Redhook are beers you might find outside Washington, while Manny's Pale Ale by Georgetown Brewing and Mac and Jack's African Amber are local staples. "Most people outside Washington are unaware that we brew so much good beer," says Jones. "With very few exceptions, we don't share it."
Credit: Hyoung Chang/ The Denver Post / Getty Images
Super Bowl Beer: Hilliard's 12th Can and Dick's Brewing 12th Man Pale Ale were made in honor of Seattle's notoriously loud Seahawks fans. Foggy Noggin Brewery's 12th Man IPA was briefly made with Skittles to honor running back Marshawn Lynch, who eats the candy before every game. Thanks to legal issues, the extremely limited batch beer is now known as the Cease and Desist IPA.