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Ranking the New NIL Beer Can Designs

More offseason content? Sure!

Don’t tell our friends from out east, but it appears that some copy cats have popped up in the NIL beer space. What a world we live in. With a handful of these NIL collective and brewery partnerships being announced, and I really wanted to do some kind of ranking. Unfortunately I cannot sample all of these, unless some readers from the other schools would like to send me some for free (comment below). However, I feel comfortable saying we have enough data to make a comprehensive ranking of something almost as important, the can design. Nothing elevates a good beer to a great beer more than an inviting can. So with that said, let’s go for it. My rankings are subjective, but what I’m looking for is aesthetic appeal and if I know what I’m getting.

1. Ames Lager (Iowa State)

As if there was any doubt about where we have to start the list. There is no doubt about what school Ames Lager supports, or what you’re buying when you see the can. This is one of those cases where less is more, and since I know a little bit about West-O, I can give bonus points for the fact that this design also fits into their product line as a whole.

2. Sand Storm Game Day Lager (South Carolina)

This can is just beautiful, I have to say. It looks a little intimidating with the steel elements, like you have to be tough enough to drink this. The name fits with South Carolina playing “Sandstorm” at the stadium. They even sneak in a towel at the bottom. Very well done. I would 100% notice this in the beer aisle, and the name tells me exactly what it’s for.

3. Country Roads Lager (West Virginia)

Maybe I’m a bit biased in my love for West Virginia, but I have to admit this is pretty great. Country Roads is iconic and the perfect template for a name. The brewery incorporated fits with the Mountaineer theme. It’s very inviting. 8/10.

4. Cincy Light (Cincinnati)

We’ve got to give the Bearcats some credit here since they were first to the market in this space and it’s tough to nail it right away. There is no doubt about what I’m purchasing when I see this can. The school colors tied in are quite nice, as well as the font that fits the school logos. This is a very solid offering.

5. Hoosier Gameday Lager (Indiana)

This can really does pop. The candy stripes are an obvious homage to the basketball warmup pants, and when you’re Indiana you want the focus on basketball as much as possible. You do have to lean in a little bit to get a better understanding of what the beer actually is, so I have to knock it just a bit there. But overall this is a very solid offering.

6. Working for Gary Barta’s legal defense team

7. Swarm Ale (Iowa)

Just look at this thing. It’s giving me “energy drink that was discontinued in 2010” vibes. The can tells me absolutely nothing. The name is as bland as possible. If I didn’t have any context and I had to guess what school this supports I’d probably start with as many with an eagle mascot as possible, then Georgia Tech, before I even considered Iowa. And since I can bring some local knowledge here, it looks nothing like the rest of Exile’s product line. 1/10. Boring.