The college football season starts Thursday, quenching the fans' collective 234-day thirst for meaningful contests. Accompanying the metaphorical quenching is literal satiation provided by craft breweries located in or near the hometowns of the teams in the opening AP Top 25 poll.
Opening AP Top 25: Football/Craft Beer Pairings
25. Tennessee: SawWorks Brewing Company, Knoxville
The 5-year-old brewery was born as Marble City Brewing Company but was renamed in 2012, giving homage to the structure (The Wallace Saw Works Building) in which it operates. It is best known for a beer with a moniker that is as Tennessee as it gets: Rocky Hop IPA.
24. Missouri: Flat Branch Pub and Brewing, Columbia
Touted as Columbia's first craft brewery, Flat Branch was founded in 1994. Flat Branch brews a number of interesting beers (Oil Change Oatmeal Stout, Watermelon Ale), but its Green Chili Beer grabs the top spot. Flat Branch encourages you to try it with tomato juice for a "liquid enchilada."
23. Boise State: Payette Brewing Company, Boise
Founder Mike Francis followed the path of many a craft beer pioneer: He eschewed his day job to join the movement. It's worked out pretty well for the former industrial engineer, as Payette will expand further in 2016, opening a second facility near downtown Boise. If you're in the area, be on the lookout for its Slaughter House India Red Ale, Payette's fall seasonal that packs the most IBUs (a measure of a beer's hoppiness) and highest ABV of all its current brews.
22. Arizona, Barrio Brewing Company, Tucson
It was voted Tucson's "Best Hidden Watering Hole" in 2013 by Tucson Weekly. The staff also dubbed the brewery as one of the best places to watch the Wildcats without buying a ticket. While those distinctions are two years old, Barrio has still maintained its popularity without being in the spotlight. Located right next to train tracks, you can grab a pint for $3.25 any time the guard rails are down.
21. Stanford: Freewheel Brewing Company, Redwood City
Four miles from campus, Freewheel brews in a decidedly British style. Freewheel specializes in cask conditioned ales, a very old school style of brewing that contains live yeast and allows natural CO2 to develop in the brew without injecting any gas. The brewery was commissioned from the United Kingdom and welded in the states by Vincent "Big V" Johnson, a U.K. native. Freewheel appreciated his work so much that it has named a stable brew between him: "Big V" Amber.
20. Wisconsin: New Glarus Brewing, New Glarus
There are a handful of breweries in or closer to Madison than New Glarus, but none of them has the fanfare of New Glarus’ Spotted Cow. It's illegal to sell any New Glarus beers outside of the state, but that hasn't stopped some from trying. And while Spotted Cow is undoubtedly the brewery's most famous beer, New Glarus still churns out a wide variety of award-winning beers. You've got to get to Wisconsin to try it, though. It's well worth the trip.
19. Oklahoma: 405 Brewing Company, Norman
Named for Norman's area code, 405 Brewing Company was founded by two guys who grew up in the home of the Sooners. Trae Carson and Jonathan Stapleton have planned to open their own brewery since 2007 and officially opened the facility's doors in 2015. Their most interesting beer might be their Grapefruit Sour, which combines Apollo hops with juice from five cases on grapefruits in each batch.
18. Arkansas: Fossil Cove Brewing Company, Fayetteville
Founded in 2012, Fossil Cove is well known throughout Arkansas for stellar beer and interesting can art. As one might guess from the brewery's name, the guys from Fossil have adopted a dinosaur theme for the names and art on some of their beers. Paleo Pale Ale and T-Rex Tripel lead the charge in that department.
17. Ole Miss: Oxford Brewing Company, Oxford
Rarely do breweries that are named with such simplicity overstep their bounds in the craft beer community. Oxford Brewing Company is the epitome of the small, simple and steady craft brewer. With only two beers (Sorority Blonde and MPA No. 8) on the market, Oxford isn't trying to outgun its competitors in terms of adventurousness. It keeps it simple, which seems to be working.
16. Georgia Tech: SweetWater Brewing Company, Atlanta
Get this: SweetWater was founded by a couple college roommates who found that their passion for beer outweighed whatever they happened to be studying at the time. While that might seem to be the story of approximately 130 percent of all craft brewers, SweetWater has not conformed to the already non-conformist craft beer revolution. In short, it is unique. A prime example is the tagline Georgia Brown, SweetWater's English Brown Ale: "Smoother than a Bill Clinton Apology."
15. Arizona State: Papago Brewing Company, Scottsdale
The 14-year-old brewery sits approximately five miles away from the Arizona State campus. And while it doesn't brew a ton of beer, it has a handful of staples that make it a worthy stop on a road trip to see the Sun Devils. Among those staples are the Belgian strong ale Oude Zuipers (translated from Flemish as "old drunk"), the coconut coffee stout Coconut Joe and the brewery's most popular beer, Orange Blossom Ale.
14. LSU: Tin Roof Brewing Company, Baton Rouge
Charles Caldwell and William McGehee grew up together, but their love for craft beer came about differently. Caldwell fell in love with it while working on a Colorado ranch while McGehee's infatuation began after a summer in Europe. They left jobs as a banker and lawyer to found Tin Roof. They even brew a beer geared for Saturday tailgating -- Gameday IPA, a session ale with only 4.3 percent ABV and is probably tastier than what's in that 30-pack you lugged to Dave's tailgate last week.
13. UCLA: El Segundo Brewery, El Segundo
El Segundo is about 15 miles south of UCLA's campus. Its founder, Rob Croxall, was working in aerospace finance before he founded his brewery. We think that takes the top spot in our "jobs people left to become professional brewers" list, but Croxall has made the transition look seamless. El Segundo's most interesting beer might be its Standard Crude American Imperial Stout, brewed in the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Take that, Putin.
12. Clemson: Thomas Creek Brewery, Greenville
Thomas Creek Brewery is a full 30 miles from Clemson's campus, but that's still close enough for Tiger fans to claim it as an establishment all their own. Brewers of the Castaway Chocolate Orange IPA, a 100 IBU beer, Thomas Creek is not afraid of bitterness. Its Up The Creek Extreme IPA has 143 IBUs but is still probably less bitter than the average Tiger fan after the annual Clemson Collapse. Sorry.
11. Notre Dame: Bare Hands Brewery, Granger
Ten miles northeast of South Bend, Bare Hands Brewery claims to "specialize in over-the-top IPAs." It is not lying. Of its 13 listed beers, nine are some sort of pale ale. Four of those pale ales have at least 9 percent ABV, and five are dubbed some sort of double IPA. We believe you, Bare Hands. We believe you.
10. Florida State: Proof Brewing Company, Tallahassee
Proof Brewing Company is Tallahassee's first production brewery, believe it or not, and was founded just more than a year ago. It has four core beers, two of which have garnered Florida Best Beer Championship honors. Eightfive-O, an American pale ale, and Guru IPA both won gold medals in 2013, before the brewery opened. We're most interested in Assassin Caterpillar, though, if only because of its name.
9. Georgia: Terrapin Beer Company, Athens
As you'd expect, Terrapin Beer Company's mascot is a turtle, and he or she makes an appearance on almost every label that Terrapin produces. Terrapin has produced an absolute ton of different beers, ranging from its Liquid Lunch, a peanut butter and jelly porter to Tangerine Creamsicle, an IPA brewed in combination with the world renowned Green Flash Brewing Company of San Diego.
8. USC: Eagle Rock Brewery, Los Angeles
Eagle Rock Brewery, founded in 2009, was the first microbrewery to open in Los Angeles. Even more distinctive, though, might be the Dungeons and Dragons night that Eagle Rock hosts on the first and third Thursday of each month. On tap are four year-round beers and varying seasonal selections. Of most importance, though, is Eagle Rock's Solidarity Black Mild Ale, a 3.8 percent ABV ale that won a silver medal in the 2014 Los Angeles International Beer Competition.
7. Oregon: Ninkasi Brewing Company,Eugene
Right in the heart of craft beer revolution country, Ninkasi is a top-tier mainstay of said movement. Ninkasi is distributed as far east as Colorado -- yet it is a beautiful excuse to visit Eugene. Pair Oregon Duck football with Ninkasi’s Tricerahops Double IPA and you probably won't ever want to leave.
6. Auburn: Red Clay Brewing Company, Opelika
Auburn fans are an easy six-mile jaunt away from the Red Clay Brewing Company in Opelika. Named for the soil so readily associated with the south, Red Clay is a very young brewery with promise. All of Red Clay's beers are named with care: Big Swamp Stout is named after the Muskogee translation of Opelika, and Hop Jubilee is a reference to parties, or jubilees, attended by founders Kerry McGinnis, Stephen Harle and John Corbin near the Mobile Bay shore.
5. Michigan State: Midtown Brewing Company, Lansing
Midtown Brewing Company epitomizes the friendliness and cohesiveness of the craft beer industry. While the Lansing staple has its own beer on tap, Midtown also puts other Michigan breweries beers on the rail. The people at Midtown are prideful about their own beer, Michigan beer and beer in general. And they’ve got perhaps the most October-ish beer in America on tap -- a pumpkin cream ale.
4. Baylor: Bare Arms Brewery, Waco
Waco's first brewpub, Bare Arms Brewery (no relation to South Bend/Granger's Bare Hands Brewery, we think) is about as new as could be. In late July, Bare Arms announced via Facebook that fans could finally find its beers around Waco. In August, another post proclaimed that Bare Arms was making its first delivery for a local pub's eighth anniversary. Unlike Baylor QB Seth Russell, Bare Arms doesn't have previous record-setters to live up to. But keep an eye on this place regardless.
3. Alabama: Druid City Brewing Company, Tuscaloosa
Druid City Brewing Company is Tuscaloosa's first craft brewery. Opened in 2012, Druid City has six full-time beers, up from the two it had on tap when it first opened. Of note is the Downtown North Porter, a "malt-bomb" of a porter with chocolate and vanilla notes.
2. TCU: Chimera Brewing Company, Fort Worth
Chimeria Brewing Company is a beer and pizza establishment with a love of unicorns, according to its website. Mythical creature romance aside, Chimera was called Zio Carlo Magnolia Brew Pub up until March 2015. The name change came in part due to owners desire to emphasize that their company was a brewery at its core. Chimera has kicked up its barrel-aging program as well, putting just about any kind of beer you can imagine in old whiskey, wine and spirit barrels.
1. Ohio State: Land-Grant Brewing Company, Columbus
Its name a reference to its owners' alma mater, Ohio State, Land-Grant Brewing Company has plenty of sports references in names of its beers. Stiff Arm IPA and Greenskeeper Session IPA are regulars on Land Grant's taps, and its limited release Gold Pants Lager refers to the gold pants-shaped pin that Buckeye football players receive if they beat Michigan. Land-Grant is still very young, so look out for more Buckeye beers in the future. An Urban wheat ale, perhaps?
-- Follow Eric Clark on Twitter @_ericlark.