CENTRALIA — As the Seattle Seahawks prepare for Super Bowl XLVIII, a Centralia-based microbrewery is scoring big with a beer made just for fans.
Dick's Brewing Co. officially released 12 Man Pale Ale in December. Packaged in 12-ounce cans, the beer has quickly become a top seller. The brewery has shipped more than 6,000 cans and 300 kegs so far in January.
"We knew it would be popular," said owner Julie Young-Pendleton, noting that customers have traveled from as far as Wenatchee to buy the new beer.
One customer, Russ Toups, drove more than 120 miles last Saturday from Port Hadlock to buy three cases for his gas station.
"Everybody's asking for it," said Toups, lifting his stack of cans. "Seahawks fever is taking over."
12 Man Pale Ale is a departure for Dick's, which specializes in craft brews such as IPAs, porters and imperial stouts. Although intended to lure noncraft beer drinkers, 12 Man Pale Ale was created with a craft brewer's spirit. It has a relatively low alcohol content of 4.5 percent.
"I call it the gateway beer for the domestic beer drinker," said Dick's brewmaster Dave Pendleton, noting that the recipe stems from a team effort. "It's still hands on. It's a lot of hard work that goes into that glass."
12 Man Pale Ale has been two years in the making, and much of the process has involved legal red tape. This is notably reflected in the name 12 Man, as opposed to 12th Man, which is a trademarked phrase owned by Texas A&M University.
Former NFL kicker Norm Johnson, who played for the Seahawks from 1982 to 1990, is a business partner in 12 Brands LLC. Dick's was a good fit for 12 Man Pale Ale because of the brewery's extra capacity to take on a new product, Johnson said.
The intention was to take the beer beyond novelty status, he said, and create a "fan's beer" that appeals to all Seattle sports fans.
The beer was featured on tap at CenturyLink Field during the preseason, but was yanked because of the NFL's legal agreement with Budweiser. The beer will be available all year at major grocers in the state, and Johnson hopes to see 12 Man Pale Ale next season at Seahawks home games.
Johnson knows a thing or two about passionate football fans. He played 18 seasons in the NFL, including a trip to Super Bowl XXX with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Seattle and Pittsburgh both have rabid local followings, said Johnson, "but I would take the Seahawks fans over the Steelers fans any day."