Man handing a beer to a customer at a bar.


Getting fans excited about game day and into your establishment is the first part of winning.

The Best Way to Win on Game Day in Your Restaurant

Hint: Keep the beer flowing.

Fans and students in college towns across the country can’t wait for Saturdays during football season. College students and fans flock to bars and restaurants to root for their team and have a good time, leaving restaurants with an opportunity to capitalize on the spike in customers. 

To see how these customers spent their money and time at various establishments, restaurant management platform Upserve analyzed millions of transactions from thousands of restaurants across the U.S. Using sales data from restaurants and bars in college towns from August through December 2017, Upserve was able to see how fans were spending their money and celebrating during game day throughout the country.

A winning gameplan for game day

Getting fans excited about game day and into your establishment is the first part of winning. For restaurants and bars trying out specials or promotions for the first time, Upserve found some ways to make the most out of the college football season, and capitalize on guests who are looking to watch the game and sip on a cold beer.  

Host a viewing party: Put the TVs in your establishment to good use by playing games live on game day. To keep diners and guests engaged throughout the game, create different specials for each quarter or menu items available at halftime. The goal is to keep your guests interested in the game, but more importantly—your food.

No TV? No problem. If you’re unable to air the game in your establishment, capitalize on the pre- and post-game opportunities. Get fans ready for kickoff with drink and food specials. Keep the game day theme going with specials for groups or for those wearing team colors and jerseys. Celebrate your team’s victory by offering specials, like a free appetizer to guests who show their ticket stubs from the game.

Beer is the MVP. Breaking out the wine list won’t win you many points on game day. Make sure bartenders and servers are informed and ready to describe every brew on the beer list (and don’t forget to fully stock the bar). And while your guests are sipping on their pints, capitalize on the opportunity to sell appetizers and small plates they can snack on. Creating a special menu that pairs with beers on draught will help upsell appetizers along with the brews.

Spread the news. Attract a crowd on game day by promoting specials over social media and in the restaurant leading up to the game. Give fans a sneak peek of game day special and festivities they can expect to find. Using team specific hashtags for your home team will also spark interest. Feel free to get in touch with the colleges so they know where to send fans, students, and alumni to celebrate on game day.  

The cost of a pint

When it comes to the cost of a pint, Upserve found prices only slightly vary by football conference. The average pint rang in around $4.94, with the Big 10 charging the most, with an average of $5.17, and the SEC charging the least at $4.63, according to the study.

It’s no surprise drinkers who prefer craft beer will pay a slightly higher price than customers who prefer drinking macro counterparts.

The best brews to have on tap during football season by football conference

Upserve found that fans have a variety of tastes when it comes to the beers they drink during college football games. The study found football fans drink a variety of different beers while rooting on their favorite team. Across seven different conferences, the study revealed the top-selling beers from 32 different college teams.

College football fans in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and Big 10 have a particular taste for Bud Light, which was the top-selling beer in terms of quantity more than any other conference in the study.

Across the country, Bud Light pops up on the top five highest grossing beers for nearly 40 percent of teams analyzed in the study. It also found the East Coast prefers lagers with Pabst Blue Ribbon topping out as a best-seller in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Top-selling beers by conference


University of Tennessee: Bud Light

University of Georgia: Guinness

Texas A&M University: Cycle Brewing Rare DOS

University of Florida: Corona Light

University of Missouri: Saranac Brewery IPA

University of Alabama: Guinness

University of Arkansas: Capital Brewing Co. Trail Pale Ale

Big 12 

University of Texas: Bull & Bush Brewery Man Beer

Texas Tech University: Thomas Creek Up the Creek

University of Oklahoma: Union Craft Brewing Company Anthem Golden Ale

Texas Christian University: Coors Lite


University of Washington: Rainer Brewing Company Rainier Beer

University of Colorado: Grey Sail Pour Judgement IPA

University of Oregon: Guinness

University of California, Berkeley: Miller High Life

University of Arizona: Modelo Especial

Arizona State University: Dragoon Brewing Company Dragoon IPA 


Georgia Tech: Saranac Brewery IPA

University of Pittsburgh: Miller Lite

University of Louisville: Pabst Blue Ribbon

Florida State University: 3 Daughters Brewing St. Pete Beach Blonde Ale

American Athletic

Temple University: Allagash Saison

University of Cincinnati: Miller High Life

Big 10

Ohio State University: Rogue 8 Hop IPA

University of Minnesota: Coors Light

University of Michigan: Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted Ale

University of Nebraska: Rogue 8 Hop IPA

University of Wisconsin: Miller Lite

Penn State: Grey Sail Pour Judgement IPA

University of Iowa: Bud Light

FBS Independents

University of Notre Dame: Miller Lite

Brigham Young University: Bud Light

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