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From Texas to North Carolina, Kentucky to Florida, Southerners take their football seriously – and Memphians are no exception! But before we enter the stadium to cheer on our team, we celebrate a time-honored tradition that’s been elevated to an art form. Tailgating is the perfect way to gather with friends and family (and occasionally, with foes) to eat, drink, and talk a little trash about the other team. Whether you’re setting your spread on Tiger Lane or heading for stadiums further afield, you won’t want to miss out on sharing a few local favorites with your tailgating crew. We’ve rounded up a few Memphis must-haves to make your next tailgate something extra special.

If you have most of your spread already covered, use these links to jump to local recommendations to round out your menu, plus serving suggestions and tips for ordering in advance to feed a crowd!

Memphis Tailgating Must-Haves: Local Beer, BBQ & More

Local Beer

When it comes to craft brews, we are spoiled for choice in Memphis. Luckily, your favorites are available in kegs, cases, or growlers — pick the right size for your game day crowd.

Wiseacre Brewing Company has such a great selection, it may be hard to choose. Owner Kellan Bartosch is here to help: “If ancient Greece had tailgating, Tiny Bomb Pilsner would’ve been designed on Mt. Olympus. It’s 4.5% and light-bodied (tiny), which is great for extended pre-gaming, but it also has a ton of flavor (bomb) so it can stand up to grilled meats, spicy dips, or whatever your crazy uncle shows up with.” Or try the Ananda IPA for plenty of citrus hop notes while still finishing crisply to keep your palate ready for more.

Hotdogs and case of Tiny Bomb from Wiseacre Brewing Co., Memphis tailgating must-haves

Wiseacre Brewing Company‘s Tiny Bomb makes an awesome pairing for hotdogs. Try hotdogs from Memphis’ own King Cotton to add a little ‘WOW’ factor to your tailgating cookout. Image: Wiseacre Brewing Company

Check out Hampline Brewing Company’s Beers on Tap to see what’s currently available, and place your order for kegs and cases a week in advance. You may also call ahead a week or two to find out what’s brewing, and get a recommendation for the perfect tailgating party. For a keg from Ghost River Brewing Company, order online at least a week in advance. Ghost River offers five tailgate-worthy brews year-round, but be sure to see what seasonal and limited release beers are available – their fall-inspired beers are ideal for a football game.

If your football crew wants a malty, roasty amber ale, pick up Memphis Made Brewing Company’s Fireside, or The Junt for cream ale fans. Order online for cans of Crosstown Brewing Company’s refreshing lagers, ales, and stouts – they’ve even got a new line of hard seltzers.

Grind City Brewing Company recently released its line of honey seltzers — perfect for those warm Saturday games before the weather changes. And University of Memphis fans will love Grind City’s Tiger Tail, the official craft beer of the Memphis Tigers. High Cotton Brewing Company and Meddlesome Brewing Company round out the options in Memphis, and both offer excellent craft beers for pre-game enjoyment.

Cases and six-packs of most local beers can be found in grocery and liquor stores all across Memphis.

SB TIP: It takes about 10-12 minutes to chill your beers in a cooler with ice. Add water, and you can get your beverages cold in four to six minutes.

RELATED: Your SEC All-City Guide: Where to Eat, Sleep & Tailgate

Memphis BBQ

Barbecue is high on any list of tailgating must-haves, and there is no shortage of this mouth-watering staple in Memphis. The Bar-B-Q Shop offers several easy ways to get the right amount of succulent pulled pork, beef, ribs, and brisket to suit your needs, plus plenty of tasty sides. Hog Wild BBQ will work with you to create the perfect tailgating meal – and who needs stadium nachos when you can treat your guests to Hog Wild’s famously fresh and delicious barbecue nachos? Corky’s offers a range of yummy and versatile Party Paks, available for pick-up and delivery through online ordering, and Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous is a MUST for charbroiled ribs. You’ll also find great pre-order options at Central BBQ, Germantown Commissary, Interstate Barbeque, and Leonard’s Pit Barbeque.

SB TIPS: When planning your menu, keep in mind that one serving of barbecue is one-fourth to one half-pound of pulled pork or beef, depending on how many sides you plan to serve. And don’t forget to ask for extra sauce!

If grilling is an essential part of your tailgate traditions, Humphrey’s is the way to go for a lineup of best-quality grill fare. They offer a selection of prime cuts of beef, freshly ground beef for burger fans, and seafood. You can pick up pre-made sides and desserts in-store, too — they’re located right next door to their sister restaurant, the famed Folk’s Folly steakhouse.

Six-pack from The Bar-B-Q Shop

Got a small group? The Bar-B-Q Shop’s Six-Pack offers enough meat for six sandwiches, including buns, sauce, and slaw. Pump it up by adding beans for a Family Pack, or go whole hog with a Bulk Ten – enough barbecue, sauce, buns, beans, and slaw for 10 (and it includes plates, napkins, and forks). All packs are beef or pork only – no mixing – so plan accordingly. Image: The Bar-B-Q Shop

Ribs from The Bar-B-Q Shop, a Memphis tailgating must-have

The Bar-B-Q Shop offers bulk meat, beef brisket, and slabs of ribs. Order quarts or pints of beans, slaw, and potato salad to create your own buffet! Image: Mark Voitik, The Bar-B-Q Shop

Bottle of Killa Wet Sauce from Hog Wild BBQ

Orders from Hog Wild BBQ include their famous mouthwatering Killa Wet Sauce. Image: Hog Wild BBQ

Hog Wild BBQ Nachos in Memphis

In addition to pulled pork and delicious sides, you can order Hog Wild’s famous barbecue nachos. Yum! Image: Hog Wild BBQ

Finger Food Favorites

Arbo’s Cheese Dip has taken Memphis by storm. The creamy-with-a-kick flavor works in diverse ways for tailgating, says owner Andrew Arbogast. Chips and cheese dip are of course a stadium standby, but Arbo’s levels-up your veggie tray and adds interest to your hamburger. Andrew also recommends adding it to a big pan of mac-and-cheese along with mozzarella to turn an old standby into something really special.

Arbo's Cheese Dip

Enjoy Arbo’s Cheese Dip straight from the container – no heating necessary – or add it to nachos, burgers, or hotdogs. Visit their website to find an up-to-date list of places to purchase this cheesy masterpiece. Image: Chris Lott

Pimento cheese is so versatile, and Tom’s Tiny Kitchen has the flavors you need to make your tailgate pop. Small sandwiches are a great addition to your tailgate spread, along with creative trays of fresh vegetables and crackers. For quick and easy pimento cheese biscuits that would be right at home in the Grove, heat up take-and-bake buttermilk biscuits from Muddy’s Bake Shop, fill with their pimento cheese, and top with a dollop of Dodson’s Farm pepper jelly.

SB TIP: The Cooper-Young Farmer’s Market is open year-round, so you can pick up local offerings, along with fresh, seasonal produce for serving!

Tom’s Tiny Kitchen pimento cheese with veggies, a Memphis tailgating must-have

Tom’s Tiny Kitchen pimento cheeses are perfect with veggies. Check out their website for a list of local retailers. Image: Amy Crilly

RELATED: 4 New Memphis Restaurants To Check Out (Updated August 2021)

Sweet Tailgate Treats

Muddy’s Bake Shop owner Kat Gordon offers a couple of recommendations for your pre-game spread. Easy to serve and eat, mini-cupcakes are available in a “party mix” of popular flavors, so you’re sure to have something for everyone. “And is there anything more old school than banana pudding?” asks Kat. “We make our own vanilla bean wafers from scratch, and the pudding is light and creamy, topped with homemade whipped cream. It comes ready to serve in a large container.” All Muddy’s items are available for walk-in orders, but you risk your favorite goodies running out. To reserve them for the weekend, order online a few days ahead of time, or call to place an order up to a few weeks in advance.

Mini-cupcakes from Muddy's Bake Shop

Easy to transport to the stadium, mini-cupcakes are bite-sized treats that come in an assortment of Muddy’s most popular flavors. Image: Ashleigh Peak

Banana pudding from Muddy's Bake Shop, a Memphis tailgating must-have

Banana pudding is a scrumptious way to end your pre-game meal! Image: Ashleigh Peak

Frost Bake Shop offers a delicious selection of cupcakes, mini-cupcakes, and cookies. For beautifully decorated (and delectable) sugar cookies with a fun football theme, try The Whimsy Cookie Company. Sweet Lala’s Bakery offers delightfully customized cookies, delish cookies by the dozen, cupcake packs, and more.

Football Themed Cookies on a Tray

Pick up perfectly on-theme cookie orders to support your team. Image: The Whimsy Cookie Company

Brunch Picks for Early Games

If you are planning a tailgate event for an early-in-the-day kickoff, you can’t do better than biscuit sandwiches. Backlot Sandwich Shop has a tempting array of hearty handhelds that will see you through the festivities. You can currently order from the menu while owner and chef Derk Meitzler works on a catering menu; be sure to place your orders 36 hours in advance.

Bryant’s is a favorite local hangout for delicious breakfasts, but did you know they cater? Order a customized pan of fresh, fluffy biscuits with your choice of fillings – there’s no limit to the combination or number of biscuits. Or go all-out on their self-serve Breakfast Bar, which includes scrambled eggs, meats, grits, biscuits, and gravy — all packed in aluminum pans for easy set-up.

Pair your brunch offerings with a Bloody Mary made with Old Dominick Memphis Vodka and Sauced in the South mix. Wiseacre’s Gotta Get Up to Get Down Coffee Milk Stout is also a great option for early kick-off brunch tailgates.

Biscuits from Bryant's, a Memphis tailgating must-have

Bryant’s biscuits are available by the pan, or stuffed with your favorite breakfast fixins! Image: Richard Lucchesi

Huling Station Straight Bourbon from Old Dominick

Old Dominick Memphis Vodka upgrades your Bloody Mary to something truly special. Their Huling Station Straight Bourbon is the perfect basis for a classic Old-Fashioned or Whiskey Sour, or pair it with a warm and flavorful Autumn Spiced simple syrup from Cane & Herb. Image: Old Dominick

Local Spirits + Cocktail Recipes

University of Memphis Tiger fans are in for another treat: Old Dominick Distillery released a limited-edition bourbon to honor the home team just in time for football season. “Going into our third year as an official partner of the Memphis Tigers, we knew we wanted to do something special. We bottled two batches of our Huling Station Straight Bourbon Whiskey especially for this occasion and dressed up the labels to match the Tigers’ iconic uniforms,” says Alex Castle, Master Distiller and Senior Vice President of Old Dominick Distillery.

Memphis Toddy cocktail from Old Dominick Distillery

The Memphis Toddy blends Old Dominick’s signature high-rye bourbon with natural ingredients. It’s the perfect sipper to ward off the chill before an evening game later in autumn. Image: Old Dominick Distillery

To up your cocktail game, try B.R. Distilling Company’s Blue Note Bourbon. From a new riff on a classic Manhattan to a refreshing Blue Note Breeze, Memphis’ own Blue Note Bourbon takes tailgating seriously. Do you prefer a rye-based libation? Riverset Rye pairs perfectly with fall-inspired flavors.

Manhattan in the Delta cocktail from B.R. Distilling Company

The “Manhattan in the Delta” offers a refreshing twist on a classic: 2 parts Blue Note Juke Joint, 0.5-part sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters, and a Luxardo cherry for garnish. In a mixing glass filled with ice, add Blue Note, vermouth, and bitters. Stir briskly until well-chilled. In a rocks glass, add fresh ice and strain into your glass. Image: B.R. Distilling Company

Blue Note Bourbon Cocktail

To wow your tailgating crowd, mix up a Blue Note Breeze: 1.5 parts Blue Note Juke Joint, 0.75 parts lemon juice, 0.50 parts lime juice, and 2 parts seltzer. Garnish with a cherry and orange wedge pennant. Build in a chilled rocks glass. Stir and add ice. Image: B.R. Distilling Company

We know we’ve barely scratched the surface of all the great Memphis tailgating must-haves, but this list should get you started! Happy tailgating!


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