Before this nation's pioneers headed west for the California Gold Rush, gold was discovered right here in North Carolina. It's the reason UNCC's athletic teams are also known as the 49ers, even if everyone associates that name with San Francisco.
The Carolina Panthers first visited that city in1995, when they were originally in the NFC West before they moved to the more geographically-appropriate NFC South after the realignment in 2002. This Sunday, they will return to San Francisco to play a team that was once one of the franchise's biggest rivals.
Old Neighborhood Oatmeal Porter - Mother Earth Brewing
Stephen Hill and his son-in-law Trent Mooring, along with head brewer Josh Brewer (yes, that is his real name) founded Mother Earth Brewing in the small town of Kinston, NC in 2009. Stephen and Josh both grew up there, and they fully believe their brewery can help revitalize the town. They are certainly doing their part: the brewery and taproom is one of the most beautiful in the state, and it is the first to receive LEED Gold Certification.
It is worth a visit to Kinston to check out the brewery, but if you can't you can find Mother Earth's beers outside of Kinston in better bottle shops and many grocery stores.
Old Neighborhood Oatmeal Porter is Mother Earth's fall seasonal. As the name would imply, oatmeal is used in this beer to impart a smooth and creamy quality that works well with its milk chocolate and coffee notes.
How it relates to the game
In their first year, Kerry Collins and the Carolina Panthers upset the defending Super Bowl champion 49ers to the tune of 13-7. Many more heated battles would ensue between these divisional rivals until 2002, when the Panthers moved to the NFC South. The two teams have met only three times since then, however, with the Panthers winning all of those games.
The two teams are exceptionally evenly matched and play a similar game, with punishing running backs and quarterbacks who threaten just as much on the ground as in the air. Don't assume any of those players will have huge days, though, as both teams have excellent defenses. Ron Rivera and Jim Harbaugh played together as Bears. Interestingly enough, Harbaugh's last year as a player in the NFL was spent on the abysmally bad 1-15 Carolina Panthers squad, though he never played.
It's hard to say the two teams are still rivals considering how infrequently they play, but they do have a storied history after playing so many games in the old neighborhood. This will be the Panthers' first visit back to Candlestick since 2004 -- let's hope they can win another game there and improve to 6-3.
Price Point / Availability
You can find Old Neighborhood Oatmeal Porter at most craft beer stores and some grocery stores across North Carolina (check out their Brewfinder). It usually retails for $9.99 a six-pack.
Looking to drink craft beer at the game? Here's a list of craft beers in Bank of America Stadium.