The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Beer Wars: The newest piece of the Cy-Hawk rivalry

Iowa and Iowa State have a fierce rivalry on and off the field. In the age of NIL, beer is adding even more fuel to the fire.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa fans play beer pong in Iowa City before a football game between No. 5 Iowa and Kent State on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.

1894 was a significant year for sports in Iowa. It marked the beginning of the Cy-Hawk game, the annual football contest between Iowa and Iowa State that gives either team’s fanbase bragging rights for 365 days.

The rivalry was halted after 1934 because Iowa’s head football coach Ossie Solem did not return calls to reschedule it. The two teams did not play again until 1977 when a new trophy was introduced by former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray.

Since then, the series has been defined by low-scoring games and winning streaks. Games that have defined this rivalry’s tradition include: The close 9-6 loss vs Iowa State in 2012, the Hawkeyes winning 15 straight from 1983-1997, and the thrilling Iowa overtime win in 2017.

The two archrivals have since played every year besides 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Iowa leading the all-time series, 46-23.

But in 2023, a new piece was introduced that has amped the rivalry up even more.

A new era

 For over a decade, college athletes have been fighting to make a profit off of their name.

This led to numerous conflicts and controversies, such as the discontinuation of the famous NCAA Football video game series, and the court case O’Bannon v. NCAA.

In 2021, this fight turned into a reality when the Supreme Court passed a law that paved the way for college athletes to be compensated and the new era of NIL was born.

New collectives introduced

In 2022, Brad Heinrichs founded the Swarm collective, which was designed to provide Iowa student-athletes with an opportunity to earn compensation and serve their local communities.

Heinrichs is a 1997 graduate of the University of Iowa and currently serves as the CEO of Foster & Foster Consulting Actuaries, Inc., in Fort Myers, Florida.

The Swarm has grown considerably, with 1,300 contributors within five months of the collective’s introduction.

Swarm has helped the Hawkeye football team land Cade McNamara and Erick All, both highly sought-after transfers from Michigan.

In Ames, Iowa, the We Will Collective was established in 2022 with a mission to help Iowa State athletes grow their character and give back to charities. The We Will Collective is led by executive director Brent Blum, a 2007 Iowa State graduate who currently works with the Cyclone Radio and TV Networks.

Throughout the year, the We Will Collective organizes special member events that include meet and greets with Iowa State players and coaches.

The Beer

 With NIL beginning to take center stage, Iowa and Iowa State realized that they needed to make something happen in order to compete with the bigger brand schools.

For years, the one thing that has brought Cyclone and Hawkeye fans together has been beer. It’s present at every Hawkeye and Cyclone tailgate, and it always seems to get a conversation growing.

However, with the fiasco surrounding Anheuser-Busch, Heinrichs saw an opportunity for the Swarm collective. Swarm partnered with Exile Brewing Company in Des Moines, Iowa, to create Swarm Golden Ale.

Each sale of the new beer generates 20 percent of sales toward the collective. The Swarm netted over 30k in revenue in June, despite the beer not being available until the latter part of the month.

Heinrichs and Exile Brewing Company announced that the drink would be sold inside Kinnick Stadium this fall, thrilling the Hawkeye faithful.

With the early success of Swarm Golden Ale, the We Will Collective responded by introducing its own beer, Ames Lager.

Ames Lager will be manufactured by West O Beer in Milford, Iowa. Blum hopes that the beer will be available for purchase in time for the annual RAGBRAI event.

Blum said the two sides are still trying to figure out a revenue agreement. He added that the collective will receive a few dollars per case, with hopes that it will be available in stores by the time football season rolls around.

Ames Lager will be the fourth beer to be sold as part of an NIL collective, joining Iowa, Boise State, and Cincinnati.

Social Media Reaction

Iowa and Iowa State fans have always fought on social media, especially during each edition of the Cy-Hawk series, making a case that their team is the best in the state.

With NIL taking over college athletics, the conversation has been dominated by the beer war brewing between the two collectives, with fans taste-testing the beers and campaigning for their school’s beer.

On July 11, Iowa State University announced its collaboration with Backpocket Brewing to launch Clone Fest, the first officially licensed craft beer of the Cyclones. All proceeds will go toward Iowa State athletics.

This has added more fuel to the fire, creating competition for Ames Lager. Fans have been weighing in the last week talking about the decision.

A War Begins

The introduction of NIL has created a whirlwind of controversy and conversation amongst loyal college sports fans. NIL collectives continue to grow all over the country, with more fan events and special promotions for the most loyal donors.

With both Iowa and Iowa State collectives partnering with local breweries and creating their own beers, it’s no secret that the Cy-Hawk rivalry is in a spot no one could have ever imagined.

For Hawkeye and Cyclone fans, the future of this historic rivalry will rest not only on wins and losses, but also on which collective can sell the most beer.

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.