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A successful tailgate only takes a few steps

Beer, meat and good crew are key to tailgate victory.

Denver Broncos v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

With the 2022 NFL preseason underway, starting off with the Hall of Fame game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders, that means one other special thing is back on the menu: tailgating.

Tailgating is one of the highlights of an NFL fan’s season, regardless if the team is good or bad. Tailgating is always going to be a good time with your friends, family and other fans. Heck, sometimes it’s even fun with opposing fans to talk smack prior to, and after, the game. The big thing about tailgating is everyone has something different and their own little ritual they do.

Here are some of the essentials, in my opinion, for a successful tailgate.

Have a good crew

The most important thing for a successful tailgate is to have yourself a good crew. Even if you’re not all showing up together, just making sure you’re at your spot where you make the magic happen. You always have the “grill” person, the “drinks” person, the “random weird finger food that you’re not really sure about but you try it out of respect for the effort they put into it” person. Everyone has a role they play to make the tailgate successful.

Have the beer

Not everyone is a beer person, I get it. I used to not be a beer person too, but eventually I became one. You always need a good beer for the group, regardless if there are people who don’t drink it in your crew. You do have to choose the right beer for the occasion though. In Florida, you should probably go for more of the lighter kind of beers so you don’t feel weighed down in the 95 degree/90 percent humidity environment. Something like a nice gose or a clean pilsner are usually what I shoot for. Then when you get into the colder months of the year, you work your way into the porters and stouts. If it’s a night game and I’m feeling frisky I’ll go for the imperial stout or double IPA.

Have the meats

I’m not going to get into any discussions about vegetarian/vegan grilling preferences — my wife is vegan, so if you have the fake meats bring those, too — but man, you really need to be like Arby’s and have the meats. Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with a good hot dog or brat for the tailgate. Those are usually my go-to. If it’s just a regular ol’ glizzy, I go for some just some spicy brown mustard and raw onion and that’s it. If it’s a brat, you know you need those sautéed peppers and caramelized onions with the spicy brown mustard. You need some good chips too, but for me personally since I’m trying to skip on the carbs, I go for the pork rinds. I said bring the meats, that’s technically meat, right?

Have a good time

The most important thing, above all else, is to have fun. It doesn’t matter if the team is good or bad or if you win or lose, the tailgate always wins. As we like to say here in Jacksonville, Duval tailgates are undefeated.

There’s plenty of things you can do to make sure it’s always fun. The things our crew usually roll with are some good game day hype up music, maybe some corn hole or just hanging out and vibing with the people you see every season at your spot.