The Best And Worst Beer Super Bowl Commercials Of All Time

Football and beer are a match made in heaven. After all, few things in life can top cracking open an ice-cold brewski while watching two teams battle for gridiron glory. And considering U.S. consumers spent an astronomical $1.3 billion on beer and cider leading up to Super Bowl LI in 2017 (via Good Morning America) — a number that's almost certainly risen in the ensuing years? Well, it's clear that belief is hardly unique.

Of course, anyone who's ever watched a Super Bowl understands an innate connection between beer and football exists. In fact, while we can't predict with absolute accuracy how much beer will be consumed during any given Super Bowl, we can safely assume a handful of beer commercials will always air during the big game. Frankly, it's not just death and taxes that are guaranteed in life. Because during each and every Super Bowl Sunday, without fail? Any number of nationally sold breweries will debut at least one commercial.

With who-knows how many beer Super Bowl commercials having aired over the past half-century, there've been some undeniable classics — and some clear-cut clunkers. With that in mind (and the big game right around the corner), we decided to highlight some of those winners and losers and present the best and worst beer Super Bowl commercials of all time.

Best: Bud Bowl I (Budweiser/Bud Light - 1989)

As any football fan knows, the only thing better than one football game is two football games. In fact, whether or not the participants are human (or even alive, for that matter) is irrelevant — more football always equals more fun. Perhaps this explains the popularity of the (formerly) annual Bud Bowl: an animated, ahem, game between Budweiser and Bud Light bottles for, well, Bud-branded-beer supremacy. And while several Bud Bowls were played during the early 1990s (via Mental Floss), we're highlighting the original Bud Bowl from 1989, which aired throughout Super Bowl XXIII.

Now, saying the first Bud Bowl nailed the concept isn't much of a hot take, seeing as Bud Bowl commercials aired each year during the Super Bowl from 1989 to 1995. But revisiting the beloved Super Bowl commercial, we were struck by the extreme attention to detail in these stop-motion animated ads and came away enormously impressed — even more than three decades later.

From the kickers being slightly smaller bottles to cans presented as adoring fans cheering in the stands, the Bud Bowl is a stone-cold classic. We had plenty to choose from, of course, but for our money? You can't top the original.

Worst: Spirit (Pabst Blue Ribbon - 1981)

Now, if you're looking for a slam-dunk reason this 1981 commercial from Pabst Blue Ribbon (which aired during Super Bowl XV, according to Ad Age) is one of the worst in Super Bowl history, we can't really give you one. Because realistically? Our displeasure with this advertisement mainly stems from the fact that, 40 years ago, Pabst Blue Ribbon was considered a viable option for the average U.S. beer drinker.

Goodness gracious, that's a depressing reality to consider. After all, in 2023, there are literally dozens, if not hundreds (or even thousands?), of superior beer options to Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Actually, with four decades of hindsight, the unintentional comedy of the commercial gushing about the "spirit that lives on" in each bottle of PBR is quite amusing. But the fact of the matter is we're not laughing with Pabst in the 21st century — we're laughing at it. Beer aficionados in 1981 may not have batted an eyelash at this commercial, but it's aged as poorly as a can of skunked PBR.

Best: Will Ferrell in a Field (Old Milwaukee - 2013)

Why did Will Ferrell agree to appear in a Super Bowl commercial for Old Milwaukee — a beer brand we consistently (and mistakenly) call "the beast" in reference to the (entirely separate) brand known as Milwaukee's Best? It's a mystery. But the comedic genius clearly knew what he was doing, even if his appearance in this 2013 commercial (that aired during Super Bowl XLVII, according to USA Today) didn't really involve him doing much of anything.

Then again, the simplicity of a stern Ferrell strolling through a field (somewhere in rural Wisconsin, we presume) before cracking open a can of Old Milwaukee is what makes it so fantastic. Well, that, and the completely absurd fact that the commercial ends before Ferrell is able to finish naming the beer being advertised.

In addition, since the commercial only aired live in a single media market, it cost the brewery the stunningly small amount of $1,500 (via Bleacher Report) — a far cry from millions of dollars it costs for a nationwide Super Bowl spot. For that, we'll raise a can in appreciation to Old Milwaukee's marketing savvy and classify this ridiculous beer Super Bowl commercial as one of the best to ever air.

Worst: Ghost Spuds (Bud Light - 2017)

When a company finds itself struggling for new ideas and inspiration, it's fairly commonplace to return to a once-successful well. Yet just because it's a standard marketing practice doesn't mean it's ever a particularly strong choice. Sure, some reboots of once-prominent entities have produced legitimately worthwhile results. But Bud Light's decision to resurrect the rotting carcass of its once-beloved spokesdog Spuds Mackenzie in 2017 during Super Bowl LI (via Ad Age)? That ain't one of them.

Perhaps we'd have enjoyed this one more if we'd been old enough to enjoy the canine's original run during the late 1980s (via Mental Floss). But if you missed Spuds' heyday, well, his 2017 return hardly makes one pine for days gone by. In addition, while we'd never turn down free beer, the idea that someone bringing a case of Bud Light to a party would make them a hero is completely laughable — and not in the way the creators likely intended.

Since the Ghost Spuds commercial was ranked as one of the five worst from that year's game, according to the Washington Post, we're not the only ones turned off by this Super Bowl ad. In other words? Maybe Bud Light (and Spuds' memory) would have been better served by letting sleeping dogs lie.

Best: Welcome to Superior Bowl (Michelob Ultra - 2022)

Whether or not a reference resonates with people is entirely dependent on their relationship with the original entity. So for folks who either never saw "The Big Lebowski" or (perhaps more preposterously) just aren't fans of the Jeff Bridges-starring film? Well, the 2022 Michelob Ultra commercial that evoked that film's memory (when airing during Super Bowl LVI, according to USA Today) may not rank as highly as we feel it does. But since we're apt to praise anything even adjacently related to The Dude, this commercial deserves any and all accolades.

Actually, whether you care for that film or not, anyone can likely admit: The sight of several world-famous athletes fiercely competing at a bowling alley is inherently funny. Perhaps there's just something intrinsically amusing about bowling-as-a-sport, as demonstrated by the 1996 film "Kingpin" — which the ad also pays tribute to with the recognizable song playing throughout the scene.

A last-second cameo by "Lebowski" co-star Steve Buscemi (possibly out of his element) made us beam with joy as well. So while we aren't racing out to grab a six-pack of Michelob Ultra (is anyone ever?), we'll tip a cap to its 2022 Super Bowl commercial.

Worst: Never Left (Presidente - 2020)

In our humble opinion, ever since The Mitchell Report gave high-horse-riding voters a pass to blackball anyone even suspected of taking performance-enhancing drugs, the Baseball Hall of Fame has lost some credibility. After all, excluding those players seems to diminish the entire purpose of a museum chronicling baseball's history. Of course, just because we'd argue that, say, Alex Rodriguez merits a Hall of Fame induction, that doesn't mean we like the controversial athlete. And that's precisely why his starring turn in a 2020 Presidente commercial (shown during Super Bowl LIV, according to The Street) is one of the worst we've ever witnessed.

The lack of self-awareness by the former Major League Baseball MVP never ceases to amaze us, but the 2020 advertisement takes it to another level. Frankly, watching a jean-jacket-rocking A-Rod attempt to connect with consumers by discussing his Dominican heritage is as laughable as his continued exclusion from the Hall of Fame.

It's hard to imagine anyone enjoying this misguided commercial — a supportive shoutout from his then-fiancee Jennifer Lopez on Twitter notwithstanding. So while we'd like to see A-Rod earn his bronze bust in Cooperstown some day, we'd be satisfied if our eyes never need to see this awful beer Super Bowl commercial again.

Best: One Second Ads (Miller High Life - 2009)

In 2023, it's not a stretch to say the entire concept of Super Bowl commercials has long since jumped the shark (like Fonzie when he, well, you know). Not that this is some sort of recent revelation. In fact, as Miller High Life's series of one-second ads from 2009 demonstrated (which aired throughout Super Bowl XLIII, according to Ad Age), the entire notion has been ripe for parody for decades.

Now, the deconstruction of entertainment tropes can be hit or miss, for sure — and is far from a universally beloved creative approach. But it's impossible to remain stone-faced while watching the series of one-second-long commercials that aired sporadically throughout that year's game. After all, who wouldn't be won over by the enthusiastic delivery by actor Windell Middlebrooks, playing a Miller High Life delivery driver (via USA Today)?

If you feel we're cheating by lumping together an entire group of Super Bowl advertisements as a single commercial, we'd respectfully disagree. Like the Bud Bowl, these 2009 ads are clearly connected, so we're making a (slight) exception — because the one-second beer commercials are undoubtedly some of the best in Super Bowl history.

Worst: Crying Jean (Stella Artois - 2011)

To be clear, we can appreciate that this 2011 commercial from Stella Artois (which aired during Super Bowl XLV, according to Forward) isn't your run-of-the-mill beer advertisement. But the issue mainly comes down to casting. And the choice to have Adrian Brody play a crooner causing ladies to swoon by his very presence? It just doesn't work. We don't mean to knock Brody or his acting ability. But with him in the lead role, this beer ad comes across as a silly attempt at cinematic romanticism — one that completely misses the mark.

Now, since the commercial has a clear desire to present something unique, we can begrudgingly admit we respect what it's attempting without remotely enjoying it. Frankly, though, saying that makes us feel like Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) offering half-hearted compliments about Jenna's (Jane Krakowski) terrible movie on "30 Rock." Because the reality is this commercial was a complete swing and a miss.

In addition, the fact the commercial was a full minute long (rather than a more standard 30 seconds) didn't turn us on — it made us roll our eyes. So, ambitious or not, this beer Super Bowl commercial ranks alongside the worst ever.

Best: Bud-weis-er Frogs (Budweiser - 1995)

There are a few commercials readers likely expect to see listed among the best beer Super Bowl commercials of all time. And while we may be tempted to eschew some of the more famous commercials because, well, just because, that wouldn't honor the spirit of this article. Frankly, though, how could we not list the immensely famous and well-known Budweiser frogs, from the 1995 commercial aired during Super Bowl XXIX (via USA Today), among the very best?

Arguably the best Budweiser Super Bowl commercial to ever air (which is saying something, given the number of Bud-based ads created for the game's 50-plus-year history), the Bud ... WEIS ... er frogs spot worked so well largely because of its exceedingly simplistic approach. After all, the high-concept advertisement consists of nothing but frogs croaking outside a swamp side tavern.

Even though the puppet frogs never leave their lily pad perch during the commercial, the trio of fake amphibians made a huge splash. The characters transcended the original ad-based appearance, penetrating numerous additional areas of pop culture (including a gut-busting parody on "The Simpsons," when the frogs are eaten by a Coors-endorsing alligator). Consequently, naming this classic commercial one of the best beer Super Bowl ads ever was more of a foregone conclusion than any other — and who's apt to argue?

Worst: I Like Beer (Michelob Ultra - 2018)

We don't necessarily think a less-than-stellar advertisement should get a pass simply because the message is clear — meaning a commercial with zero ambiguity can still rank among the worst of all time. Along those lines, there's no confusion about the idea behind Michelob Ultra's 2018 commercial (which aired during Super Bowl LII, according to Ad Age), where a series of folks sing the Tom T. Hall song "I Like Beer." But a well-executed production can still produce an awful advertisement, after all, and this beer Super Bowl commercial is a textbook example.

We have to wonder: Why are so many healthy, active, exercising individuals so focused on their future chance to consume beer, let alone enamored with the possibility of drinking such a middling beer brand like Michelob Ultra? Sure, we here at Mashed like (nay, love) beer, so we understand the personal passion for a sudsy mug of the delectable, thirst-quenching beverage. But when we're working out, we're thinking about working out — not our future inebriation.

The idea to cast Chris Pratt as a glorified featured extra (via SB Nation) seems too clever by half as well. If it was Chris Evans? We may be more forgiving. As it stands, we just don't like this beer Super Bowl commercial.

Best: A Dalmatian and a Clydesdale (Budweiser - 2008)

The Budweiser Clydesdales have made a number of memorable appearances in the beer brand's Super Bowl commercials through the years, and we could have chosen any of the widely loved and remembered commercials for this list. But we think its 2008 commercial (aired during Super Bowl XLII, according to Ad Age) featuring a Dalmatian training a disappointed horse — "Rocky"-style — to prepare for the following year's Clydesdale team tryouts simply can't be topped.

Now, the fact we've always been partial to any piece of entertainment that features a highly capable dog certainly factored into this decision. But it's not as though we're picking some obscure, barely remembered Clydesdale Super Bowl commercial (as if such an ad even exists). Even in 2008, it was seen as one of that year's top commercials, according to The New York Times, and topped all other commercials that year in a survey of faculty from the Michigan State University Department of Advertising.

It's human (or mammal) nature to fail, so maybe the simple story of hard work and eventual redemption just hits home. Or maybe it's the high-five between Dalmatian and Clydesdale at the end that makes this beer Super Bowl commercial such a pleasurable viewing experience. Either way, there's no uncertainty that this Budweiser ad was one of the best we've ever seen.

Worst: Evil Beaver (Miller Lite - 1997)

Whether it's an advertisement for beer, food, or another commodity altogether, some Super Bowl commercials just don't work. Even the seemingly pitch-perfect execution of an underlying concept might simply miss the mark on occasion. Count the 1997 Miller Lite commercial, featuring a beaver-costumed man destroying a family's log cabin (shown during Super Bowl XXXI, according to Forbes), among that group.

Actually, the idea that Miller's Super Bowl commercials began with terrible ideas seemed to plague the beer brand throughout the 1990s. In fact, as Sharon Napier, co-founder of the advertising agency Partners + Napier, told Forbes in 2014, the beer brand's advertisements were "beyond horrible" during the decade, offering little more than "meaningless trash and sold it as 'surrealism.'"

Since that description fits the 1997 evil beaver advertisement to a T, we're confident this commercial's subpar reputation is well-deserved. Maybe you find the sight of a man-sized beaver riding a dirt bike whimsically delightful — in which case, all the power to you. As for us? We'll remember this beer Super Bowl commercial as one of the worst of all time.

Best: Your Cousin From Boston (Samuel Adams - 2021)

Depictions of the Greater Boston area tend to portray its residents as some combination of obnoxious, loud, and arrogant — an (only somewhat accurate) characterization that quickly wears thin. So when a company deliberately tones down, rather than amps up, those wicked bad attributes often associated with Massachusetts-based folk, we can appreciate it. Of course, since Samuel Adams is brewed by Boston Beer Company, it makes sense the brewery barely acknowledged the area's well-known stereotypes in its 2021 commercial (aired during Super Bowl LV, according to Worcester Magazine) — outside of the mischievous, and titular, "cousin from Boston," that is.

Frankly, this Super Bowl advertisement works so splendidly because it keeps its focus on the rampaging, runaway horses wreaking havoc in the streets of Boston. While a different, non-Massachusetts-founded brewery may have chosen to lean into dialogue featuring exaggerated, hardcore accents, it seems Samuel Adams' marketing team understood that less is more sometimes.

in addition, this Super Bowl commercial features arguably the best-tasting beer ever advertised during the big game — the Wicked Hazy IPA. While that may say more about the low-level quality of most nationwide beer brands (those that can afford the astronomical cost for a Super Bowl commercial), it's still a point in this all-time great ad's favor.

Worst: Wasssup! (Budweiser - 2000)

If your immediate reaction is to scoff at this iconic 2000 Budweiser commercial (seen during Super Bowl XXXIV, according to Mel Magazine) being listed as one of the worst, then we'd question whether you were actually alive when it first aired. To be sure, the commercial is one of the most famous commercials — beer or otherwise — in Super Bowl history. But as we can attest, once the phrase "wasssup!" entered the cultural lexicon, it stuck around much longer than it should have — and ruined the commercial's initial fun over time as a result.

Frankly, we haven't found any incarnation of this commercial amusing since it was parodied in "Scary Movie" — a movie that came out in the year 2000. Still, the Michael Scotts of the world just couldn't let the "what's up" derivative stay in the past, and that ubiquity caused the commercial's appeal to age as well as raw chicken on a countertop.

Of course, we can respect anyone who continues to appreciate this viral-before-going-viral-existed commercial. But we'd emphatically disagree that it still holds up, and are confident in our declaration that this once-great beer Super Bowl commercial has officially crossed over to bad.