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Is it time to bring back the Beer Barrel?

Dangit, Peyton, I was just starting to like you.

There’s nothing really unique about the Kentucky/Tennessee football rivalry, except for the 26-year losing streak the Cats hope to put a stop to on Saturday. However, on the tail end of another disappointing season, some Tennessee fans want to play for more than just a bowl birth. They want to resurrect the Beer Barrel, the trophy that went to the winner of the game each year. For those younger KSR readers, here’s a little bit of info on the Beer Barrel, from the website that has created a petition to bring it back:

College football is known for its many sacred traditions. Many colleges and universities across the country share traditions with their rivals, including a post-game trophy exchange to the victor of a Saturday gridiron clash.

Back in 1925, a University of Kentucky supporter came up with the idea of playing for a trophy against boarder rival Tennessee. The trophy, a 200 pound beer barrel painted orange and blue with the scores from each contest went to the winner of annual contest. This began the Battle for the Beer Barrel, one of the most unique trophies in all of college football.

However, in 1998 the Battle for the Beer Barrel was discontinued due to the tragic death of Kentucky football player Arthur Steinmetz and passenger Scott Brock in an alcohol-related car accident. The vehicle was driven by Kentucky football player Jason Watts, who happened to survive the accident.

Currently, the Beer Barrel trophy is kept in a football equipment cage at the University of Tennessee. This website is an attempt to collect names from fans of Kentucky and Tennessee in support of bringing back the Beer Barrel trophy and the post game celebration. Once we gather enough signatures our plan to take the petition to each university’s athletic director to urge them to consider bringing back the 86-year old tradition.

After checking out the petition, which currently has around 140 signatures, I did a little more research on the Beer Barrel. Turns out the Barrel has quite the mischievous history. After Tennessee lost to the Cats back in 1953, a group of Tennessee fans kidnapped the barrel and hid it in Knoxville until Kentucky fans retaliated by kidnapping Smokey, the team mascot. This tomfoolery set off a series of pranks between the schools over the years, including a group of Vanderbilt students stealing the Barrel in 1960 as a way to gain support from Tennessee fans for an upcoming basketball game against the Cats. After Vandy failed to win, they returned the Barrel a few months later. After the fatal car accident involving Arthur Steinmetz, Scott Brock, and Jason Watts, athletic director CM Newton and Tennessee AD Doug Dickey decided to discontinue the tradition in respect for the victims and their families.

Those supporting the petition will argue that bringing back the Barrel would breath new life into a stale rivalry. Others will argue that having a trophy named “the Beer Barrel” celebrates drinking and sends the wrong message to college students. Me? I think the only way to keep calling this a rivalry, trophy or not, is for the Cats to win on Saturday and snap the streak.

What do you think? Is it time to resurrect the Beer Barrel or should the trophy stay in the basement of Neyland Stadium?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

55 responses to “Is it time to bring back the Beer Barrel?”

  1. Karl Marx

    Cats beat the Vols? In football?
    Good one.

  2. RP_McMurphy

    Winning this game will be bad long term for Kentucky. It would give Mitch a excuse for keeping Joke(r). Mitch is looking for every reason to not do the right for Kentucky football.

  3. here ya go

    well both states are known for their bourbon and whiskey, just because the name of the trophy is the beer barrel does not mean it;s a bad thing. like anything else alchohol is only bad if you abuse it.

  4. chief_broom

    i mean, what’s the point, really? just paint the damn thing orange and keep it down there…

  5. AlaCat

    3. Why not start a new tradition?

    Battle for the Whiskey Barrel, or, the Whiskey Bowl.

    Both states are damn-good at producing that stuff, and you could make the claim that the winner of the game could boast superior product. Heck, maybe even the distillers could come up with commemorative batches for the occasion.

  6. jlove

    I could have swore it was called the bourbon barrel some point. Guess I’m going crazy. I say don’t bring it back until we beat them.

  7. Smitty4UK

    Bring it back, but call it the ROOT BEER BARREL.

  8. MattJonesisTheEricDanielsofUKMedia

    Lets wait until UK wins once, before we worry about where the rival trophy is kept.

  9. Chris

    Why have an annual trophy that never changes hands? Might as well just call it “Tennessee’s Barrel”

  10. rhftwo

    Whatever happened to Jason Watts?

  11. VinDatUK

    Jason did some prison time and had a cup of coffee in the NFL. I want to say Denver. Tragic event that night. Horrible for all involved. Jason is actually a great guy that made a tragic, horrible mistake.

  12. realjoemathis

    i dont know if we should bring it back or not. but the article says that thing weighs 200 lbs? peyton manning is holding that in the air like he’s hercules or something

  13. Will Hill

    6. “The Bourbon Barrel” was for our rivalry against Indiana. It was discontinued at the same time as the Beer Barrel, and eventually Indiana was dropped completely from the schedule.


  14. Lost

    # 6 I swear it was called the Bourbon Barrel also (which makes more sense). I wondered what happened to it…I didn’t realize it was discontinued, I just thought Tennessee didn’t bother bringing it anymore since we are never going to beat them.

  15. RidgeRunner

    UK Football..? Love the boys who suit up but fire Joker.

  16. Burp

    Wasnt this the Bourbon Barrel. The Beer Barrel makes no season. Maybe the Beer Keg.

  17. Va Kat

    Bring back the dang barrel!! Do you actually think that fewer kids at UK and UT drink and drive now because the barrel is gone? Get real! The accident 13 years ago had nothing to do with that. Cats could use the extra motivation.

  18. Michael Kidd-Langford

    How about: The One-Sided Border State Rivalry Football Contest Presented by O’Doul’s.

  19. Chuck Norris

    They must go down.

  20. CatFaninAtlanta

    #18 for the win

  21. lumberjackcat

    I absolutely hate the Tennessee game it sucks. I have went to many throughout the years hoping this would be the year only to be disheartened. There is something psychological about the game that the team and program just can’t get over. I would like to celebrate if they win, but now it’s like I can’t take the win serious because it has been so long since they have beaten Tennessee. It’s crazy too because the year Tennessee isn’t that good we are terrible.

  22. just saying

    funny. Peytons holding the barrel where we can see the 1984 game that UK won 17-12, and after that its just sad

  23. duh

    let’s get real… college students are already drinking. having a beer barrel a part of the rivalry, or not, won’t make a difference in the lives of college students.

  24. JBR

    Yes, let’s bring it back, and if we lose, we put Joker in it and let UT take him off our hands.

  25. I'mAwesome

    Nothing sux like a big orange

  26. Dcsports


  27. Yabba do

    Bring it back

  28. old_school

    Beer barrel is ok. It’s just a inanimate object.
    Let’s just crack down on underage drinking, drunk driving and public drunkeness at the games.

  29. Vegas baby

    Tryouts welcome. We don’t have a qb this weekend.

  30. Kyknightrider

    25. The Jokes play calling is worse. FREE MIKE LEACH!!!!

  31. SeoulCat

    Getting rid of the beer barrel was a dumb, knee-jerk reaction by the athletic department in 1998. I thought it was dumb then, and thirteen years has done nothing to change my opinion.
    Bring it back.

  32. bsqurd

    if you look real close you can see the score of the 1984 game…..

  33. Vegas baby

    Cats need a qb this weekend. We have a thumb and shoulder problem.

  34. shields eyes

    Why would they call it the “Bourbon Barrel?” Bourbon is only made in Kentucky.

  35. Sheriff Buford T. Justice

    Leave the damn thing where it lies. Not like we’re ever going to win it.

  36. katmandue2you

    The beerbarrel represents a fun tradition between two schools…bring it back. Maybe you young whippersnappers need to look alittle closer at that barrel…you can actually see 4 wins for UK the way Manning is holding it….76, 77, 81, and 84. Joker was on two of those teams…so why dont u lay off his ass for half a second and let’s see what happens over the next year. Whether you want to admit it or not, second to Brooks he’s had more to do with UK football sucess at UK over the past few years than anyone else. Freakin easy to sit back and judge when u dont have to come up with the answers urself.

  37. ReedyCreekBuc

    The beer barrel was awarded to the winner of the UK-UT game. The bourbon barrel was awarded to the winner of the UK-IU game. Bring it back, but call it the Border Barrel.

  38. Buckets

    I like beer.

  39. MichiganCat1

    We shouldn’t even have this discussion until we beat them at least once.

  40. ShagOnSports

    It is a bourbon barrel not a beer barrel.

  41. cpacat

    Pardon me if this has been written already, I don’t have time to read all the comments, but my thoughts are…”Who Cares, we will never beat them again anyway, it really doesn’t matter!” I am turning 45 next month, we last beat them the fall I turned 18…it just is not going to happen in my lifetime.

  42. King Cote

    If that thing is 200lbs Peyton is stronger than he looks

  43. DT in DC

    31 – I totally agree. It was a silly thing to do then, and even sillier now 13 years after the fact. Bring it back.

  44. Dolfan66r

    Who cares? The dont want to lug it all the way up here anyway just to lug it back after they win again.

  45. Dolfan66r

    Who cares?

    They dont want to lug it up here anyway only to lug it back there after they win again.

  46. Hoss

    How do people not remember the Beer and Bourbon barrel games?

  47. nashvillecatsfan

    There are over 6 million people that live in the state of Tennessee and probably over half of them are UT fans, with the rest being from out of state (not many Vandy fans, even in Nashville). UT fans are much more concerned with beating Alabama, Vanderbilt (who has beaten them in the past quarter century, and the rest of the SEC. They assume Kentucky is an automatic win and for good reason. Let’s not invent a fake rivalry that only one side acknowledges. UT is a rivalry for us in football like Centre College is in basketball. Our rivals are Louisville and to a lesser exist Vanderbilt, due to the lack of animosity. I only consider Vanderbilt a rival due to proximity and the fact that we are usually playing for fifth and sixth place in the SEC East.

  48. nashvillecatsfan

    For my post at number 47, I meant to say that the 140 people that signed the petition are probably the only ones that consider UK a rival. That was the whole point of the first sentence there.

  49. MichaelTMTH

    Kentucky will never beat Tennessee enough to make it a real rivalry, much lees to include the Beer Barrel trophy as an attainable goal.

  50. lldjr
  51. The Outlaw Josey Wales

    Bring it back!


    UK hasn’t beat UT since I was a little kid…..Like Halley’s Comet…every 75 years or whatever!!???

  53. G

    UK would have had a good chance to beat UT before Tyler Bray came back… their defense can make plays. A 90% Bray is still too much.

  54. Roofus Howls

    If we want to connect with the modern student-athlete, we should get a water bong and make that the prize. Plenty of those in Knoxville too.

  55. Catsfan0711

    I love college traditions such as this. It would be great to see the beer barrel back in action. (Just coming back to Kentucky) I mean really what else do we have to play for this year. BEAT THE VOLS!!