People take their basketball seriously around here. They take their craft beer seriously, too. Strong opinions are expressed by both crowds with a fanaticism bordering on religious zealotry. Heated arguments ensue. Lines are drawn.

Yet both can unify communities.

So a collaboration brew made by brewers from Durham and Chapel Hill seems like a perfect idea.

Triangle Brewing Company’s brewer Rick Tufts explains how he teamed up with brewers from Top of the Hill to craft an American pale ale. “We wanted something easy to drink that could be enjoyed again and again over the course of the game,” he says.

What game? Why the game that is one of the greatest rivalries in college basketball: UNC vs. Duke. The brewing of the pale aleappropriately called A Beer Dividedbegan Feb. 18, the day of this season’s first encounter between the two teams. The beer is set to be released at select locations in Chapel Hill and Durham right before the teams meet again on Saturday, March 7.

I ask Tufts if they were planning on canning or bottling it. “I wish,” he said. “Too bad you didn’t have the foresight to do that,” I kid. “Because people would love to get their hands on this commemorative beer.”

“Foresight?” Tufts says. He laughs. “We’re lucky we got it brewed in time.”

To make things more interesting, the losing brewers have to don their rivals’ jerseys and tend bar at the winning team’s establishment.

A Beer Divided? Maybe a better name would be A Beer United. Instead of drawing lines, Triangle Brewing and Top of the Hill are crossing them.

This article appeared in print with the headline “Two teams, one beer.”