Thanks to some developments that have unfolded in 2017, it seems that the bond between beer and baseball is only getting stronger. From the summer collegiate ranks to the majors, there have been some notable additions to the baseball and beer landscape, ensuring that one of the sport’s most apparent trends continues.
Over the last few years, there has been a sharp uptick in team-branded beers, particularly in Minor League Baseball. In articles in 2015 and 2016, we covered some of the beers that had been rolled out by teams. With the major and minor leagues weeks into their seasons, and with the summer collegiate leagues just getting started, now is a good time to look at some of the notable developments that have taken place in 2017.
Last week saw the addition of a beer that is exclusive to one circuit, as the Northwoods League announced the creation of Five Tool ale. An American cream ale, Five Tool ale will be available during the 2017 season at the following ballparks: Carson Park (Eau Claire Express), Warner Park (Madison Mallards), Herr-Baker Field (Fond du Lac Dock Spiders), Rivets Stadium (Rockford Rivets), Joannes Stadium (Green Bay Bullfrogs), Athletic Park (Wisconsin Woodchucks), Simmons Field (Kenosha Kingfish), Witter Field (Wisconsin Rapids Rafters), and Copeland Park (La Crosse Loggers).
Five Tool ale is the latest entry to the baseball-centric craft beer market, but it is not the only product to be introduced this year. In April, the Columbia Fireflies (Low A; Sally League) unveiled Luminescent Lager, a team-inspired beer that is created by River Rat Brewery. Luminescent Lager is available at both Spirit Communications Park, as well as River Rat’s location in Columbia.
A team-branded beer that awaits fans during the summer months comes from the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Short Season A; NY-Penn League). The Scrappers are partnering with Platform Beer Co to introduce a new Scrappers-inspired beer that will be available at Eastwood Field this season, and will also be sold at various establishments in the Youngstown area.
In March, the Frisco RoughRiders (Class AA; Texas League) announced a partnership with Franconia Brewing Co. that led to RoughRiders Red Ale being available at various locations in Frisco and Collins County. RoughRiders Red Ale was originally available at Dr Pepper Ballpark, but the team and Franconia have expanded its reach, as it is now sold at Krogers and other select locations.
This year has also seen the announcement of a new team-branded beer in the independent ranks. In March, the Long Island Ducks (independent; Atlantic League) announced that they were partnering with Great South Bay Brewery to introduce Duck Tail Ale. The American Style Golden Ale is available at Bethpage Ballpark this season.
At the major league level, it could be argued that 2017 has been a banner year for craft beer. Across MLB’s 30 ballparks, there has been an increased emphasis on diversifying beer lineups to include more craft beers, with some facilities placing a particular priority on incorporating local selections.
One ballpark where that trend is evident is Miller Park, a longtime haven for beer lovers that has amped up its offerings for 2017. As part of a renovation from the Milwaukee Brewers and Delaware North, Miller Park now features a new beer stand near section 207 that offers 24 Wisconsin-brewed beers. Lakefront Brewing, Wisconsin Brewing, Karben4, and Milwaukee Brewing are among the breweries that have a presence at the new stand, and the Bernie’s Barrelman Ale by Leinenkugel remains on tap on the club level.
The uptick in craft beers at the ballpark also owes something to the opening of SunTrust Park—the new home of the Atlanta Braves—and adjacent The Battery Atlanta. One of the most notable amenities at the venue is the ATL Brew Lab, a beer lab from the Athens-based Terrapin Brewing Co. Terrapin will offer a number of baseball-centric beers available at the facility, including the Chopsecutioner, which is aged over wood chips that are the remnants from the production of Mizuno bats.
The Kansas City Royals added a new element to the craft beer trend, as they announced a new partnership with Boulevard Brewing before the 2017 season. Now the “official craft beer” of the Royals, the Kansas City-based Boulevard has a large presence in Kaufman Stadium, and the relationship between the pair extends beyond the ballpark. For this season, Boulevard has unveiled Royals-inspired labels for 12 packs of its Unfiltered Wheat Beer that are available in the Royals’ viewing area, a range that includes Kansas City, western/central Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
Across the majors, there have been a few other notable craft beer developments. Nationals Park and the Washington Nationals now offer Earned Run Ale, a specialty beer from Devils Backbone Brewing Company that is available in the Left Field Lodge and other locations at Nationals Park.
In a nod to Baltimore’s baseball history, Union has added Steady Eddie (a nickname for Hall of Famer Eddie Murray) to its beer lineup. The wheat IPA is included among the Orioles’ offerings at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, where Maryland beers such as Heavy Seas, Flying Dog, RavenBeer, and others are also available.
Certainly, the pairing of craft beer and baseball continues to have significant momentum, and has managed to become more extensive and creative over the last few seasons. If 2017 is any indication, that trend is not slowing down anytime soon, which is good news for fans of beer and baseball alike.
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