Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I'm a baseball fan.

In fact, I'd say baseball has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. While major league baseball is great—take last night's All-Star Game, and the break in the game the entire stadium took to honor retiring Yankee-great Derek Jeter—what I really find to be one of the great joys in my life, is watching minor league baseball at the park.

There's something simple about a minor league game. For me, those games are where true baseball lies. The player's hearts are in the game, and minor league ball is far less big-business, and more, well just about baseball. I don't want to sound sappy, but there's a purity to minor league ballgames. There's just something perfect about packing the family up on a warm summer's afternoon and trucking to the ballpark to watch a game.

Hops grown by New South Brewing Co,
at Park, home of the
Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
Fortunately, minor league ballparks are also becoming a haven for some great beer. At home, in the Capital Region of New York, Brown's Brewing Company has a bar located along the first base line at Joe Bruno Stadium, home of the Valley Cats. Not only can you get some of Brown's regularly scheduled brews, they also make Iron Horse IPA, as part of Ales for ALS, in which all proceeds are donated to the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI), the world’s leader in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS research. For those who might night know, ALS is often called Lou Gehrig's Disease, named for the Hall of Fame Yankee first baseman, afflicted by the disease in the 1930s. Gehrig's nickname was the Iron Horse.

In my last post I mentioned that Ashland, Virginia's Center of the Universe Brewing Co. produces Chin Music, an amber lager for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, but this beery baseball phenomenon is happening across the country. In Rochester, New York, Rohrbach Brewing Company makes Red Wing Ale for Rochester's International League team the Red Wings. Fans of the Indianapolis Indians can get Indian's Lager, a Vienna lager brewed by Sun King Brewing Company, at Victory Park. Papillion Nebraska's Omaha Storm Chasers offer an extra pale ale called Ale Storm made by the Nebraska Brewing Company. The team that seems like the most obvious choice for good beer at the ballpark has to be the Hillsboro Hops, the hometown team of Hillsboro, Oregon. For this beery team, Bridgeport Brewing Company makes a Golden Ale dubbed Long Ball Ale. This past Monday I had the chance to quaff a few Summer Tides--a hoppy wheat pale ale--made by New South Brewing Company for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans of the Carolina League. These are just a few examples of the growing number of local minor league parks partnering with locally made beer.

Interestingly, many of these breweries are taking a session approach to their ballpark brews, ending up with lower in strength beers, topping out at around 5%. My guess is that these ballparks would rather not re-enact Cleveland's 10-cent beer night.

All said and done, baseball and beer go hand in hand, like peanuts and cracker jacks. Although Bud and Coors Light are still available at all these ballparks, it's nice to see some good, local beer finally creeping into the upper deck.

Many thanks to for help on this one.

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