Although I have no German blood running through my veins, I have great respect for German culture, especially the part of it that perfected that tasty-ass malt beverage enjoyed by adults all over the world. You know, GOOD DAMN BEER! In a sport as old as baseball, the stories and fables passed down over the generations are every bit as important as the stat books, and the story of beer’s relationship with baseball is arguably one of the most important.
One of the legends I like to believe has a lot of truth to it: beer was the first beverage consumed at baseball games. Because, why the hell wouldn’t it be? You see, it was many of the Midwest’s German settlers that took a shine to baseball and brought their awesome beer with them to the games. Maybe it was their way to pass the time watching such a slow-moving game, or maybe they realized that beer helped to combine spectating and socializing, or maybe the Germans just made such kick-ass beer that they never went anywhere without it. Whatever the reason, they figured out one thing for sure: good damn beer made baseball better.
It didn’t take long for baseball fans everywhere to recognize the Germans were on to something, and it didn’t take long for ballpark owners realized they were missing out on a massive revenue stream. So, beer – like hot dogs, popcorn and prezzles – became regular fare sold at the ball game. Baseball and beer made one a hell of a combination, and American baseball fans were drinking it up… well, until prohibition set in. It’s virtually impossible for the modern day fan to imagine baseball with out beer. Today, it would be baseball blasphemy to suggest attending a midsummer ball game on a blistering hot day, at a park completely devoid of the sound, COLD BEER HERE! At least the fans of the American dark ages could grab a couple of cold grape soda-pops. It is truly a miracle that baseball survived prohibition.
Abstaining from beer, Homer has an epiphany while attending a baseball game.
It’s no coincidence that Major League Baseball’s first All Star Game was played in 1933, the same year the 18th Amendment was repealed. MLB knew they had to create a great game to welcome back a beverage that was just as American as the nation’s pastime. As the years went by, beer and Major League Baseball worked hand in hand promoting each other with such incredible success that modern day macro brewers had exclusive rights selling their beers at the ballparks.
85 All Star Games later, baseball and beer have reached a new stage in their relationship. The popularity of American Craft Beer has become so undeniable that professional baseball venues have been forced to meet the overwhelming demand and make craft beer available at throughout most ballparks. And baseball just got a hell of a lot better!
Now, to celebrate MLB’s 86th Midsummer Classic* and craft beer’s new found role in our great American pastime, I replaced the studs at each baseball position with styles of suds, to offer an All Star Craft Beer Lineup. And because home field advantage is at stake in the actual All Star Game, I made sure each style was up to the task of covering its position on the field.
If you plan on going the long hall, you better put down that high gravity and start with the sensible ABV of a session IPA. Don’t be knocked out of the game early because you got too aggressive too soon with a double digit, imperial brew.
At this position, you need someone sturdy and reliable who doesn’t mind being shorted credit when a great game has been pitched. Brown Ales have been around a long time and have been overlooked as a great ale with the emergence of the flashy IPAs. I’ve always been able to rely on the Brown Ale as a hearty, tasty brew that’s not too strong to go the distance.
Big. Bold. A Heavy Hitter. Too much of a good one can be devastating, so drink it as slow as a first baseman runs.
Much like the 2nd basemen, as one of the smaller guys on the field, the lighter saison can show flash and pop with a spicy finish – like turning a double play.
You have to be absolutely fearless and play with fire at 3rd base. As a brewer, you have to be equally as fearless as you add bucketful after bucketful of luscious hops to your brew, knowing damn well you’re brewing liquid fire. But the good brewer also knows, how a 3rd baseman can make one of the greatest plays of the game, she could be brewing one of the greatest beers in America.
Everyone knows the shortstop is the most reliable and versatile fielder and gets the most work. When the Craft Beer Revolution started hitting it’s stride, the American Amber was everywhere. It’s still a reliable choice, pairing well with any food or occasion. But just like a shortstop, it has a lot riding on its performance. So, it better be damn good.
Left field is the 1st basemen of the outfield. He’s not the best fielder, but he gets a lot of work and often has a big bat. Scotch ales aren’t often mentioned when discussing the greatest styles of beer, but often enough you’ll find a big tasty one that can be the star of your fridge.
Often times, the center fielder is the best all-around player on the team. He’s a triple threat of speed, glove and bat. That’s how I feel about a great Marzen. It’s a well balanced, crisp and tasty brew. And, like a great center fielder, it shines in October.
Any German Lager will do here, because the best way to drink it is a liter at a time. And you better have a STRONG ARM to lift a one liter glass stein full of some of the best damn beer around.
Ideally, you’d like your closer to be a guy with a strong arm, who you can use for one inning, to end the night and seal the victory. Nothing fills this role better than a full-flavored, strong and oh so satisfying Belgian brew. After one – and in special situations, two – you can go to bed with a smile on your face.
*due to WWII there was no All-Star game in 1945, during the seasons of 1959-1962 there were two All-Star games played during each season