Nothing says summertime quite like a cold beer on a hot day at the ballpark. Beer and baseball have a long history, especially here in Cincinnati. In 1878, the Cincinnati baseball club refused to sign a pledge that would ban playing games on Sundays and selling alcohol. Cincinnati was kicked out of the National League and joined the American Association, which would end up being known as the "Beer and Whiskey League," as many of the teams' financial backers were breweries and distilleries. Ticket prices at the American Association games were cheaper that at National League parks and beer was readily available, thus making professional baseball more accessible to the working class.
When you think of beer at the park most probably think of a fizzy, pale yellow, mostly tasteless beverage that helps choke down a hot dog. This doesn't have to be the case. How about a nice German Pilsener to pair with a Goetta dog, a local Amber ale with your bratwurst, or a hoppy IPA to tip back with your Big Red Smokey? GABP has you covered.
Craft beer sales are growing year in and year out, while the big boys (AB-InBev and Miller/Coors) are steadily losing ground. The craft beer boom is catching on at MLB parks as well, and baseball fans with discerning palates are willing to pay a bit more for hand crafted ales and lagers. After the jump is your guide to craft beer at GABP.
Unfortunately this category is about as thin as the Cardinals bench this year. AB InBev has successfully bullied their way into more tap handles at the ballpark this year by getting rid of Bells Oberon and Great Lakes Burning River on tap. Your choices of craft beer on tap now are Christian Moerlein, Christian Moerlein and Goose Island. They cost $8.50 for a 16oz pour as compared to the $7.50 for Bud products.
Moerlein Lager House Helles Lager - Bavarian Lager "from" Cincinnati, OH (5.2% ABV) RateBeer 38 points
Moerlein Over The Rhine Pale Ale - American Pale Ale "from" Cincinnati, OH (6% ABV) RateBeer 87 points
I have shared my views on Moerlein products here before, but to refresh...As of now Moerlein does not brew their beer in Cincinnati despite the fact that they plaster the word Cincinnati as well as local landmarks all over their packaging. Moerlein beer is contract brewed by the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and in my opinion, contract brewing is bad for business and leads to batch inconsistencies and off flavors in the finished product. Because of this, sometimes you order a beer it tastes great, and sometimes it tastes like bad homebrew. They are currently in the process of moving their brewery operations back to Cincinnati (the old Husman's chip factory) and have hired a great beer guy to be their new brewmaster, so I am not ready to write them off completely. I tend to agree that the OTR is the better of the two.
Goose Island Summertime - Kolsch Ale from Chicago, IL (4.7% ABV) RateBeer 52 points
Kolsch beers hail from Cologne Germany and predate lagers. These ales are light and slightly fruity and taste great on a hot summer day. Goose Island's Summertime is a nice interpretation of the style.
I have also seen some of Bud's fake craft beer on tap (Shock Top Wheat), but I do not really recommend trying it. I believe Leinenkugel Summer Shandy is back on tap this year as well, so if you want to pay $8.50 for beer and "natural lemonade flavor" mixed together, you have that option as well.
Bottles and Cans:
The craft beer in a can revolution has made its way to GABP with two new brews available. The following selections are available in two places in the ballpark, and are worth seeking out: The Grand Slam (located down the left field line by Section 112 next to the LaRosa's stand) and Scout's Alley (Located underneath the scout section). Scout's Alley is somewhat of a hidden gem at GABP and is highly recommended, especially during a rain delay. All bottles and cans cost $7 unless otherwise noted.
Rivertown Helles Lager - Bavarian Lager from Cincinnati, OH (?% ABV) RateBeer 48 points
A pretty decent lager brewed on the mean streets of Lockland. Nothing much to get excited about here, but tasty nonetheless.
Bell's Oberon - American Wheat Ale from Kalamazoo, MI (6% ABV) RateBeer 91 points
Wheat beers, while not my favorite style by far, really quench your thirst on a hot summer day. Oberon is very accessible for non-craft drinkers, slightly fruity with a clean finish. I really wish this was still available on tap all over the park.
Stone Levitation Ale - Amber Ale from Escondido, CA (4.4% ABV) RateBeer 94 points
I was super excited to find out this was available this year. This is one of my favorite Stone offerings, lots of flavor, low enough in alcohol that you can drink 5 or 6 of them and still be able to stand up, and really well balanced between the malt and hops.
Mt. Carmel Amber - Amber Ale from Cincinnati, OH (6% ABV) RateBeer 50 points
Mt. Carmel is my pick for the best Cincy brewery, all of their beers are brewed on the Dewey's family farm just east of town. Their Amber ale is nice, malt forward with enough hops to keep it from being too sweet.
Great Lakes Burning River - American Pale Ale from Cleveland, OH (6% ABV) RateBeer 97 points
I think Great Lakes is kind of underrated in the beer geek community. Lots of Cascade hops provide flavors of citrus and pine while slightly roasty malt flavors balance the bitterness.
Founders Centennial IPA - India Pale Ale from Grand Rapids, MI (7.2% ABV) RateBeer 98 points
A very solid non-West Coast American IPA. At 7.2% ABV this clocks in as the most potent beer offered at GABP, so for those who want the most bang for your buck this is your beer.
Avery Joe's Pils - Pilsener from Boulder, CO (4.7% ABV) RateBeer 88 points
Another beer that I was excited to find at the ballpark. Avery's newest year-round beer is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. This is the beer drinker's fizzy yellow beer.
Anderson Valley Summer Solstice - Cream Ale from Boonville, CA (5.6% ABV) RateBeer 58 points
Haven't been able to try this yet, so here's the commercial description: "This copper colored ale is a silky, creamy dream. It’s malty, very mildly hopped, and lightly sweet, with a delicate hint of spice for that oh-so-drinkable, extra velvety flavor. A cool beer for the heat, whatever your latitude!"
21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA - India Pale Ale from San Francisco, CA (7% ABV) RateBeer 96 points
Again, at 7% you get bang for your buck with this one. Big orange and grapefruit hop flavors dominate this beer. Good, but not quite as good as the Founders IPA in my opinion.
Hudy Amber Lager - Premium Lager "from" Cincinnati, OH (?% ABV) - $9.50 for a 24oz can
I've only seen this at the UDF behind home plate up top in the View level. Another bang for your buck beer as you are essentially getting 2 beers for $9.50. The beer itself is so-so, a little too sweet for my tastes, but drinkable nonetheless.