2013 Guide to Craft Beer at Great American Ballpark.

-MBP

Beer needs baseball, and baseball needs beer - it has always been thus.

There is a quote attributed to Mark Twain about wanting to be in Cincinnati when the world ends, because it is always ten years behind the times. Though it's most likely apocryphal, the sentiment still rings true. Slowly but surely, Cincinnati is finally starting to embrace the craft beer movement. We are now approaching double digits in the number of microbreweries in the Cincinnati area, with two more currently in developmental stages. The two cornerstones of The Banks project are craft beer-centric bars, and just up the road in Over the Rhine you can find a solid beer list at pretty much any watering hole you stumble into.

Fortunately for you, the baseballing enthusiast with discriminating tastes, the fine folks at GABP have your quaffing needs covered. This year's lineup is by far the best beer list I have seen at Great American Ballpark, and I would put it up against any other ballpark I've been to.

Same as in years past, craft beer can be found at two locations in the park unless otherwise noted; The Grand Slam Stand (located on the third base side, behind Section 112) and Scout's Alley (beneath the scout seats).

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Draft:

Available at the Grand Slam Stand:

Bell's Oberon - American Wheat Ale - Kalamazoo, MI - 5.8% ABV - RateBeer 90 points

Great Lakes Wright Pils - German Pils - Cleveland, OH - 5.1% ABV - RateBeer 75 points

Alltech Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale - Strong Ale - Lexington, KY - 8.19% ABV - RateBeer 64 points

Hudepohl Amber - Premium Lager - Cincinnati, OH - 5% ABV - RateBeer 20 points

Available at the Food Network stand near Section 132:

Rivertown Hop Bomber - Pale Ale - Cincinnati, OH - 5.5% ABV - RateBeer 65 points

Rivertown Helles Lager - Helles Lager - Cincinnati, OH - 5.3% ABV - RateBeer 44 points

Available at various stand-alone draft carts throughout the ballpark:

Moerlein OTR - Pale Ale - Cincinnati, OH - 6% ABV - RateBeer 84 points

Moerlein Lager House - Helles Lager - Cincinnati, OH - 5.2% ABV - RateBeer 32 points

Goose Island Summertime - Kolsch - Chicago, IL - 5% ABV - RateBeer 49 points

I'm a fan of Oberon and the Wright Pils, as both are very solid beers that are true to their respective styles. I know I'm probably in the minority with this opinion, but I really can't stand Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. It's so cloyingly sweet that it really doesn't even taste like beer to me. It does pack quite a punch however, and clocks in with the highest ABV of any beer available at the ballpark this year, so there's that.

As of now, Moerlein still doesn't have their brewery operations in Cincinnati up and running yet, but they are hoping to have that completed in the very near future. When that finally happens, the beer should improve dramatically. As it stands, I'd recommend drinking your Moerlein brews next door at the Lager House, as the quality of the beers there compared to what you'll get from the contract brewed stuff is night and day. (Not to mention there is a very dashing bartender there that you might know.)

In addition to these year-round offerings, there will be one-off tappings of limited release kegs at the Grand Slam Stand on select Fridays this season. I'll do my best to keep you guys up to date on the details of those special events.

Bottles and Cans:

Bell's Two Hearted Ale - IPA - Kalamazoo, MI - 7% ABV - RateBeer 100 points

Two Hearted is one of my desert island beers, and this is about as close to perfect as an IPA gets. Very well balanced between citrusy-floral hops and malt.

Founders All Day IPA - IPA - Grand Rapids, MI - 4.7% ABV - RateBeer 96 points

Very excited that All Day is back this season. A great beer for a hot day, with tons of bright citrus hop flavors, a nice dry finish, and an extremely sessionable ABV.

Founders Centennial IPA - Grand Rapids, MI - 7.2% ABV - RateBeer 99 points

Another wonderful IPA from our neighbors up north. Citrus and pine flavors dominate this beer. Personally, I prefer the Two Hearted, but you really can't go wrong with either one.

Harpoon IPA - IPA - Boston, MA - 5.9% ABV - RateBeer 72 points

This is pretty much a the definition of a replacement level IPA. It's not offensive by any means, but with so many better choices, why bother.

Madtree PsycHOPathy - IPA - Cincinnati, OH - 6.9% ABV - RateBeer score N/A

Madtree, Cincinnati's newest brewery, will be represented at GABP this year with their PsycHOPathy IPA cans. A very nice local IPA. Dank, resinous and piney. Their branding is really great as well, and they have some of the coolest tap handles in the business.

Moerlein Northern Liberties - IPA - Cincinnati, OH - 6.3% ABV - RateBeer 74 points

You're probably better off drinking it at the Lager House.

5 Rabbit 5 Grass - Pale Ale - Chicago, IL - 6.2% ABV - RateBeer 67 points

5 Grass is the only Latin American-owned craft brewery in the U.S. A spice blend including juniper, sage and Tasmanian pepperberry give this Pale Ale an earthy flavor.

Mt. Carmel Amber - Amber Ale - Cincinnati, OH - 6% ABV - RateBeer 46 points

A nice, malt-forward Amber brewed on the Dewey's family farm just east of Cincinnati.

Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale - Longmont, CO - 6.5% ABV - RateBeer 98 points

This was the beer that started the craft beer in a can movement. Heavily hopped but still very well balanced.

Southern Tier Live - Pale Ale - Lakewood, NY - 5.5% ABV - RateBeer 94 points

A new favorite of mine from a consistently underrated brewery. Really unique tropical fruit flavors from the hops and very drinkable. Give this one a try if you haven't yet.

Unita Wyld Extra Pale - Pale Ale - Salt Lake City, UT - 4% ABV - RateBeer 64 points

Big time citrus flavors dominate this sessionable Pale Ale that is certified both organic and kosher.

Upland Helios - Pale Ale - Bloomington, IN - 4.9% ABV - RateBeer 59 points

A perfectly cromulent, yet unspectacular beer. Basically the Jack Morris of American Pale Ales.

Avery White Rascal - Belgian White - Boulder, CO - 5.6% ABV - RateBeer 72 points

A Belgian style Witbier brewed with coriander and Curacao orange peel. It's like Blue Moon for people with discerning palates.

Bell's Oarsman - Berliner Weisse - Kalamazoo, MI - 4% ABV - RateBeer 54 points

Oarsman tends to be a love it or hate it kind of beer, and I'm definitely a love it kind of guy. This sour wheat beer is tart, refreshing, and really quenches your thirst on a hot day.

Fat Head's Bumbleberry - Fruit Beer - North Olmstead, OH - 5.1% ABV - RateBeer 66 points

A wheat beer brewed with local honey and blueberries from the outskirts of Cleveland.

New Holland White Hatter - IPA - Holland, MI - 5.5% ABV - RateBeer 85 points

Spicy Belgian yeast esters combine with American hop flavors in this hybrid style Belgian White/India Pale Ale

Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout - Sweet Stout - Longmont, CO - 6% ABV - RateBeer 96 points

Milk stouts derive their name from the lactose sugar added during the brew session. The yeast are unable to ferment the lactose, leaving a residual sweetness in the finished product. Left Hand's is a very solid representation of the style.

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