Brewery District Reds

The definitive ballpark craft beer ranking


There have been a lot of articles about craft beer offerings at ballparks in the past couple of years. And a lot of efforts to rank the ballparks by beer selection. Beer is a pretty subjective topic, though, so a lot of that is hit and miss. I think this article at the Washington Post today, however, is the most definitive ranking/offering listing I’ve seen, and does a great job of contextualizing craft beer and its place in major league ballparks.

The rankings are based on (1) quality, as defined by Beer Advocate rankings; (2) locality, as in how much beer is from nearby; and (3) uniqueness of offerings. Then an overall raking is compiled.

The top ranked ballpark for craft beer: Safeco in Seattle. That’s not surprising based on what people have told me about the place. The article notes just how committed that park is to craft beer and how, next year, they’re going to offer suggested food pairings at each concession stand. Seattle is turning into a must-visit for me.

Last: Yankee Stadium. This is not at all surprising based on things we’ve seen there in the past and its generally poor approach to concessions in general.

The two parks I go to most — Comerica Park in Detroit and Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati — rank 6th and 2nd, respectively. Comerica has a fantastic area devoted to Michigan’s many excellent craft beers behind the right field foul pole. I make a beeline there each time I take a trip up there. It probably gets knocked down a bit due to the fact that craft beers are more or less confined to that part of the park while Miller/Coors products are everywhere else. As the article notes, Cincinnati made a big, big commitment to craft beer this year by installing a looooong bar on the third base line with tons and tons of both local and national craft taps of outrageously high quality. It was a total game-changer for a park that, until recently, was pretty meh as far as it goes. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable a trip to Cincy is for a ballgame knowing that treat is waiting for me.

Maybe the biggest takeaway from the article, however, is this passage:

Counting single-day offerings, the Cincinnati Reds’ selection of distinct beers went from 42 to more than 130 – the most in Major League Baseball, according to a Washington Post analysis. Craft sales increased even more dramatically, by 363 percent. The biggest-selling beer at the Brewery District is still Bud Light – not exactly a craft product – but stadium officials found that rather than taking away from existing beer sales, craft consumers were actually creating a new category.

There are a lot of laws around the country which put craft brewers at a disadvantage compared to large brewers or otherwise seek to stifle the growth of the craft industry. Many ballparks — especially those with big beer tie-ins in their name — are less-than-receptive to craft beer as well. I suppose on some level the rise of craft beer is a threat to the big brewers, but it’s not a direct threat and it’s not a zero sum game. One would hope that, in light of this, things would be a bit less tense out in the world of beer. But I suppose that’s asking too much.

(Thanks to Josh R. for the heads up)

Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga to throw out first pitches in Games 1 and 2

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 05:  Kenny Lofton #7 of the Cleveland Indians runs to first base against the New York Yankees during Game Two of the American League Divisional Series at Jacobs Field on October 5, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Major League Baseball just announced the details for the ceremonial and off-field stuff in connection with Games 1 and 2 of the World Series. The one most people were wondering about was the ceremonial first pitch. Sorry, Charlie Sheen fans. Sorry fans of “Major League” in general. Two real baseball stars are handing first pitch duties: Kenny Lofton before Game 1, Carlos Baerga for Game 2.

Lofton needs no introduction. He should be a Hall of Famer but is criminally overlooked, perhaps because he bounced around to a lot of different clubs. He made his name in Cleveland, however, doing three separate tours with the Indians, leading the AL in stolen bases for five straight years early in his career and putting up a line of .300/.375/.426 in ten seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.

Baerga played for the Tribe between 1990 and 1996 and was, for a time, quite the superstar, even if people don’t talk about him much anymore. His career fell off pretty quickly in that way that often happens for second basemen and/or stars who end up on the Mets, but there was a time when he was perhaps the biggest star on some excellent Indians teams. People had “will Carlos Baerga be a Hall of Famer?” conversations and stuff. The mid-90s were a special time.

Beyond the first pitches, the National Anthem will be sung by Rachel Platten before Game 1 and by the group Locash before Game 2. As I am an old man out of touch with most things, I have no idea who they are, but I am sure their fans are passionate and their renditions of the Anthem will be fine and non-controversial. Fox, MLB and the folks at major record labels are pretty good about that sort of thing and everyone will be especially vigilant in light of what happened with that Canadian tenors group at the All-Star Game. If nothing else, I bet you pick up the check for the Anthem performance after the song, and not before these days.

I guess the White Sox don’t count

CHICAGO - APRIL 04: General Manager Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox shows off his World Series Championship ring during ceremonies prior to the start of a game against the Cleveland Indians on April 4, 2006 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

I realize everyone is super excited about the Cubs being in the World Series for the first time since 1945, with the chance to win it for the first time since 1908. But you’d think folks would remember that it’s just the Cubs — and not Chicago as a whole — who have been away from the Fall Classic for so long.

I know their recent struggles makes it seem like a long, long time ago, but the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. They were in the World Series in 1959 too. You wouldn’t know that, though, if you looked at some prominent media outlets:





I understand the impulse to tell the “a whole city is coming together!” story every time stuff like this happens, but there are a lot of White Sox fans in Chicago. A good number of them don’t give a crap about the Cubs. Many even resent them for being the glory franchise in the city in the eyes of many. They certainly don’t feel like there’s a championship drought afoot, and I imagine they’re somewhat cranky about having their team’s glory plastered over like this.