Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday Weekly: Craft beer finally wins at Louisville Slugger Field in 2010.

Look close near the bottom of the photo, and you'll see the BBC table tent. It doesn't leap out at the passer-by, but grassroots movements for change have to start somewhere, right?

The Louisville Bats have concluded the 2010 campaign, and several of the team's prominent faces are playoff-bound with the parent Cincinnati Reds. We can now look back at the craft beer year that was at Louisville Slugger Field, and in spite of occasional missteps, surely it must be counted a success.

Browning’s Brewery had beer on tap from the start of the season, and shortly thereafter, the stadium concessionaires Centerplate installed two new draft lines at the Section 115 portable stand.

NABC Beak’s Best and Kentucky Ale were the first two craft beers to pour alongside Browning’s. Later, Centerplate’s second order cycle from River City Distributing (whose management was pivotal in the process) brought BBC American Pale Ale and Cumberland Red, and these remained on tap the rest of the season.

Am I disappointed that Beak’s didn’t make the cut? Not really. I’m a realist, and I come equipped with considerable baggage in this context. I've been out in front of this fight for more than a decade, and when one is prone to calling a spade a spade, you cannot complain about the inevitable backlash.

Rather, losing a battle is one thing, and winning a war something else. It was a great feeling this year knowing that I could go to the ballpark and drink beer that’s authentically local – not “craft beer” from Anheuser-Busch, which is as much of a contradiction in terms as “military intelligence,” but the genuine article. I drank quite a lot of the available choices, and spent much more money that I would have if they hadn't been there. That's the bottom line, and as craft beer's share of the sales pie increases overall nationally, concessionaires stand to benefit from progressive strategies.

Whatever our feelings about their past performance, both Centerplate and the management of the Louisville Bats deserve our thanks. Could more have been done to promote craft beer? Probably, but it will come in time. It is very important for readers not to drop the topic until next year, but to let them know now that you enjoyed and patronized the craft beer option this season, and would like to see it expanded next year.

There is a Facebook page devoted to craft beer at Louisville Slugger Field, and while it probably will be moribund during the off season, check back every now and then. I'll be posting the occasional blip of information, and you should do the same, especially links to articles about the selection and practices at other venues you've visited. When spring training starts in 2011, we'll see what happens.

No comments: