Thursday, June 13, 2013

O'Connor Brewing headlines the craft selection in Norfolk, as Bats lose again.

The Louisville Bats have traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, where the Tides play at Harbor Park (opened in 1993) as the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

So, what are the craft beer options at Norfolk's field? How do they compare with the perennially disappointing macro-mania fixation in Louisville? My verdict after cursory Internetz research: Thumbs up.*

Once again we see a locale comfortable with the proposition that mega and micro are not mutually exclusive, happily grasping the existence of demand for craft beer among the customer base -- a statistical certainty that neither the mercenary Bats nor others in Louisville's own craft brewing community seem able to bring themselves to concede. Entertaining all the fans who come to a game by offering genuine choice? Wow, what a concept.

The examples begin with a homebrewer:

To culminate an enjoyable brew session, the family and I traveled down to Norfolk, Virginia for an evening at the ballpark and a Norfolk Tides baseball game. For a long time, ballparks have been a veritable craft beer wasteland, and Harbor Park was no exception. In recent years, however, craft beer options (albeit limited) are starting to become available. Located on the first base side of the main concourse at Harbor Park is a draft beer stand featuring two beers from Norfolk’s own O’Connor Brewing Company.

Harbor Park can even be reached by light rail.

And while we’re on the topic, most of the concession stands sell only Bud or Coors products, but there are a couple of places in the park that you can pick up a craft beer; even some from the local brewery, O’Connor Brewery (reviewed below). Down the third base line on the main concourse is the Park Avenue Brewery stand. While it only has bottles, it has multiple options for craft beer including options from Starr Hill, Harpoon, Flying Dog, New Belgium and O’Connor.

Good grief. Even the park's Yelp reviews laud the selection of local (and other) craft beers.

The Louisville Bats?

Two well-hidden local craft beers on tap at a roasted peanut stand, and laughable ads touting Saturday specials for poseur mockrobrews like Shock Top, Amber Bock and Landshark Lager. The Bats place "craft" in quotation marks for the promos, indicating that even the club itself knows it's full of it.

The Norfolk Tides? Much better.

Tides win.

Season craft beer record: Opponents 7, Bats/Centerplate 1.


Probably no craft beer options for Gwinnett Braves games at Coolray Field, so the Bats finally win one.

If you can find where the Charlotte Knights play, there's craft beer there.

Craft beer at Lehigh Valley IronPigs baseball games.

Buffalo Bisons, Coca Cola Field, and local craft beer access.

Indianapolis Indians, Victory Field and a merciful end to "don't ask, don't tell" in local craft beer access.

Toledo Mud Hens view locally brewed craft beer as positive enticement. Imagine that.

* The standard disclaimer, to be considered any time one cannot actually be there to see things up close and personal, pertains to the bastardization of the "craft" concept by multinational, industrial brewers. Absent qualification, it remains likely that "craft" in many PR-speak contexts probably includes beers that are "crafty" (i.e., mockrobrews like Shock Top and zombie crafts such as Goose Island), and not locally-brewed craft beer.

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