Don't spill your brews, boys.
Going to a baseball game should be an experience. A true fan will derive joy from watching the game unfold but, at the same time, whether or not the home team wins cannot be the sole determinant of success or failure in a day at the park. Concessions are part of a ballpark's atmosphere, its personality. Go to a game, have a hot dog, and grab a beer while you're at it.
Beer lends a park a certain character, and every park has a few great brews available. Find out what the locals love and embrace the experience. You just might find it helps build camaraderie with your fellow fan. Here's the beer to choose at every big-league park.
A good baseball beer must hold a chill, so don't expect to see many dark, heavy malts on this list. Sierra Nevada offers a really rich, summery blend of spices and smells, and it just feels right in your hand on a hot night in the desert.
Arizona may be hot, but it's a dry heat—and anyway, Chase Field has a retractable roof and air conditioning. No such amenities are afforded to spectators at Turner Field, so a beer with a serious cold factor is required to do the job.
Icehouse is appreciably colder only when gotten fresh from the tap or the fridge, so don't bother hunting down an Icehouse roving vendor, but it can really hit the spot when Atlanta starts boiling—around May 15.
Heavy Seas is a local brew, and though they've diversified into a lot of different things, their classic lager still hits the high notes. Brewed specifically to blend with some good Maryland crab cakes, which you can also grab inside, this is the good stuff, and authentically Baltimore to the core.
OK, so it's a bit mainstream, and I'm sure some real Red Sox Nation loonies would want to see Harpoon here, but Samuel Adams is the best libation in the park both for taste and for value. Fenway doesn't have roving vendors for most patrons, so you'll have to find a stand nearby, but they should all be stocking the good stuff.
Get it while you can: Old Style and the Cubs are both under new management and, reportedly, they're not seeing eye-to-eye. But for now, this remains a big-time local tradition, a good daytime beer and the right way to kick off a full day of partying in Wrigleyville, as Old Style is a bit higher in alcohol by volume than most mainstream brews.
It's originally a Colorado beer, but Blue Moon has gained some tremendous local traction in Chicago. The White Sox draw a very blue-collar crowd that often prefers the simpler things, but no one looks sideways at those who opt for quality. Just don't try to get it with an orange at the park. This is not California.
Moerlein is a local microbrew, and it's not all that easy to find inside the park. Most stands have only the basic, big-name brands, and those are fine.
But if you want to get adventurous (and a bit more tipsy), make for the Machine Room Bar inside the park. The Over-the-Rhine is Moerlein's take on an American pale ale, and at six percent ABV, it's trouble in a pint glass. But it's tasty trouble.
Shock Top drinks easily, tastes a bit of fruit and is very summery. I wouldn't normally describe Cleveland that way, but the fanbase the team has drawn back to the ballpark this season with their dramatic antics somehow fits this lighter fare very nicely.
Yes, Blue Moon is on-site and delicious. But Coors' golden brew is good stuff too, and it feels more appropriate to the atmosphere at the park that bears its name. Its heartiness also pays off at frigid April games, where Blue Moon seems out of place.
LaBatt is Canadian, of course, but in a city just across the water from the Great White North, it's gotten quite popular anyway. There's a terrific lounge—the LaBatt Blue Light Jungle—in the lower levels. And as a blue-collar brew, it feels in its element in the Motor City.
For about 10 minutes once, the Marlins called their home Land Shark Stadium. The beer, brewed by Margaritaville Brewing Company (yes, Jimmy Buffett's involved), is as Florida as Florida gets. It is not the tastiest thing within reach, but it screams summer and puts you in an easygoing mood. Which is probably the right approach watching the Marlins.
I considered the easy joke here: anything. Just guzzle it down. You're there watching the Astros, it's nothing to try sober.
In the interest of better serving Astros fans, though, I'll at least point out that local brew Saint Arnold's, a stunning orange amber ale with all kinds of flavor, is now available even in the upper deck.
Just make sure you drink a ton of it. Okay, couldn't resist. And really, don't do that. Enjoy your ballpark, your game and your beer responsibly.
Boulevard is another local, a Kansas City brewer with a wide variety of available beers at the ballpark. As usual, I'm partial to the amber, a lighter-than-average amber in this case, and a good pair for some good old-fashioned KC BBQ. Unfortunately, it won't be ready until 2013. Just kidding. That's the ball club.
We have our first repeat, and it's essentially by necessity.
I'm sure one can find, in the luxury boxes or the field-level seats occupied for just half an hour per game, some good beers, but for the majority of the folks, it's a very dry bed. Sam Adams is worth the small uptick to avoid Miller Lite, which is...well, if you like it, you'll love Dodger Stadium.
I dig the vibe around Angel Stadium. Even when the team is not overwhelmingly good, you can go the park, enjoy a Corona, get a little goofy, maybe play with your rally monkey a little and get a glimpse of Arte Moreno, the team's delightfully plebeian owner.
Leinie's is becoming a beloved name in beer throughout the country, but its roots are in Northern Wisconsin and perhaps nowhere is it more popular. Despite the name of the ballpark, people mostly want to enjoy a Leinie's at Brewers games.
Local to St. Paul, Summit Brewing Company does very fine light beers with a lot of different options. Twins fans in April and May might find themselves longing for a heavier draft but, for the most part, Summit pairs perfectly with a day at limestone-rich Target Field.
At some times and locations, only Brooklyn Brewing Company's Pale Ale is available to fans, and that's still a fine beer. But the Pennant Ale is meaningfully better: sweet, almost like a liquor, very smooth and a solid summer drink.
Beyond the basic options (Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite) there are a few other domestics at the stadium that can help you enjoy the game without getting too deep into your wallet. Trouble is, those beers are largely terrible—Schlitz? Schaefer? Really?
Therefore, make your way to those stands, but nab a PBR instead. It may not be world-class, but Pabst is a step up the ladder from the stuff you can get at the same price.
Kona's Fire Rock is a beer with a bite, a solid pale ale with lots of citrus that still burns enough to be distinctly Northern California, not Southern. It's a good beer in a ballpark with good food, as well, and if the stadium aesthetics or the quality of the product on the field ever improved, the A's might be a must-see-live kind of thing.
Philadelphia's favorite ballpark features a ton of beer options; it's one of the better parks in the league in that regard. Otter Creek's flagship label, the copper ale, is a good fit on both the bitter-cold nights of the early season and sun-drenched July afternoons. It's not fruity; it is very straightforward, occasionally bitter but always hoppy and exciting. Not unlike Philadelphia fans themselves.
The best ballpark in the big leagues also has one of the best beer selections, but as in Philadelphia, don't expect these hearty Pennsylvanians to push fruit-laden, light beer. The Railbender (so named, one might allow oneself to imagine, for its effect on train conductors in days gone by) is a heavier-than-average ballpark beer but is still sweet to taste, and it really packs a punch with nearly seven percent ABV.
Look, I love a good micro or import as much as the next guy. I might like them more. But inside Busch Stadium, it's hard not to want to just grab some Buds (waiting for my check, fellas) and enjoy the ballgame in true St. Louis style.
Coronado makes all manner of specialty beers, but being both light and straight-laced, their amber ale is the best bet for the smooth sunsets and beautiful vistas all around PETCO Park. Like the Padres themselves, Coronado does not pack much punch, but it's delicious.
On cold nights—there are no other kind—on McCovey Cove, it's nice to have a beer that warms you without weighing you down. Being local, Anchor Steam knows how to do just that. It's a creamy, rich beer with plenty behind it, but light in color and flavor to keep you feeling summery even as the wind slices you.
The ESB stands for Extra Strong and Bitter, which leads me to believe the brewers (it's a local label) saw Mariners fans coming. Darker and heavier than usual ballpark fare, Redhook hits you with citrus before driving home bitter (but not overwhelmingly so) notes on the back end.
The Trop offers a surprisingly wide variety of beers, although I guess ballparks are like bars that way: If your place is a dump like that one, it had better be wall-to-wall with the good stuff. Grab a Dos Equis to keep things interesting, and to get smoothed out from the horrible commute to the park. It's a good beer for unwinding.
This is high-quality, cowboy beer. It's available only in Texas. It tastes of roasted grains, and has that almost woody aftertaste that makes it a drinker's drink. But it's also very sweet and drinkable, and you can get it on tap at non-premium prices. God bless Texas.
A treasure of Canada that has not really caught on in the States, Keith's is a nearly 200-year-old brewery with a lot of specialties. But their IPA, with sweetness derived from licorice and a great drinkability factor, takes the cake as best ballpark fare in the lineup.
Dogfish is a continually-hopped beer, a hellish creation that results in nine percent ABV. It's also deliciously fruity, but not in a citrus way. It's more of an East Coast fruit beer, rich and sweet but not tangy. A very good no-nonsense brew for a very good no-nonsense crowd at Nats Park.