A Beer Drinker’s Guide to the 2011 MLB Postseason

As a sports fanatic I’m naturally superstitious. I wear certain hats, t-shirts, and jerseys, or certain combinations of all three, that I convince myself somehow have an impact in the game’s outcome. If my team wins one week I’ll wear the exact same combination the next week. If they lose, it must be something I did wrong. In reality, I know that this is ridiculous. I have no affect on the outcome. But as a sports fan it’s hard to sit back and let go of control and leave it simply in the hands of the players themselves.

As a lover of beer and the discovery of great local craft beer, my latest superstitious method of controlling the outcome of a game is the beer I drink during the game. When the Cubs or Bears play, I must drink Chicago’s Goose Island, for example.

Last year, I got a tweet from Andrew Henderson at The Beer Sessions about his new Craft Monday Night Football blog series, encouraging readers to drink particular craft brews from the cities represented by that week’s MNF matchup. This inspired me to do a series about great craft beers from the regions represented in the MLB Postseason on my beer blog, Drink Local. I had a lot of fun with it during the Division Series last year and decided to do it again for this postseason, not only on Drink Local, but here on Aerys as well. So without further ado, here is your guide to the best local brews for the postseason.

Texas Rangers – Saint Arnold Brewing Company (Houston, TX)

If you swear by IPAs like I do, your choice needs to be the Elissa IPA from “Texas’s Oldest Craft Brewery.”  This is a big, bold hoppy ale with a perfect mix of floral and citrus flavors, brought on by the Cascade hops.

The St. Arnold website describes the background behind this beer and its name:

“This beer is named after ELISSA, a tall ship now moored in Galveston. Ships like ELISSA were used in transporting IPAs to India.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company donates a portion of the proceeds of this beer to the Galveston Historical District for preservation of this ship.”

Not a fan of the bitter? A good choice for drinking during a baseball game, and available at Rangers Ballpark, is the St. Arnold Fancy Lawnmower:

When it came to naming the beer, we performed our typical expensive, highly sophisticated consumer research program. We made a sheet of paper with five potential beer names on it: Select, Blonde, Kölsch, Golden and Fancy Lawnmower Beer. We then went around to any parties or bars we were at and handed out these sheets to have people rate their perception of the quality of the beer with each name on a scale of 1 to 5. If we just averaged the totals, Golden would have won. People rated Fancy Lawnmower Beer either a 1 or a 5, but all anyone wanted to talk about, no matter what they rated it, when they handed their questionnaire in was Fancy Lawnmower Beer.

Tampa Bay Rays - Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, FL)

In last year’s Rays-Rangers series I featured the popular Cigar City Jai Alai IPA and Guava Grove, but I’ve been meaning to try the Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale for a while. When I heard from Sarah Tyson, our Rays blogger at Cowbell Clankers, that it’s available at the Trop, I knew this would be my featured brew for this post.

“Pours brown in color with notes of caramel, toffee, chocolate and hints of espresso. Flavor has caramel/toffee sweetness is upfront with intermingling notes of chocolate and espresso with a roasted peanut expression in the finish.”

The beer is named for the cigar of the same name, from the Spanish word for “mature”. The Maduro is created through an additional fermentation process to mellow the tobacco, so even though it looks darker – like the ale itself – it’s actually mild with nutty, naturally sweet and roasted flavors.

If the Rays make it past the Rangers into the ALCS, you may just want to light up a Macanudo or Arturo Fuente, one of the milder, smoother types of Maduro, with your Cigar City in celebration.

New York Yankees - The Bronx Brewery (Bronx, NY)

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m proud to announce that we have a brewery right in the very borough that the Yanks call home, just in time for their postseason run. The Bronx Brewery is open for business and has started shipping their flagship Pale Ale to bars around NYC:

Bronx Pale Ale is a unique version of the traditional American-style pale ale. “What really distinguishes the beer is its freshness, the strength and complexity of its caramel, biscuit, and nutty malt flavors, and its focus on hop flavor and aroma rather than the extreme bitterness found in many American pale ales and IPAs.”

At 6.3% ABV it’s gonna be bolder than your typical Pale Ale, but well balanced between 5 malts that “provide a complex blend of nutty, caramel and biscuit flavors, giving the beer substantial mouthfeel and backbone” and four varieties of hops, including Cascade and Centennial, that give it a “robust aroma with predominant grapefruit and earthy notes.”

Right now it’s available on draft at select bars throughout the Bronx and Manhattan, but will be shipping in bottles soon for your home enjoyment.

Detroit Tigers - Founders Brewing Company (Grand Rapids, MI)

The Tigers weren’t exactly the preseason pick to run away with the AL Central. Only four out of 45 ESPN “experts” picked the Tigers, with most choosing the White Sox and a smattering of votes for the Twins. But that’s okay. Founders Brewing Company, out of Grand Rapids, MI, doesn’t do things the way everyone else does either.

“We don’t brew beer for the masses. Instead, our beers are crafted for a chosen few, a small cadre of renegades and rebels who enjoy a beer that pushes the limits of what is commonly accepted as taste. In short, we make beer for people like us.”

Need something with pop to overpower the hoards of Yankees fans in your face? Take a sip of the Dirty Bastard and let your tastebuds do the talking:

So good it’s almost wrong. Dark ruby in color and brewed with seven varieties of imported malts. Complex in finish, with hints of smoke and peat, paired with a malty richness and a right hook of hop power to give it the bad attitude that a beer named Dirty Bastard has to live up to. Ain’t for the wee lads.


Philadelphia Phillies - Victory Brewing Company (Downingtown, PA)

How can you not feature a beer called Victory when discussing what you want to drink for a little postseason luck?

This past week I happened upon the Headwaters Pale Ale, a new Victory brew just introduced earlier this year, and decided to pop one open during the first game of the NLDS on Saturday between the Phillies and Cardinals. Lo and behold, just as the first drops hit my tastebuds, with the Phillies trailing the Cards 3-1, Ryan Howard launched a go-ahead 3-run home run off Kyle Lohse and the Phils didn’t look back from there. They went on to power their way to an 11-6 Game 1 victoryI’d say that’s worth opening another tonight, isn’t it Phillies fans?

The Headwaters won’t blow you away, but it’s a really solid, smooth Pale Ale that’s simply perfect for sipping during a baseball game.

If you’re into supporting the local Philadelphia community with your beer purchase, Headwaters Pale is a perfect choice as well. From the Victory blog:

When we named Headwaters Pale Ale last February, we did so to pay homage to the pure water we receive from the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek that begins its journey to us just under 14 miles from where we brew with it. Because of the important role water plays in the production of quality beer, we initiated The Headwaters Grant as a way to give back to the groups working hard to protect the natural resource.

Back in May, we awarded our very first Headwaters Grant to The Guardians of the Brandywine to fund their “My Creek” initiative. This outreach program aims to educate individuals and to encourage them to take ownership of clean water issues.

Now that’s worth a pour.

St. Louis Cardinals - Schlafly Beer (St. Louis, MO)

I’m no Cardinals fan, but I can appreciate a city that brews some damn fine beer, and from everything I’ve heard from folks in StL is that Schlafly’s is a winner. The Pale Ale seems to be a favorite, and I tip my cap to Cardinals beat writer Matthew H. Leach and Cards fan Andrew Moses for the recommendation. If I ever make it out to StL for a Cubs-Cardinals series I’ll be sure to try it.

But I haven’t featured a fall seasonal yet and I’ve been hearing a lot about their Pumpkin Ale, so I wanted to put the spotlight here on theirs.

Our Pumpkin Ale has a bold, big pumpkin taste, flavored with Pumpkin squash, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. It has a mild character, with little bitterness and a malty backbone, allowing the flavor of the Pumpkin squash and spices to take the lead.

Jake Koeeneman of iBrewToo had this to say:

Schlafly Pumpkin is a very divisive beer in the beer community. Most of the midwesterners that I know enjoy the beer because it tastes like the pumpkin pie that mom makes on cold fall evenings. The spices are right, the color is right, and at 8% it will keep you warm through the 60s/40s days. However, there is a large number of Craft Beer drinkers that dislike the entire style. Give it a try and see for yourself, but hurry, it is only on shelves September and October.

Mikwaukee Brewers - Lakefront Brewery (Milwaukee, WI)

Lakefront India Pale Ale is nearly the epitome of what an IPA is all about — citrusy, floral, mildly bitter. It’s very smooth, and a very good introduction if you are new to IPAs.

From the Lakefront website:

… well balanced with a full body and smooth malty flavor to back up the hops. It finishes smooth and crisp with a lingering hop flavor reminiscent of fresh ruby red grapefruit.

To pair with your postseason snacks, Lakefront says “try our IPA with Buffalo wings, blackened chicken or pepperoni pizza. Beef dishes or fried seafood can stand up to the hops as well. ”

And a fun fact about Lakewood that will make you feel good about purchasing their beer:

First brewery in the state and the first business in the City of Milwaukee to receive the Travel Green Wisconsin certification.  Travel Green Wisconsin recognizes tourism-related businesses that are reducing their environmental impact through operational and other improvements.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Four Peaks Brewery (Scottsdale, AZ)

OK, I’ll admit it. I’ve never had a beer local to Arizona. So I had to do a little research on this one. Four Peaks seems to be a popular brewery in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, and I thought I’d throw in something a little different with their Arizona Peach Ale for those of you who like your beer light and refreshing.

I’m not usually a fan of fruit-based beers, but I do like a few peach and apricot flavored ones, so I feel good about recommending this one, despite not having tried it myself. And as Four Peaks says on their website:

One sip and you’ll be basking in a beer wonderland where nubile goddesses feed you peaches under a warm summer sky.

Have you had any of these beers? Tell us what you’re drinking this postseason!

9 thoughts on “A Beer Drinker’s Guide to the 2011 MLB Postseason

  1. alexisb82 says:

    This was cool! My baseball team may be out of it (you can tell by the pile of Sam Adams Oktoberfest bottles in the recycling bin), but I always love learning about new brews.

  2. Megan Wells says:

    Loved seeing Founders on this list! They’re one of my favorite Midwest breweries. Might need to pick up a six-pack for the NYY @ DET games. Great article!

  3. Sarah Tyson says:

    Love this! So far I’ve only had my local Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale, but I’ll have to search out some of these other varieties.

    1. alexisb82 says:

      I’m a fan of Zane Lamprey of “Three Sheets” and now “Drinking Made Easy” fame. They had fans submit local places for them to film for the new season of DME. I recommended Cigar City Brewing and a few others, so they are going to be featured on the Tampa episode!

      I also like Tampa Bay Brewing Company.

  4. Dana Wagner says:

    Thanks everyone! I had a lot of fun writing this (and drinking as many of these as I could in the process).

  5. Dana – I live about 2 miles from Saint Arnold’s and go to events at their brewery all the time. I love your picks from them. Perfection whilst watching baseball! Lawnmower is one of my all time faves. Thanks for all the recs!

  6. Elise Myers says:

    I can’t wait to try some of these! Might need to crack open a celebratory Lakefront tonight… if I can first locate it!

  7. [...] the divisional round of the MLB playoffs began earlier this month, I posted a Beer Drinker’s Guide to the 2011 MLB Postseason, spotlighting a craft beer from each home state or city represented by a team in contention. For [...]

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