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More Cincinnati beers at 2013 Reds games, please

A tweet from the local Great Lakes account really struck me Saturday morning.

“@GLBCinCincy: Wright Pils will be at craft stand at Great American ALL Season!!” Interestingly, it seems to have been deleted.

First, I thought this was great (and still do) because more quality craft beer is getting space on ballpark taps. I’m a big fan of Great Lakes, so this is a good thing to see a permanent option this season. But, then I started wondering why a CLEVELAND brewery was able to lock down this sweet deal. After all, our beloved Reds are rooted in Cincinnati’s heritage. Also rooted in Cincinnati’s heritage? Yep, local beer brewing.

I went through a range of emotions as I processed the situation. And yeah, I’m emotionally vested in the stadium and ballpark. I’m a life long fan and I married the love of my life on the GABP field. I have miraculously maintained membership in a group that splits a season ticket package of seats (front-row, right-centerfield) for nearly a decade. This is no easy feat with three kids under the age of 5. On more than one occasion, I’ve drug a pregnant wife and small children down there in oppressive heat just to watch a few innings. So, I feel like I have a partial ownership in the team and the ballpark experience.

The beer selection has certainly improved over the years. There is the craft stand behind the visitors bullpen, some great Ohio Brewing beers this past season at the Food Network stand, and some decent beers in the various club, box, and special seating areas.

However, I feel like a greater effort could be made to lend a hand to some of the hard working local breweries by bringing in some of their excellent beers to quench Cincinnati’s thirst. Don’t get me wrong, I know the Big Boys and their major sponsorship dollars aren’t going anywhere. And nor should they, as they serve a big chunk of the fan market. But, would it be awful to try rotating in a handful of kegs from our local community each game?

Bob Castellini has done an amazing job resurrecting the team and sinking his heart (and wallet) into creating an amazing sporting event experience on and off the field. Phil Castellini has been transforming GABP into a “real” big league ballpark by loading it with excellent food and drink menus, among other fun things. Both embrace the community by bringing in hometown favorites such as UDF, LaRosas, Skyline, Montgomery Inn, and more. These are local icons and are completely woven into the city’s cultural fabric. Our roots in brewing, as well as the recent brewing resurgence, is also a part of our fabric.

I am aware that Christian Moerlein is pretty well represented at the park. I was happy to find bottles of Mt. Carmel in the Champion’s Club last season. This represents some solid progress as these two breweries have been working diligently to build their beers over the years. I think it is time to build on that local foundation by purposely lending a hand to some of the others, such as: Listermann/Triple Digit, Great Crescent, Blank Slate, Fifty West, and the soon to be operational MadTree and Double Barrel.

In some early twitter responses from industry insiders, there seem to be some plausible suggestions why small locals haven’t been called up to The Show yet.

  • They can’t produce enough beer to meet the demand.
  • The Reds look to turn a profit and everyone pays to get a handle (out of the small guy’s price range).
  • Other logistical hurdles.

I’m certain I’m over simplifying the process of procuring and distributing draft beer 81+ times a year but I hope to at least raise some awareness about the situation. Perhaps I am naive, but I feel the Reds have a very strong tie to the Cincinnati community and might be willing to seriously explore the possibility of more local craft beer.

To be clear, I do not even remotely think the Reds organization is purposely or maliciously slighting the locals. Also, they aren’t alone as many parks appear to be missing out on some of their smaller local brands. However, I would like to get their attention to raise the issue. Please consider signing this petition and sharing it with others that may share the same feelings.

As usual, feel free to comment below or use some other method of communication to yell at me if I’m way off base.

Mike Stuart

Craft beer enthusiast and hombrew dabbler. Part-time writer, sometimes funny.

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