Apr 7, 2012

Beer and Baseball, Spring is here!

Heading into Chase Field
Its official, spring is here! I know, the official start of spring this year was March 20th, and I would argue, us folks here in Arizona have been enjoying spring like weather since about mid January. However, there is one event that to me, says spring is here, and that my friends, is Opening Day! My mother and I have somewhat of a tradition of attending the Dbacks home opener at Chase Field every year. This year was no different, and market about our 6th or 7th home opener together. We always go with my moms friend Andrea, and sometimes here husband Rich, and for the last few years, my wife, Mrs. Czar has joined us.
Now, all my life, I have loved baseball. starting in the "farm league", up through Little League, Babe Ruth League, and High School, I played as many seasons as the short Maine spring and summer would allow. Once I discover beer, well, the two are just a natural fit. Sitting in the stands, with a hot dog, a beer, watching the greatest game on the planet is one of life's all time joys.
So yesterday, my wife and I took the day off from work, and after spending an ungodly amount of time at the Arizona DMV (that's a whole other story) we dropped our little munchkin off with her grandfather, and made our way to downtown Phoenix, to Chase Field to watch the Dbacks take on the conference rivals San Fransisco Giants.

The Fly Over
We got there plenty early to see all the opening day ceremonies. They handed out the Gold Glove award to Gerardo Parra, and the Silver Slugger Award to to Right Fielder Justin Upton and Pitcher Daniel Hudson. They also handed out the Manger of the Year Award to our beloved Manager Kirk Gibson, for taking the team from the cellar the year before, to first place in his first full season as manager. He also became only the 4th person to win an MPV Award, and a Manager of the Year (Frank Robinson, Joe Torre and Don Baylor were the others). Then we got to see them unveil the 2011 National League Champion flag in the outfield, to go with their 5 others (not bad for a club less then 15 years old). After team introductions and the National Anthem, and a fly over of F-16's from nearby Luke AFB, it was time for the game to start.

Ian Kennedy
Tim Lincecum
The nice thing about Opening Day is you always get to see two aces take each other one, which is always a treat. We were treated Ian Kennedy going up against "The Freak" Tim Lincecum, two pitchers in the top 5 vote getters for last years Cy Young Award. We didn't have to wait long for some fireworks either! After a 1,2,3 inning from Kennedy, Lincecum struggled in the first, allowing 4 hits (two of them homers by Chris Young and Paul Goldschmidt). We were also treated to a 2 rub double by "Tatman" Ryan Roberts (fast becoming one of my, and a lot of other fans favorite Dback). We then had the pleasure of watching JJ Putz rousing entrance to the 9th inning while AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" echoed throughout the ball park, accompanied by lighting bolts on all the LCD screens, and sharp thunderclaps over the P/A. I must say, with the exception of Jon Papelbon's entrance to Drop Kick Murphy's "Shipping Out to Boston" it was one of the better closer entrances I've seen! Putz was able to to close out the game and giving the Dbacks their first win of the 2012 season, only 161 more games to go (and lets hope there are a few more after the regular season)

My Cambleback IPA
 Now, this being a beer blog, and this being a post about baseball, its easy to tie beer into this topic. Chase Field actually has a pretty decent (albeit EXPENSIVE) selection of some pretty good craft beers. Arizona's new brewery The Phoenix Ale Brewery has their two flagship beers available, their Fretzy's Unfiltered Ale (which I've yet to try) and their Cambleback IPA, which I tried for the first time while there. It was a pretty good. If I didn't see IPA on the label, I would have guessed this was a pale ale. Decent hoppiness, but not what you would expect from an IPA. More of a balanced maltiness, like a pale ale. Good, not great, but for a ball park beer, it was quite enjoyable.
So, let spring begin! Baseball is year, and soon we will be well into summer, so, lets take this wonderful few weeks or warm days, chilly nights, and enjoy the crack of the bat, and roar of the crowed with a few cold brews. Spring doesn't last long, so make the most of it!

A few spring beers I would suggest....

Sam Adams Alpine Springs. Listed as a Keller Bier, this beer has a very clean, crisp flavor with some hints of lemon. Lots of carbonation as well. Its easy to find, and I've seen it in most grocery stores, making this an enjoyable, refreshing beer to enjoy at a spring BBQ on the back patio! I can see myself drinking this beer well into summer!

Bruery Saison de Lente from The Bruery. This is sort of a unique beer for spring. I will warn you, its brewed with the wild yeast (and vintner nemesis)  Brettanomyces, which gives it that funky Belgian sour taste, that I've come to really enjoy, but turns off a lot of folks that aren't expecting it. This beer has a sort of grassy flavor that just totally reminds me of spring, and the smell of the ball field. If you can find it, its a great beer to enjoy all spring, and into summer.

New Belgium Brewery's "Dig" This one surprised me. I've been a fan of New Belgium since a graduation party from college in which my dear friend brought me a bottle of this great new beer that no one had heard of called "Fat Tire". Been a beer geek ever since. This offering from them is quite nice. A lemon flavor, with some fruity notes I couldn't quite place (peach maybe?) . This is a very light beer, and if you insist on strong, heavy, high ABV beers, you won't like this. However, if you like a lighter, crisper, mild yet somewhat flavorful beer, this one quite nice. This might be a good "intro" or crossover beer for your Bud Light friends as well.


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