Friday is opening day at Coors Field, and that means the return of Colorado's most unusual brewery, the Blue Moon Brewing Company @ the Sandlot.
Open only during Colorado Rockies home games and only during baseball season, the Sandlot is celebrating its sixteenth year of serving baseball-themed beers like Right Field Red, which is the only brew that's been a starter all sixteen years.
"It's like the Todd Helton of beers," says Sandlot brewer John Legnard.
The Sandlot will kick off the 2011 season with two new brews: a dark German wheat beer called Wild Pitch Dunkelweiss, a double-chocolate stout made with Belgian chocolate powder and then dry-aged with cocoa nibs.
"It's a heavier beer for the cooler weather in April. Stouts don't usually sell well in the heat," Legnard says. Of course, the temperature on Friday is supposed to be in the balmy 70s. "But Mother Nature might place an April Fool's Day joke on us and dump a foot of snow here," he adds.
No matter what the weather brings, opening day will be busy -- and Fridays, in particular, are "always a hit with the beer-drinking crowd," Legnard says. But spring is actually a slower season for the brewery, which spends the winter making contract brews for Winter Park, Mary Jane, Copper Mountain, Vail and other ski resorts.
"We'll be in mid-season form on opening day," he jokes.
But the baseball off-season was also notable for the Sandlot because it brewed its 3,000th batch of beer (3,000 hits would put a Major Leaguer in the Hall of Fame, Legnard points out), since being founded in 1995. The brew is a barely wine that weighs in at around 10 percent alcohol by volume.
"It's still sitting in a tank," Legnard says, adding that it's been aging there for about three months. "But I just don't feel comfortable selling that to baseball fans."
Instead, he'll probably send that one over to the Falling Rock Tap House sometime later this season, where it won't be as likely to make anyone pass out by the second inning.
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The brewpub, owned by MillerCoors, is the birthplace of Blue Moon, which has become the mega-brewery's most successful venture into the craft brewing realm: Blue Moon which made news last summer, is now distributed nationally in bottles and cans.
And it has spawned a lineup of other Moon beers, like Pale Moon, Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale and Blue Moon Spring Blonde Wheat Ale.