The Colorado Rockies are getting a breath of fresh air in center field this season – and that may have the rest of the outfield thinking about beer. Sometime later this spring, the grounds crew will add about a half-dozen hops plants to the bucolic flora that lies just below the green wall in Coors Field known as the batter's eye; the space already includes ivy, blue spruce trees and other Colorado plants, along with the home-run fountains.
“We'll put them in planters out there so we don't infest the area,” says John Legnard of the Blue Moon Brewing Company at the Sandlot, the small, Coors-owned brewery inside the stadium. Hops plants have a tendency to grow like weeds.
Legnard isn't sure yet which variety of hops will be planted, but he's hoping for Citra, Simcoe or Cascade. That's because he's using the same three in a beer he's brewing to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Coors Field. The hops from the outfield bines will be used to make a fresh-hopped version of the beer, meaning the whole hops cones will be added to the beer shortly after harvest to give it a brighter aroma and flavor.
They'll be picked in August or September, meaning the beer “should be ready in time for the World Series,” Legnard says.
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The Sandlot is the only brewery in the country located inside a Major League ballpark; it was the birthplace of Coors's popular Blue Moon beer in 1995, the same year that Coors Field opened for business, and now serves as an incubator for most of the other Blue Moon flavors.
A new one of those, Blue Moon White IPA, debuted on liquor-store shelves nationwide this week. will also be served on tap at the Sandlot during home games and during the limited taproom hours that the brewery keeps on non-game days this season.
“We wanted to find a way for Blue Moon to enter the hoppy beer category without just making another IPA,” says Legnard; Blue Moon White IPA is a Belgian-style wheat beer with extra hops added. “This gives people who like Blue Moon something new to try, and they're probably going to like it.”
The Sandlot will have a couple of other new beers on tap on April 10 — Opening Day — including Belgian golden strong ale and a Belgian strong amber, both brewed with Abbey yeasts. Legnard says the twentieth anniversary beer, which is a German-style altbier, will be very similar to the easy-drinking beer that the Sandlot made two years ago to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the team (which began playing in 1993, two years before the stadium was built).