The Blue Moon Brewing Company @ the Sandlot has been Denver's most unusual brewery since it debuted inside Coors field in 1995. Only open to the public during baseball season, and only to Rockies ticket holders during games, the brewery actually runs year-round, making Blue Moon and other seasonal beers and pumping out specialty house beers for ski resorts like Vail, Winter Park and Mary Jane.
Blue Moon was invented here. So was Harvest Pumpkin and many of the other craft-style beers that the Tenth and Blake division of MillerCoors sells nationwide. But the four guys who work here spend most of their time making one-off beers for baseball fans to drink on site during the Rockies season. So, as we head into the final few weeks of the Rockies season, here are five things about the Sandlot (not including the ghost that haunts it, but I'm not going there) that you probably didn't know.
The Sandlot is located on the first floor and in the basement of an old warehouse at 2145 Blake Street that was restored and incorporated into the architecture of Coors Field in 1995. The five-story brick building, built in 1913, was called the Banker's Warehouse and housed the Student Movers company from 1974 until 1993. Much of the original brick brick and cement are still there, including parts of the original loading dock.
The brewery itself is owned by MillerCoors, but the restaurant portion is run by Coors Field food-services provider, Aramark (although this isn't noticeable to visitors), and that was the case when it opened as well, although the restaurant was then called Rounders. Some of the Sandlot's first beers were called Squeeze Play Wheat; Power Alley Extra Special Bitter, Rightfield Red Ale, Slugger Stout and Bellyside Belgian White. Righfield Red is still on tap (it's the Todd Helton of our beers," says brewer John Legnard), while Bellyslide Belgian White later became Blue Moon, one of the Coors company's most unusual successes. A lot of the work actually happens in the basement area.
Kegs of Blue Moon are brewed in tiny batches here to the same specifications as they are in the massive plant in Golden. While any extra kegs produced at the Sandlot are combined with those made at MillerCoors, certain unnamed accounts in Denver ask specifically for the ones brewed in the Sandlot because they believe they are fresher.
In the fifteen years since it was founded, the Sandlot has won an astounding 36 medals at the Great American Beer Festival. The brewery plans to enter eight to ten of its, uh, playfully-named beers this year, including: Most Beer Judges are Boneheads; Yep, Still Boneheads; Goat Rancher; and Not Quite World Class; Clueless Beer Writer; Where the Helles Bill?; and Second Hand Smoke.
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The beautiful copper-clad brewhouse and fermenters that baseball fans see through the glass in the Sandlot are actually made of stainless steel that has been plated with. The copper is just for looks -- and, as Legnard says, "is a pain to keep clean."