The Colorado Rockies are back at Coors Field starting today, and fans are hoping the boys of summer will return to the same form as last season, when they made it to the playoffs. There will be another return to form this year, though, taking place in the basement of the ballpark, where the brewers at The Sandlot ply their trade.
"We're taking the taproom back," jokes Tom Hail, who has worked at the Sandlot for more than twenty years.
What he means is that the brewery will no longer produce the many Blue Moon specialty beers that it had been brewing for the previous decade at the behest of the Coors-owned subsidiary. Although the famous Belgian wit beer got its start at the Sandlot — as Belly Slide Wit — most of Blue Moon's specialty beers are now brewed at Blue Moon's River North location, which opened in 2016 (the flagship beers are made at Coors plants).
Instead, the Sandlot will go back to making the German-style lagers that were once the house specialty, along with some other old favorites and new recipes. On Opening Day, those beers will include the Rockies' 25th Anniversary Vienna Lager, Where the Helles Bill, Smalls Pils, Naptime Stout and Wicked Hop IPA. Baseball fans will also be able to get Rightfield Red, one of the original beers the Sandlot made in 1995.
And for the first time, some of those beers will be available at the Rooftop bar, Hail says.
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The change means that the Sandlot may also be able to get back to its award-winning ways. Between 1995 and 2014, the Sandlot won 43 medals — most for German-style lagers, many with weird names — at the Great American Beer Festival before being shut out in 2015 and 2016. But in 2017, the Sandlot came roaring back with So Long and Thanks for All the (Smoked) Fish, which won a medal in the smoked-beer category. Including new recipes and old favorites, Hail and fellow brewer Mike Miller make about 1,500 barrels of beer per year.
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 and cement are still there, including parts of the warehouse loading dock.