Thefirst organized baseball game is believed to have been played in Hoboken onJune 1, 1846, so it stands to reason that the first beer enjoyed at a ballgamehappened right around June 1, 1846 as well.
Indeed,baseball and beer—bad hops and good hops–have a long and loving relationship.My earliest memory of the two intermingled was at Shea Stadium, when I was eyelevel to the turnstile. Seconds before measuring myself against that steely foe,I saw a feat of ingenuity that has stayed with me for decades: A few cases ofbeer, trussed up like a shipwreck diver’s booty, hoisted from one scraggly guyat street level to his friends, who pulled the rope while hanging over thoseold Shea ramps, a hundred feet above. Based on the way the Mets played thatday, the cases of Meister Brau may have been for the players.
Baseballis on the brain in the Captain Lawrence tasting room a few days before OpeningDay proper. There are scores of Yankee fans, of course, expecting nothing lessthan the annual late October showdown, while appreciating what might be MarianoRivera’s last hurrah. There are some diehard Met fans, hoping for a pleasantsurprise. “Madoff’s gone,” says Kevin Raum of Valhalla. “I’m optimistic.”
There’sa Phillie fan, and even a few Red Sox rooters. (Keep in mind, the Red Sox’historic collapse last fall was a rare example of beer and baseball not going together well.) Jessica Young,a Vermont native visiting the tasting room from her home in Harlem, has the Bostonbaseball mindset pegged. “They’ll make us think they’re doing well,” she says.“They won’t.”
The wetweather has brought Kevin Raum and his buddies to the tasting room. Theirsoftball team—it’s called the Amazin’s, if you’re scoring at home—was topractice in Hawthorne, but ended up hitting the batting cages at Sportime USA.As they could practically smell the hops wafting up Rte. 9A from the brewery, theAmazin’s’ spring training was cut short.
MikeForde of Valhalla sheds a little light on why baseball and beer go so damn welltogether. “You’re outside for three or four hours, it’s a 70 degree day,” hesays. “It’s like a barbecue and beer—baseball and beer just go hand in hand.”
Othersoffer up a variety of reasons. The peanuts and Cracker Jacks, as immortalizedin our national pastime’s national anthem, practically beg for a tasty brew. Thepace–or lack thereof, to those who simply don’t get baseball–of the game. Andas baseball is a kissing cousin of softball, the rare sport you can actuallyplay with a beer in your hand, softball’s social tendencies carry over to its morehardcore sibling.
Jessica,husband Tim and baby Riley are enjoying, respectively, a Kolsh, a Family Meal,and milk. She offers a novel reason for ordering up a ballpark brew: “It’s somuch fun to hail the beer vendor.”
RyanCollins of Valhalla and Chris Pozzi of Yorktown Heights had the routine downfor years—at least until advanced adulthood kicked in: Stock up on CaptainLawrence growlers at the old Pleasantville site on Saturday, and show up earlyat Yankee Stadium Sunday. They’d enjoy burgers, marinated steak, and barbecuechicken, along with Freshchester Pale Ale and Brown Ale (“It’s a long day ifyou start with Imperial IPA,” says Collins), with 30 of their best buds.
“We’d savethe crappy domestic beer for after the game,” says Collins.
Whilefew in the room disputed the baseball-beer bond, some felt that excellent beergoes well with most any activity. “There’s no event that beer can’t participatein,” says Kerry Walsh of Pearl River with a smile.
“Ifthere’s beer there,” Walsh quips, “I’d probably go.”
Captain Lawrence isopen Tuesday through Friday (retail 2-7 p.m., and samples 4-7 p.m.); andSaturday, with retail and samples 12-6 p.m., and brewery tours at 1, 2 and 3p.m.
The author is paid byCaptain Lawrence, partially in beer, for “Notes From the Tasting Room.”