We love baseball. We love beer. In honor of the Major League Baseball playoffs, we thought we’d do something a little bit different. Just as every baseball team has a distinct personality, so does every beer. We put our heads together to come up with the perfect beer to represent each playoff team. Then, since we completely disagreed about every single one, we decided to do it this way instead.
Pete: Shiner Bock, Spoetzl Brewery. This beer is consistent. It has been the beer of choice for many of the barbecue locations in DC, I always order it and it is always good. Goes great with smoked meat and is always better than I expected it to be. That’s the Texas Rangers in a nutshell. It has been a while since they were a basement dwelling team. Yes, they have not won the World Series, but they have been a consistent team for a long time now. They have lost their best pitcher and hitter to a division rival, and still managed to be productive and competitive. Just like Shiner bock. It’s never going to be the best beer in the world, but damn if it isn’t a consistent drinkable beer that goes great with everything.
York: Ranger, New Belgium Brewing Company. Aside from the obvious shared name, New Belgium fits the rangers in a bunch of different respects. The one that really makes me correlate the two is how New Belgium is constantly doing collaborations, sharing barrels and experimenting to find the perfect lineup. The Rangers have been consistently contending for years because of that same mindset. One of the most active teams in terms of roster changes this year, the Rangers have mixed homegrown talent with signings of big names either for the bats or their attitudes. New Belgium is proud to collaborate and has their hands in all sorts of styles these days as a result. The Rangers look for pieces that fit at the time that works best and it doesn’t matter if they’re expensive, old, young, from a rival, or anything else as long as it pushes them in the right direction.
Shane: Old Man, Southern Tier Brewing. I was actually going to say Shiner Bock for much the same reason as Pete, but he beat me to it. Instead, I’ll go with Old Man, a rich, dark, winter ale from Southern Tier. Southern Tier is a brewery that I have never been disappointed with. Their standard offerings are great, and their special offerings are better. But sometimes it seems like, thanks to their location in remote western New York, they don’t quite get the respect or attention they deserve. The Rangers are very much the same. This is a team that is in the thick of the playoff hunt year in and year out, but never seems to get any attention. Obviously Texas is far from remote, but the coastal bias of the baseball press seems to take its toll. So today I’m going to give them both some love. Why did I specifically choose Old Man? Well, just take one look at the core of this team. Cole Hamels, Adrian Beltre, Ian Desmond, and Carlos Beltran are aging superstars, and Carlos Gomez, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, and Jonathan Lucroy aren’t exactly spring chickens themselves. Sure, there are young guns like Rougned Odor and...actually, pretty much just Odor. I think the average age on this team is 50.
Toronto Blue Jays
York: It’s Complicated Being A Wizard, Burlington Beer Company. The Blue Jays constantly find themselves in a tough spot. That spot being the AL East. In terms of following, the Jays certainly take a seat below the Sox, Yankees, and probably the Orioles. Similarly, Burlington Beer is brewing in a region with craft beer MAMMOTHS like The Alchemist, Hill Farmstead, Lawson’s, and all the other amazing beer coming out of Vermont. Nonetheless, Burlington embraces this and stays true to their own style in branding, brewing and venue. I went with Burlington’s Double IPA to honor the towering home runs the Jays seem to hit nightly. Neither the Jays nor Burlington are trying to disguise themselves as their opponents and by forging their own way have made it to the respective tops of their games!
Pete: Habanero Sculpin, Ballast Point. This Blue Jays team is all over the place. They have a ton of great power hitters, decent pitching, and the ability to flame out and shoot themselves in the foot. That pretty much sums up Habanero Sculpin. Such a good base beer, hoppy, refreshing, citrusy, not too overwhelming. But it has some fire in it that can ruin your day. The first time I sampled it (SAMPLED), I spent the next day on the toilet as though I had consumed a dozen super spicy buffalo wings. This team has a lot of potential, some good parts, but there is just a little too much fire in it for me to stomach. They are matched up with a Texas team that has shown they can get under their skin and that does not bode well for the Blue Jays. Maybe a little too much habanero for them to be able to win it all this year.
Shane: D.H. IPA, Henniker Brewing Company. Henniker is a brewery mostly known to those in the northeast, so it might seem weird to assign them to a team based in Toronto. But in this case, it just seems to fit. The Blue Jays are absolutely LOADED with players who seem destined for the DH position someday. Encarnacion. Bautista. Tulowitzki. Hell, maybe even Donaldson. So this designated hitter-themed beer just seems right. What’s more, this beer is strong. It’s intense. It has POWER, just like the Blue Jays lineup. I’m a Red Sox fan, and the idea of getting into a playoff slugfest with the Blue Jays both excites me and gives me nightmares. Clocking in at a respectable 8.5% ABV, Henniker’s D.H. IPA should both scare and excite you, too.
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