While nobody was really paying any attention when Dodgers officially opened the 2014 baseball season last week in an antipodean exhibition in Australia, Sunday marks the official start of baseball!
Baseball and beer go together just as well as peanuts and Cracker Jack, but not every craft beer style is well suited to sitting back on the couch for a few hours watching men in pajamas toss a ball around. There's no denying that it's a long game with a relaxed pace; if you start sipping double IPAs for first pitch, you are going to be napping by the 7th inning stretch. Plus, if you're watching the game from the comfort of home (assuming you have Time Warner Cable), you can enjoy a few brews for the price of one large beer at the stadium.
There's a simple key to picking a great baseball beer: drinkability. Not just a marketing term invented by the big brewers last century, drinkability is a vague description for a beer that will not fatigue the palate. For me, drinkability is a bit like obscenity -- tough to put into words, but I know it when i see (taste it). You know you've got a highly drinkable beer when you reach for the glass and it's unexpectedly empty (and you're sad about it.) In the wonderful primer for all-things-beer "Tasting Beer," author Randy Mosher explains the slippery term perfectly:
"There is something quite remarkable about a beer of ordinary strength [around 4-5% ABV] with enough personality and depth to keep you interested, but with enough subtlety to keep you charmed right to the bottom of the third pint."
There is no shortage of flavorful, locally brewed craft beers that are high in the drinkability quotient. Here are three local brews that should be easy to find at supermarkets or most liquor store that are perfect to pair with the return of baseball.
Angel City Brewing - Gold Line Pilsner
Pilsner is a classic baseball beer, and this crisp, dry example is new to bottles. Gold Line was under development for many months at the downtown brewery, and the official launch of the new beer is on Monday (but we've already seen it for sale around town).
Hangar 24 Brewery - Helles Lager
The helles style was developed in Munich in the 19th century as a direct response to the huge popularity of the golden pilsners from Bohemia. Helles is a little more malty and a little sweeter than pilsners, and Hangar 24's example is simply one of the best craft brewed examples around.
El Segundo Brewing Co. - Blue House Citra Pale
While the macro breweries have been increasing drinkability by minimizing hop flavors for decades, it is still possible to have a highly drinkable, hoppy brew as El Segundo Brewing Co. demonstrates. Best known for their double IPAs, their flagship Blue House Citra Pale is a light-bodied pale ale with huge citrusy hop aroma but unobtrusive bitterness. And starting this season, the beer will (fittingly) be available at Dodger Stadium's craft-focused "Think Blue Bars".