Mark Grant, the veteran Padres broadcaster and court jester, offered his verdict on the Padres’ official craft beer.
“This reminds me of the Petco Park infield,” he said, taking a sip of Swingin’ Friar Ale. “Barley any bad hops! No bad hops!”
Brewed by Ballast Point, Swingin’ Friar is the team’s first branded beer. The idea, explained Padres president of business operations Erik Greupner, was to offer fans something refreshing for the team’s 50th anniversary: an official Padres craft beer.
“We’re excited,” he said during Monday’s preview of the beer at Ballast Point’s Miramar headquarters. “We think it’s going to be a big hit.”
Baseball and beer are traditional partners, while Petco Park is already known for its extensive craft beer offerings. Moreover, this is not the first beer with an explicit link to San Diego’s major league baseball team: AleSmith’s .394, a liquid homage to Padres legend Tony Gwynn’s 1994 batting average, will mark its fifth anniversary this spring.
Both.394 (6 percent alcohol by volume) and Swingin’ Friar (5.5 percent are hop-forward pale ales. Friar is unique among Ballast Point’s packaged beers, in that it’s a SMASH beer, brewed with a single malt (two row) and single hop (Simcoe). The light body, restrained hop bitterness and not overpowering level of alcohol were all meant to make Friar an appealing choice during hot summer afternoon games.
“Light and refreshing was the name of the game,” said James Murray, Ballast Point’s vice president of brewing.
Across the country, multinational mega-breweries have strong ties to local sports franchises. The Padres are no exception.
“We’ve got a partnership with Anheuser-Busch that we highly value,” Greupner said. “But we feel like there’s a pretty broad offering on the lighter side.”
Besides, Greupner said, San Diego is known for craft beer rather than light-bodied American and Mexican lagers. When the team approached Ballast Point last year, the goal was to devise a beer that would please craft aficionados and fans accustomed to Corona or Bud Light.
“We think we hit the sweet spot here,” Greupner said.
Swingin’ Friar Ale will debut March 28, Opening Day, at Petco Park. The beer will be sold in bottles and on tap throughout the county.
The pale ale has already won over at least one fan. “I have to be honest,” Mark Grant said. “I don’t like this beer. I love it!”