2018. A new year. A new season filled with new adventures.
This is the third year of the Beer Baseball Blog and it’s been one of transition. I have had a lot of thoughts about how I can take this to the next level and most of them involve doing video blogging. But, for now, I am going to keep true to writing the blog entries every week for this year and experiment with video periodically during the year. I look forward to sharing my baseball and craft beer adventures. Here we go!!
Monday, April 2, 2018 – Indians vs. Angels & Backstreet Brewery
There’s nothing like Opening Day. Every team starts fresh with a 0-0 record.
This is my second consecutive Opening Day in Anaheim but much different than last year. Why? Well because of a 23-year-old from Japan who was now on the Angels. Shohei Ohtani, whom some have compared to modern-day Babe Ruth due to the fact he pitches and is a tremendous batter. The Angels a paid $20M “posting” fee to the Nippon-Ham Fighters for the opportunity to sign him to a MLB contract for this year. Obviously, he has a lot to live up to.
But alas, Ohtani was not stellar in his first ever Spring Training. In fact, he was awful statistically. There were even rumblings that he would start in the minor leagues to get “polished” enough to play in the big leagues. You see the Nippon Professional Baseball league has always been seen as one less superior, talent-wise, to Major League Baseball. There have been many Japanese players in MLB, but few have dominated.
But this was the 6 foot 5 inch tall phenom that had a 100 mph fastball, a splitter, a slider, and (oh yeah) could crush 400-foot homers. The Angels have so much invested in him, he almost had to make the roster no matter what.
And make it he did, proving that Spring Training is simply a tune-up for the season and (maybe) shouldn’t be seen as much more than that. On March 29th in Oakland, he got his first MLB hit on the first pitch he saw. And two days later he pitched 6 innings against the Athletics, striking out 6 and gaining his first win in a 7-4 win.
Pre-Game at Backstreet Brewery (1884 S Santa Cruz St., Anaheim, CA 92805 – MAP)
As has become a ritual, before Angels games on Mondays, my Beer Baseball Blog Field Correspondent Kevin Lyon and I would go to Backstreet for three reasons. 1) Great Craft Beer 2) Literally walking distance from Angels Stadium 3) $3 drafts on Mondays.
Backstreet Brewing has existed since 1998 now has 3 total locations in Vista, Irvine, and Anaheim. Their overall selection is very good and the pre-game vibe is low-key and relaxing.
I tried the ‘Blood Orange Animation IPA’ (6.5% ABV) and a 10-ounce tulip of the ‘Raspberry Sour’ Berliner Weisse (4% ABV, 25 IBU). Both were excellent and definitely worth trying. Both being fruit beers, they were tasty without being overpowering. The IPA was more single in taste but could have passed easily for a double.
Here is a more comprehensive look at Backstreet’s current selection (as of April 2018):
Blood Orange Animation IPA – American IPA – 6.5% ABV – Animation IPA infused with Blood Orange
Tomahawk Double IPA – Imperial / Double – 9.2% ABV – 105 IBU – Dry hopped with Mosaic, Wakatu and Waimea hops
Lonely Mountain English Pale Ale – Pale Ale / English – 5.9% ABV – 48 IBU
Rydin’ Dirty IPA – American IPA 7% ABV
Animation IPA – American IPA – 6.5% ABV – Single hopped Mosaic IPA, not very bitter with a tropical aroma
Late To the Party Citra IPA – American IPA – 6.5% ABV – 42 IBU – This beer is a single hopped IPA made with Citra hops. This beer is unique because they did only late addition hops and no bittering hops (hence the name “Late To The Party”), so the aroma is intense with virtually no bitterness
When the Saints Go Marzen In – Märzen – 6.5% ABV – 42 IBU.
Jagged Lil Pils – Pilsner – 5.3% ABV
Mango Habanero Hefeweizen – Hefeweizen – 5% ABV – 13 IBU
Heritage Hefeweizen – Hefeweizen – 5% ABV – 13 IBU – Unfiltered American style wheat beer, brewed with 40% wheat malt and coming in at 5% ABV. Ale was used yeast versus a traditional Belgian style yeast to stay away from the strong banana clove flavors to appeal to a wider variety of taste pallets
Raspberry Sour – Sour / Berliner Weisse – 4% – 3 IBU
Holy Shizz – Red Ale – Imperial / Double – 10.2% ABV
Rita Red – Red Ale – American Amber / Red – 6.5% ABV
Udder From Anudder Mudder – Stout – Milk / Sweet – 6.5% ABV – 33 IBU
Straight Stoutta Anaheim (Nitro) – Stout – Imperial / Double – 10% ABV – An Imperial Stout made with locally sourced cold brewed coffee, served on nitro
Pints range between $5-6 and every Friday get $5 off all growlers.
The Opening Day Game:
The game. Oh yeah, there was a game. And it was less than stellar. Aside from an Edward Encarnacion inside-the-park home run, there was nothing really to write home about in this one. The Indians won 6-0 and Shohei Ohtani didn’t play, a night after his first pitching start.
But Ohtani would play the next night. And oh boy, it was something to behold.
Tuesday, April 3, 2018 – Indians vs. Angels & Noble Ale Works
This time Ohtani was starting as the designated hitter. And this game had a totally different feel to it.
Ohtani, after causing some to speculate if he was MLB level talent, proved he is a man of firsts. As mentioned earlier, he got his first hit on the first pitch and first win in his first start. So what first would he accomplish tonight?
How about his first MLB home run in his first home at-bat!! Yep. A three-run, 2-out homer to right-centerfield in the second inning. It was a majestic blast and we all went ballistic for it. My buddy Kevin even lost his voice screaming. This guy was clearly pacing himself in Spring Training.
It was one of those incredible baseball moments that you can’t believe you witnessed. And you then start to think. This is ONLY the first week of the season. There are still six months to go!!
After the Ohtani home run, we got food at the ‘The Change-Up Kitchen’ in Section 226 to enjoy the Shohei Ohtani “Player Inspired Menu” of Pork Katsu and a Sapporo Beer. Really like what they are doing here with this promotion as each month they do a 3-item selection with a different player. Mike Trout (Philadelphia Cuisine). Albert Pujols (Latin Cuisine). Etc.
Ohtani would get 2 more hits tonight as he would go 3 for 4 in an 11-2 Angels win. What is totally overshadowed here is the Indians got only one hit in the game. Really incredible and one we’ll talk about for many more years.
After the game, it was off to one of Beer Baseball Blog’s favorite pre-and-post-game spots. Noble Ale Works.
Post-Game at Noble Ale Works (1621 S Sinclair St, Anaheim, CA, 92806 – MAP)
If you are going to an Angels (or Ducks hockey) game, then Noble Ale Works is a MUST visit if you are a Craft Beer fanatic. No two ways about it.
Located in an industrial area just north of Angel Stadium, Noble has an incredible selection of distinctive beers. Here are the most current (as of April 2018):
Yes! Yes! Yes! –IPA – New England – 6.7% ABV – Mega charged with huge additions of Denali, Citra, and Simcoe
Big Whig IPA – American IPA – 6.8% ABV – West Coast style ale hits the palate with layers of tangerine, honey, and rosemary
Aim For the Netses! – American (Hockey) IPA – 7.9% ABV – Shot of a classic IPA loaded with Citra, Chinook, Ekuanot, Motueka, and Centennial
Aim For the Fences! – American (Baseball) IPA – 7.9% ABV – Shot of a classic IPA loaded with Amarillo, El Dorado, Centennial
Tongue Tickles – Double IPA – 8% ABV – Features a generous amount of Galaxy, Citra, & Simcoe hops, BURSTING with layers of stone fruit, bright citrus, and pineapple
Irish I Was A Little Bit Taller – Red Ale – Irish – 4.8% ABV – Medium-bodied, red in color, with super delicious notes of fresh biscuits and caramel
Man’s Milk (Nitro) – Stout – Milk / Sweet – 6.1% ABV – Classic Milk Stout is served on nitro, black in color, full-bodied with flavorful layers of Count Chocula milk and caramel sundae
Samoa. The Beer – Stout – 10.5% ABV – Samoa Cookie Stout
Whoomp! There It Is – Stout – Imperial / Double – 13.4% ABV – Imperial Stout brewed with Barrel Aged Coffee beans
Naughty Sauce (Nitro) – Stout – Milk / Sweet – 5.4% ABV –stout beer made with oats and milk sugar, coffee instead of roasted grain and then pumped full of nitrogen in order to add even more creaminess
What a beginning to the season. Can’t wait to share more of my adventures of beer and baseball. Thanks for reading.