There is either some divine intervention working for the new Left Field Brewery or the brewery is also part of Alex Anthopolous’ master plan to become the most beloved man in Toronto. Launching in the spring with the start of a new baseball season was likely a planned move, but Left Field has also been lucky that baseball is once again big news in Toronto thanks to the recent offseason trades by the Blue Jays. Add this to the fact that craft beer is gaining in popularity at an incredible rate and you’ve got a formula for some early success.
I’ve already spent some time talking about craft beer and baseball, but it also occurred to me that one can make a comparison between the fans of baseball and craft beer. Drinkers of craft beer and watchers of baseball used to stereotypically thought of as the same rough demographic – old white dudes (possibly bearded). Things have been changing recently as younger fans get drawn in, either by new and exciting beer styles or, in the case of baseball, Bill James and new metrics. Of course, there has always been a crossover between watching sports and drinking beer and baseball has always been thought of That Sport Fat People Can Play (see: Wells, David; Fielder, Cecil; Fielder, Prince; any Men’s softball league). Let’s not forget that beer was an integral part of the collapse the Red Sox experienced in 2011. It is this intersection that Left Field should comfortably occupy.
Left Field will be starting out with three beers: 6-4-3 Double IPA (the ‘P’ could stands for Play in my mind), Maris* (an American Pale Ale named after Roger Maris and brewed with mostly Maris Otter malt) and the Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale (currently on tap at better beer bars in Toronto). The Eephus pitch is a pretty rare one is baseball, a low speed pitch designed to catch the hitter off-guard. Left Field was kind enough to supply me a sample bottle of the Eephus to review and while it may not catch anyone by surprise, it’s definitely not a junk pitch.
The Eephus pours a medium-t0-dark brown with a strong ruby character and clear body. A small head forms, a shade lighter than a cappuccino, and leaves lacing as it settles down. The toasted grains come out first from the aroma with an undertone of wet earth, followed by dark cherries and toffee after a quick swirl. The malts come out first with flavours of toast, almonds, molasses and a small amount of cherry. This is followed by a big blast of earthy hops, cutting the sweetness from the malts. At 35 IBU it is not a very bitter beer, but dry enough to eliminate the residual sugars from the palate and encourage the next sip. A green hop character comes through in the aftertaste. The oatmeal definitely adds a lot of weight to the body, making this feel like a bigger beer than 5.5%. A really nice beer for those cool outdoor nights in early spring or a long playoff push in the fall.
Left Field is currently running as a contract operation out of the Grand River brewery. All three beers will be available at their Home Opener party happening at 3030 Dundas St West on Friday, April 5th. I know some people don’t care at all about branding, but it just has to be said that everything from Left Field (bottle labels, glasses, tap handles, website design) looks gorgeous and all makes sense as a cohesive whole. The Left Field Brewery is definitely a hot prospect that is having a promising start to their major league career.