The relationship between beer and baseball is older than the infield fly rule. When the upstart American Association started challenging the National League in 1882, stodgy owners condescendingly called it the “beer and whiskey league” because they didn’t join the senior circuit in banning alcohol at their fields. Today’s stadiums have a slightly more relaxed policy towards alcohol, which is good because San Diegans love their beer almost as much as they love their Padres. Those two passions came together on Saturday when AleSmith released San Diego Pale Ale 394.
No beer tribute to San Diego baseball could be done without involving Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn. After taking Gwynn’s favorite beer styles into consideration, Peter Zien and crew began crafting a hoppy pale ale that serves as a bridge between AleSmith X Extra Pale Ale and AleSmith IPA. The name is a tribute to Gwynn’s highest single season batting average, which he achieved in 1994.
San Diego Pale Ale 394’s golden color lives in the seams between the orange and yellow Padres uniform colors of the early 1980’s. Pine and citrus notes dominate the aroma of this beer, and the flavor has much of the same characteristics. While there’s plenty of aroma and flavor from the hops, the malt balances out the bitterness to make this beer very drinkable, and the alcohol content is a manageable 6%.
For the release party, AleSmith’s Miramar tasting room transformed into a baseball fan cave, complete with Padres logos and a Tony Gwynn Fathead. Ballpark fare like peanuts, Cracker Jack and sausages from the HG Sausage Truck provided nourishment as everyone sampled the new brew. As the beer flowed, attendees entertained themselves by testing their pitching skills against a radar gun and participating in raffles for Tony Gwynn autographed swag.
Saturday’s release party is just the beginning for San Diego Pale Ale 394. While the beer is currently only available on draft, future plans include bottling and distribution in 12-ounce bottles once their new production facility is up and running in 2015.