Craft beers are proving a hit in baseball parks

continued from page 1

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

View results

“I’d say in the last six or seven years, the overall concessions business has become much more sophisticated than in the early days, when it was a hotdog, a beer and popcorn,” said Mike Bucek, the Royals’ vice president in charge of marketing and business development.

Earlier this season, when the Royals announced the branding of the new “Budweiser Patio,” they also announced the new Boulevard Pub and Boulevard Grill, where fans in Kansas City can grab a seat and catch the game while also enjoying their local beer.

It doesn’t take long to notice Boulevard’s expanded presence, either. While there’s a big sign for Budweiser in right field at Kauffman Stadium, and a large sign for Coors Light in center, Boulevard’s new sponsorship means it has its own sign beyond the left-field wall.

“We’ve seen a growth in craft beer sales, there’s no question,” Bucek said. “When you see the category grow, there’s so much more to offer. It’s pretty broad-based compared to what it was back in the day, and it’s definitely evolving and continuing to grow.”

Large-scaled brewers such as MillerCoors have noticed the shift, too, and that’s in part why it offers Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, Sunset Wheat and Berry Weiss at Kauffman Stadium.

Craft beers remain a small segment of the market, representing about 5.7 percent of all sales by volume and 9.1 percent by dollar last year. But that segment is rapidly growing, especially as overall beer consumption in the United States continues to slide.

Beer sales were down an estimated 1.2 percent by volume in 2010, and 1.3 percent last year, according to the Brewers Association. Meanwhile, the craft brewing industry grew 13 percent by volume and 15 percent by dollars in 2011, the second straight year of double-digit increases.

“This is an entire shift in the beer community, and culturally how we enjoy and what we enjoy for beer,” Herz said. “This is a market-driven demand, not a marketing-driven demand. This was the market itself demanding, I want to go to my local baseball stadium, and enough people have asked where the beverage buyers say, `Yes, we will sell it.’”

Premium products, of course, demand premium prices.

At Safeco Field in Seattle, a beer from the mainstream brewers will set you back about $7.75, but tack on another couple bucks for one of several dozen microbrews.

“I’d rather enjoy a couple good beers than drink the watered-down domestics that just fill you up without much flavor,” said Larissa Jackson, a credit analyst from Shawnee, Kan., who heads to the ballpark about half a dozen times each summer.

The San Francisco Giants have heard the drumbeat of fans. They’ll hold their third annual “Brewfest” at AT&T Park on July 14, where fans will receive a commemorative tasting mug and have the chance to sample craft breweries during a 3-hour window before the Giants play the Astros.

Rick Cloues, a software engineer from Overland Park, Kan., noticed the increase in craft beer options while buying partial season-ticket packages to the Royals the past few years.

“I don’t want a watery, light beer that lacks any meaningful flavor,” Cloues said. “I love the wheat beers. I like the flavor, the body, and even the lemon wedge that every bar tender knows to drop in the glass. I see more micro beers popping up in the ballpark.

“Not that I could afford them at nine dollars a pop,” Cloues added. “That just means my tailgating starts a little earlier than most.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Nathan Walker waits to take the ice during the Capitals' development camp at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Monday, July 9, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

    Nathan Walker’s NHL dreams send him around the world

  • Washington Nationals' Anthony Rendon, third from left, smiles as he warms up with his teammates who were were wearing t-shirts in support of him for the All Star game before an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Anthony Rendon not an All-Star, but he’s been Nats’ MVP

  • Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter speaks during a media availability in the dugout before an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    LOVERRO: Suck-up Buck Showalter needs history lesson

  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Celebrities In The News
  • Hall of Fame Inductees, KISS, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Ace Frehley speak at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, April, 10, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

    KISS rocker Gene Simmons touts 1 percent life: ‘It’s fantastic’

  • This image from video released by Funny Or Die shows President Obama, left, with actor-comedian Zach Galifianakis during an appearance on "Between Two Ferns," the digital short with a laser focus on reaching people aged 18 to 34. The president urged young people to sign up for the new health care plan through an appearance posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014, on the comic website Funny or Die, bypassing TV talk show titans like Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel for an online audience. (AP Photo/Funny Or Die)

    Obama’s ‘Ferns’ interview gets Emmy nod

  • ** FILE ** In this Nov. 12, 2013, file photo, actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    Alec Baldwin in talks to play Rob Ford-like mayor in new NBC drama