Beercraft newspaper column #37- Rohrbach at the Ballpark

Play ball with the Rohrbach Brewing Company

By Mark Tichenor and Bruce Lish

Take me out to the baaall game
Take me out to the croooowd
Buy me some Scotch ale and IPA
I don’t want fizzy lager todaaaay…

Whoops! Sorry. It seems we’re getting a bit carried away now that baseball is back. Here’s to another season full of everything the old ball game is about: exciting defensive plays, towering home runs, and hurling verbal abuse at the visiting players.

And what’s baseball without beer? The two are inextricably linked. Across the country, ballparks have been good for the craft brewing industry. Most major league stadiums have at least one microbrewery stand. It’s a testament to how this section of the brewing industry has grown.

Our own stadium, Frontier Field, may not exactly be a major league park, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be hurting for decent beer. Let’s start behind home plate, at the Rohrbach Brewing Company stand. These guys have been making craft beer for the Rochester market for over a decade, and you can get some of their signature brews right there at the ballpark.

In fact, the Rohrbach Red Wing Red is only available at Frontier Field and the home brewpub. It’s moderately dark, sweet, toasty ale without a great deal of hop bitterness. This beer is pretty accessible, even to those who aren’t so used to micros, and it goes well with those Red Osier roast beef sandwiches.

For those who’d like a bit more kick, there’s the Rohrbach Scotch Ale, a Rochester classic. It’s much darker than the Red, but not as opaque as a porter or stout would be. As with all Scotch ales, malt rules the day, making for a very sweet, robust, slightly caramel flavor.

Be careful with the Scotch Ale, though. You might not necessarily taste it, but the 7.8% alcohol content can really catch up with you, especially in the heat of a summer day.

Rohrbach’s third offering is a lighter, more refreshing ale that just happens to taste like blueberries. One of the best things about BlueBeary Ale is that it follows the cardinal rule of fruit beers: Provide the essence of the fruit without clobbering the drinker with excess fruit flavor.

It’s actually done rather skillfully. When you lift the glass to your face, there’s a tantalizing whiff of fresh blueberry, but the flavor is all crisp, refreshing pale ale with just a hint of the berry’s presence.

It may not be the most macho beer in the ballpark, but if you were macho, you’d be at a tractor pull and not a baseball game, right? Plus, it’s much lighter in both body and alcohol content than the Scotch ale.

Ultimately, the enjoyment of beer is about context. The traditional beer of baseball is undoubtedly mass-market American Lager, and we’re happy to sit in the stands with a Genesee as well. Still, the beers from the Rohrbach stand are a pleasant alternative that will please more discerning palates, as well as a testament that good things can still come out of Rochester. If you’ve never tried craft beer, they’re also a great way to gently expand your taste range in a neutral setting. And they go nicely with Zweigle’s hot dogs.

Now if only we could get that Conehead guy to bring Rohrbach to our seats…

In Other Beers:
One of the primary ways for homebrewers to improve their skills is to talk to (and share beer with) other homebrewers. The Upstate New York Homebrewer’s Association (UNYHA) offers homebrewers of all skill levels an opportunity to share the highs and lows of their hobby, and they’re always welcoming new members.

The club hosts frequent events and meetings, and counts among its members some of the most skilled homebrewers in the region. Find them on that internet thing at http://www.unyha.com.

Beercraft is presenting Beer School: a free ongoing tasting session hosted by Mark Tichenor and Pat Hughes. This semi-educational event takes place every other Thursday, 7pm, at Monty’s Korner on the corner of Alexander and East Ave. On April 14, we’ll taste Hefe-Weizen. Come down and try some; we’ll even teach you how to pronounce it correctly. Ausgezeichnet!

Bruce is a certified beer judge and commercial brewer. Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at http://beercraft.blogspot.com. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to beercraft@rochester.rr.com

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