NEW BRITAIN - The first-ever Beers in the Ballpark beer festival was looking like a hit at New Britain Stadium Saturday afternoon and is on track to become an annual event.
The New Britain Bees co-sponsored the beer tasting, along with Wolcott-based Shebeen Brewing Co., featuring over a dozen craft breweries from around the state as well as Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“It seems to be the ‘in’ thing these days, so we figured we’d give it a shot,” said Gerry Berthiaume, the Bees’ general manager. “It looks like we got 150 in the first hour.”
The $35 admission price got each patron a 3-ounce plastic souvenir glass to use for tasting as well as free parking, a field box ticket to the Bees game against the Long Island Ducks Saturday night, which featured a postgame fireworks display and a Stanley tape measure giveaway.
“The whole idea was to have an affordable ticket,” Berthiaume said. “We’ve seen other brew fests going on where the range of tickets is anywhere between $35 and $75, so this is not a bad deal. If folks haven’t been here before, they get a chance to see the stadium, how beautiful the field is looking. I would imagine we’ll take a look at this and probably do it again in 2018.”
Richard Visco, Shebeen Brewery’s owner, said, “We are very supportive of Connecticut and very supportive of the New Britain area as well.”
“We actually made a beer specifically for this event, a honey pale ale for the Bees. It’s been going over very well. Honey is actually a beautiful thing to brew with. Mostly it ferments out, but it gives a good clean, crisp flavor, and that’s exactly what we wanted for this event. We balance it with a lot of hops, so even though it’s technically a pale ale, it caters both to people who like the non-hoppy beer and those who like the hoppy beer as well.”
Visco said he was also serving a pineapple wheat beer, “because even though it’s at the tail end of summer, it’s still summer.”
“Without a doubt we would do this again next year,” he added.
Alvarium Beer Co. was another participant. With its beehive logo, Alvarium is “New Britain’s first and only brewery and proud to be that way,” said owner Chris DeGasero.
“We’re located on John Downey Drive,” he said. “We do full pints. We do to-go sales, so you can get a growler, which is two full pints in a can that we seal up right in front of you. We have a beautiful tap room, with an exposed brew house so you feel like you’re in the middle of the brewery. We have shuffle board, a back patio, food trucks. We serve local kielbasa. It’s a very nice atmosphere.”
For the brew fest, Alvarium was serving Full Yellowjacket, a session IPA, and Corporate Hipster, a pilsner.
DeGasero said he and his partners are eager to sell their beer at Bees games, but have not been able to work anything out this season because the brewery just opened two months ago.
“By next season we definitely are going to start coming out with beer for them,” he said. “At first we will release beers that are really popular at the tap room, but pretty soon we want to actually develop a beer specifically branded for them. It’s a perfect match.”
Besides Shebeen and Alvarium, other participating breweries included: Stony Creek, Black Hog, Sanitas, Charter Oak, Cottrell, Safe Harbor, Broad Brook, Narragansett, Harpoon, New England Brewing Co., Powder Hollow, Thomas Hooker and Brooklyn Brewing Co.
Fifteen percent of the cost of every ticket sold will be donated to the Literacy Volunteers of Central Connecticut, which offers adults free tutoring to improve their English reading and writing skills, serving New Britain, Middletown, Berlin, Bristol, Burlington, Cromwell, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Marlborough, Middlefield, Plainville, Portland and Southington.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.