Ballpark Brewpub Will Be Ready for Opening Day, Brewers Say

J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel Yard sits above left field in American Family Field.

With the start of the baseball season a little more than one month way, crews are scrambling to complete the new J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel Yard inside American Family Field.

Signs on the exterior walls of the brewpub’s space were installed this week as interior work continued.

The Milwaukee Brewers expect the Barrel Yard to be up and running in time for the team’s home opener against the New York Mets on April 3.

“This obviously is our major construction project this off-season,” Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger said. “We’re very pleased with the progress. The best thing about construction is that in the last 30 days you see a lot of the finishes and the fixtures and all the aesthetics that come into play.”

The working brewery will feature specialty beer brewed on-site by the brewers of Molson Coors’ Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., as well as a full-service bar and restaurant overlooking left field that was previously Restaurant to Be Named Later and Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill.

Schlesinger said the brewpub’s on-site brewhouse is expected to installed and operational by the home opener. “As far as I’ve been told, it’s going to be ready to go,” he said. Most beers require at least 10 to 14 days of lead time before they’re ready for consumption.



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Schlesinger said he turned to the Colorado Rockies and Atlanta Braves for advice and ideas. Coors Field in Denver and Truist Park in Atlanta both have on-site breweries. “Frankly, I talked to a lot of our counterparts about a lot of things and got some good ideas about décor and what to expect,” Schlesinger said. “We’ve been here for a long time, and it took us this long to figure out that maybe we should brew beer here. We’re finally bringing that to fruition.”

Draft lines have yet to be installed at J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel House in American Family Field. Photo by Rich Rovito

Schlesinger spoke of the strength of the Molson Coors partnership. “Molson Coors has been great because we’ve been relying heavily on their expertise,” he said. “If they know one thing, they know how to brew beer and they know how to do it well, and the folks at Leinenkugel’s have come in and created some really signature offerings.”

The Leinenkugel’s brand resonates with Brewers fans, Schlesinger said. “They have a great history and a great brand. You think of summer beer,” he said. “It’s an instant connection with our fans. Our Leinenkugel offerings here are some of the most popular beers we sell.”

The beers brewed at the J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel Yard will only be available at American Family Field and not for purchase at outside retail outlets. However, Schlesinger said exceptions could be made if a specific beer becomes incredibly popular with fans. The popular Blue Moon Belgian-style wheat beer was created at the Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field in 1995 and initially was available only in the ballpark before widespread retail distribution.

“The plan right now is to have the beers exclusively here,” Schlesinger said. “Having said that, if things are so popular, far be it for me to deny the public what they want. If there’s a beer here that really takes off that Leinenkugel’s decides that they want to take to market, I’m certainly open to that.”

The brewpub’s menu, which is still being developed, is one that will appeal to baseball fans and include cheese curds, burgers and sausages, Schlesinger added.

The brewpub will have ticketed seating on game days for the area that faces the field but will also be open for fans without tickets who want to pop in during the game and get a drink and merely check out the space.

“There’s plenty of room for people to congregate and get a decent view,” Schlesinger said.

The brewpub will be open year-round and feature a more extensive menu on non-game days, he said.

Rick Schlesinger, President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger for the Brewers, speaks to reporters outside J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel House on Friday. Photo by Rich Rovito


Season Draws Near

Single-game tickets for the coming season go on sale Saturday morning at 9 a.m., and Schlesinger expects that most fans will make their purchases online, unlike in past years when fans would flock to the ballpark and wait in long lines at the box office.

“We have a very exciting schedule,” Schlesinger said. “We have a lot of interleague games this year. We’re very optimistic.”

The club is hoping to juice up Saturday’s ticket launch by awarding major prizes to randomly selected ticket buyers on Saturday. “One of the new features this year is that we’ve got some amazing prizes for people who buy single-game tickets, anywhere from a 2023 Toyota Camry to an all-expenses paid trip to spring training to an all-expenses paid trip to a Brewers road series and player-autographed items, a suite experience. It’s an incentive for people who are on the fence about buying.”

Group sales, which took a dip last year after a lockout implemented by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred delayed start of the season, are up about 15% this season, he said.

“We’re always in the top five in MLB in group sales. My goal is to be the top one,” Schlesinger said. “The reality is that this is a group sales environment (at American Family Field), with the roof and the nature of our fan base looking to do things in a group environment. The early returns have been great. I’m extremely happy to have a normal season: No COVID, no work stoppage. Just people talking about baseball.”

Schlesinger also touted the new sound system that is being installed at American Family Field, which he said is major upgrade from the old system.

“It’s literally a game-changer,” he said. “I’m here at every game and you get acclimated at what you hear and what you know. But when they tested it last week, I felt like I was in a completely different environment. The auditory experience that the fans are going to get on Opening Day is going to be impactful and noticeable.”

Also new for this season is the 4-1-Force entertainment squad, which will be seen on the dugouts throwing T-shirts, leading in-game promotions and interacting with fans in the ballpark.

“We’re really trying to elevate the in-game experience and bring back the fun,” Schlesinger said.




Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.