Opening Day is a glorious occasion in Milwaukee. The world’s best tailgate party is a baseball-themed bacchanalia that combines grilled meats, assorted dips, massive parties under parking lot tents, countless mayonnaise-based salads and, of course, truckloads of beer.
The party is made better by the haze of hundreds of busy grills and the hope of the Brewers’ upcoming season. This season, unlike many others in the past, is special because the optimism is real after last year’s NL Central championship and long playoff run. Expect Opening Day to be especially festive in 2019.
When packing your cooler (or, if you’re one who entertains the masses, choosing your keg) pick your beer selections wisely and take into consideration a few other beer-related tips to make Opening Day magical.
Have plenty of low ABV choices in your starting rotation
The parking lots open at 10:10 a.m. and first pitch is around 1:10 p.m. – clearly Opening Day is a marathon and not a sprint. Consider stocking up on lower alcohol brews to ensure that you’re coherent for the late innings. New Glarus Moon Man Pale Ale at around 5% ABV is a fantastic beer and a great choice for a long parking lot session. There are plenty of other local options to consider including Good City Motto Mosaic Pale Ale (5.2%), Third Space Happy Place Pale Ale (5.3%) or That’s Gold! Kolsch (4.8%). Prefer a lager? Lakefront Lager comes in at a low 4.8%.
Don’t swing for the fences
Related to the above. Because of the celebratory nature of Opening Day (and the good chance of chilly weather) you might be inclined to bring out a barrel-aged stout or another potent beer or two. If you must, just bring enough for a small tasting for your tailgating crew. A full-on bottle share of potent brews in the parking lot isn’t the best idea.
“Tailgate” at a nearby brewery
If you’d rather not be responsible for driving, hop in an Uber and head to a brewery for early Opening Day festivities. City Lights Brewing (2200 W. Mt. Vernon Ave.) is an outstanding pregame spot. The shuttle ride (provided free by the brewery) to Miller Park takes less than 15 minutes and the massive patio is a great place to congregate – the brewery and the patio will be open at 8 a.m. on Thursday. The tasty City Lights Coconut Porter adheres to the low ABV theory at 5.3%. Third Space Brewing (1505 W. St. Paul Ave.) is just a few blocks farther from Miller Park. They’re opening at 9 a.m. and also running a shuttle.
Designate beers for brat boiling assignment
It’s a controversial subject that’s comes down to personal preference, but I’m a fan of the parboil. I’m also a fan of the slight malt sweetness that ambers bring to simmering brats. Sprecher Special Amber and Milwaukee Brewing Louie’s Demise are both excellent choices for the procedure, which imparts flavor and helps to ensure that your brats are fully cooked. Plus, both are fine for drinking while you’re busy with chef duties.
Extra innings at Broken Bat Brewery
If you’ve behaved and paced yourself, reward your efforts with a post-game beer at Broken Bat Brewery (231 E. Buffalo St.). Discuss Craig Counsell’s managerial moves, Lo Cain’s performance at the plate or the bullpen’s effectiveness all while sipping on baseball-themed brews like Straight Chedd Apricot Pale Ale.
Don’t drive if you’re imbibing
This goes without saying, but if you plan on sampling a large amount of brews over the course of the afternoon, find a designated driver or leave the car at home. Cheers!
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that Opening Day, and City Lights’ 8 a.m. opening, is Thursday. But you probably already knew that.