The restaurant at American Family Field has not only been named but is also undergoing a full transformation into the J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel Yard, which is set to open in March at the home of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The working brewery will feature specialty beer brewed onsite by the brewers of Molson Coors’ Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., as well as a full-service bar and restaurant overlooking left field that will take over one of the most premier locations at American Family Field.
The Barrel Yard will be located in the space formerly occupied by Restaurant To Be Named Later and before that Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill.
Among the new features at the Barrel Yard is a three-barrel brewing system located at the entrance of the establishment. The brewing equipment is designed to craft specialty beers that will be available only at American Family Field.
Fans will enter through newly constructed garage doors that provide a wider space to connect to the ballpark and order from the new 27-foot bar. Joining the main bar overlooking the field, the Barrel Yard will feature draft lines for as many as 48 beers.
“We have worked closely to redesign the space and experience for our fans,” Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger said.
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The Barrel Yard is expected to be open year-round.
The Brewers had long been working on a new concept for the space –plans that were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Schlesinger said at a press conference at American Family Field on Monday.
“We had every expectation of having a new name, a new brand, new décor and new identity for the space,” he said. “A little thing called COVID interrupted those plans and the time that we were delayed led us to start imaging a greater opportunity for the space.”
The Brewers decided to tap into its long-standing relationship with Molson Coors and Leinenkugel’s, the big brewer’s subsidiary based in Chippewa Falls.
“We came up with a concept that probably seemed obvious,” Schlesinger said. “Why not have a space in the ballpark where we actually brew beer? Over the years, I’ve received that advice from many fans. All of it made sense. It just took a couple years for it to come to fruition.”
The concept of a brewery in a ballpark is, as Schlesinger suggested, not new. Leinenkugel’s Molson Coors labelmate Blue Moon got its start in Coors Field in Denver nearly 30 years ago. And this fall the Lake Country Dockhounds opened Lake Louie Brewing – The DockHaus at their home stadium, Wisconsin Brewing Company Park in Oconomowoc. The five-barrel brewery and taproom operated by the Madison-area brewery is bigger than the Barrel Yard brewery, but American Family Field can hold about 12 times more fans.
Leinenkugel’s President Tony Bugher said the company wanted to partner with the Brewers to deliver a brewery experience for fans, with a major focus on brewing beers unique to the ballpark.
“Imagine Opening Day Lager. Imagine Pennant Race Porter. Imagine Border Battle IPA. Image Playoff Fan Lager. And especially imagine this. A World Series Stout. These are the types of beers you can expect that we’ll be brewing right here at the Barrel Yard,” Bugher said.
The three-barrel system will provide brewing flexibility and allow Leinenkugel’s to “deliver as much beer as our fans will allow us,” he said.
“We’re going to keep cranking it out as quickly as we possibly can,” Bugher said.
Invited guests to Monday’s event were treated to Brew City Pale Lager and Hot Stove Rye, two beers crafted at Leinenkugel’s Chippewa Falls year-old pilot brewery specifically for the occasion.
Leinenkugel’s will have a full-time brewmaster on site once the Barrel Yard is up and operating.
“We’re looking to bring back everything from our hibernated beers from our 155 years of history all the way to the new innovations our fans demand,” Leinenkugel’s master brewer John Hensley said.
J. Leinenkugel’s Barrel Yard will feature a variety of ticket packages for game day. Options will include views from the outdoor tables on the Home Run Porch and the Bullpen tables. On game days, all fans attending the games are welcome to walk in and order carry-out drinks from the restaurant.
Ticket packages for the Barrel Yard will be available, and a related space also will be used for private events. The newly renovated Brew Room, located in left-center field within the Barrel Yard, will feature indoor and outdoor seating for groups up to 50 people to rent, including on game days.
An official grand-opening date, full menu items and operating hours will be announced this winter.