The Crawford Box is one of the more controversial seating sections in Major League Baseball, but they’re beloved by Houston Astros fans. Which is why it’s entirely fitting that the team paired with a Texas brewery to make a beer named after the most notable part of the Astros’ home field.
Crawford Bock is the cleverly-named beer that hit shelves in early March. Named after the shortest left-field porch in baseball, it’s an infamous term in baseball circles. But it’s a park quirk that’s helped the Astros win a World Series and provided a great view of one of the most exciting young teams in baseball.
Karbach Brewing in Houston is teaming up with the Astros to make a special beer that will benefit the Houston Astros foundation. Just in time for baseball season, the 4.5% ABV brew pairs Chinook and American Cascade hops with a variety of malts to make a smooth, clean bock that’s malty but not overpowering.
“We’ve been partners with the Astros going back to when they were still losing 100+ games a year, but a lot of us grew up in Houston and are die-hard Astros fans,” David Graham, brand manager at Karbach, told Uproxx. “Last summer we started talking to them and said ‘You know why don’t we do a beer specifically for the team?’”
Graham said the Astros were “geeked out about” the idea of making a beer, which was a nice realization for the two sides: they’re big fans of each other’s work.
“It’s funny, I think sometimes you forget how cool your job is,” Graham said. “I work in a brewery but I was so excited to approach the Astros. And they were so excited to have a brewery talk about making a beer (with them.) So it was really fun for both sides to get a taste of the other person’s day to day operations.”
Any brewery can name a beer after something associated with a local sports team, but partnering directly with the organization means Karbach gets to use the team’s classic aesthetic. The can’s look also eschews Karbach’s traditional split can design for a classic Astros rainbow design on top of the current Astros H logo. It’s a partnership that also reaps benefits for the Astros Foundation.
“Fan engagement is just at an unbelievable level with the excitement for the teams that we’ve had the last several years,” Graham said. “And we really wanted to make sure we were driving that charitable donation back to the foundation. The Astros Foundation does a whole lot of different things in the community to better it.”
Graham said excitement for the beer has been “through the roof,” and proceeds going to the Astros Foundation has gotten even more people excited about giving it a try.
“The better this beer does, the better the giving will be,” Graham said. “We think it’s going to really tear it up this season.”
“Our hope is that whether folks are watching an Astros game at the ballpark or in their own home, this beer will take the fan experience to the next level,” Matt Brand, Astros senior vice president for corporate communications, told Uproxx.
Karbach’s website notes that the beer goes well with some extremely baseball things such popcorn, peanuts and the 7th Inning Stretch, and while that may not be an official pairing suggestion for bock beers, it does fit with what the brewery and the Astros aimed to make with Crawford Bock. The Astros wanted a beer that was sessionable, something Graham notes is enjoyable from first pitch to the final out. But it also had to appeal to fans of all ages (21 and up, of course).
“They said is they wanted to be able to feel cool with their buddies but also to be able to enjoy it with their grandpa,” Graham said. “This is something we’ve never done, so it was exciting for us to break out of our comfort zone a little bit and try something new.”
Karbach likes to describe itself as the “SEC of breweries,” which means it distributes from Florida to Texas. But Crawford Bock will only hit shelves in Texas, though Graham noted that distribution will be a bit lower in the Dallas Fort Worth area because of all the Rangers fans there. It will also be in parts of Louisiana, though, where the Astros have a strong following as well.