Team: Louisville Bats
Affiliate: Cincinnati Reds (AAA)
Ballpark Basics: Downtown ballpark with lots to do.
Ballpark Breakdown: Encompassing remnants of an old train shed into the design of the park, Louisville Slugger Field is almost reminiscent of Minute Maid Park which incorporated parts of historic Union Station into the architecture when it was built in Houston. In Louisville, the train shed serves as the entrance to the park and houses the box office, The Louisville Hall of Fame and Browning’s Brewery. We arrived a good bit before gametime, with the plan to pick up our tickets at will call, and to check out the brewery pregame. We were sent from ticket window to ticket window, and back again – by several ushers who were overwhelemed by the amount of people around, and for the most part unhelpful, and even unfriendly. However, there seem to be large crowds that gather before the game, and we were definitely not the only ones arriving hours early to pick up tickets and participate in pregame festivities. Louisville actually has a bunch of things to do long before the first pitch is thrown, and ballpark employees were even setting up an activity area complete with pitching challenges, and inflatables for the kids.
Once inside the stadium, we set off to explore. With a large concourse that opens up to field you can see the action as you walk around the entire ballpark. The Ohio River and bridges that lead to Indiana lie right behind the park and form a nice backdrop behind the outfield line. To get a view of downtown Louisville you can sit along the first base side or find a spot at one of the picnic tables that dot the concourse. Larger parties can also choose to watch the game from the Overlook Deck behind right field. However, there are a lot of distractions in this part of the park as a large play area complete with a working carousel are housed in this section, and the sun sets behind third base which can definitely be a nuisance during a late afternoon game.
The lower seating bowl is huge but the sightlines are great, and even the upper deck/club section offers a great view of the field. The upper deck and club section is considerably smaller with just a few rows of seats and then the luxury suites. For one more seating options, there is even a small patch of grass behind left-center where you can bring a blanket lay out as you and watch the game; which is a popular trend we have noticed in many of the newer minor league parks.
The bat theme continues with the gift shop named The Bat Cave. While this is a minor league park, the prices (especially in the Bat Cave) are major league. The bat mascot himself made an appearance early on, but was noticeably absent most of the game; even in the kids play area. Granted it was a hot day, but if you’re signing up to be the team mascot, in the south, in the summer, “hot” is kind of in the job description.
One other note, when visiting the area don’t miss the Louisville Slugger Museum. While the museum aspect is not that impressive, the tour of the manufacturing facility is an interesting way to see the production of bats used by current major and minor leaguers, from design and crafting to dying and sealing. Be sure to check the museum website before you go, as the tours are conducted at specific times throughout the day, and never on weekends.
Visited: July 2010
The Brew Basics: Overpriced, generic hipster music, chain atmosphere with an unhelpful staff – location is the only thing going for this one.
Overall Rating: Strikeout!!
This one seemed to be an obvious pairing for us, as Browning’s is literally attached to the Louisville Bats “Louisville Slugger Field”. However, we quickly learned that Browning’s seemed to use their proximity to the game to exploit a captive audience rather than promote a fun pre-game atmosphere. The food was overpriced and of poor quality, the beers expensive, and the staff obviously wanted to be anywhere but there.
We knew something was amiss before we even set foot inside as the only special the brewery was offering were half price bottles of…wine. The building itself is a gorgeous repurposed warehouse, but aside from the copper vats behind the bar, the décor was so non-descript, you could easily mistake it for a TGI Fridays or Ruby Tuesday. The hostess was basically clueless, and the waiter fairly curt for basically having us as his only table. (We asked both what time the bar was closing – since they were attached to the ballpark and all – and the hostess said she wasn’t sure, while our waiter just said he “hoped” they wouldn’t be open after the game cause he didn’t feel like dealing with the fans.)
Trying to engage our waiter, and since we hadn’t tried any of their beers before, we asked for suggestions on which to sample first. This only served to thoroughly cement our opinion of the staff when Gillian said that she liked browns and ambers, and the waiter suggested we try the IPA since that was basically the same thing.
But, we digress. On to the beers…
The Brew Breakdown:
They don’t allow you to purchase flytes on game days; and seeing as they had scratched two of their seasonals off the menu and their “guest tap” was Coors Lite, our options were fairly limited.
She-Devil IPA: Jim’s first beer of the evening and the one the waiter billed as just like a brown or an amber. In reality, the She-Devil has strong bitters, but is flavorful with a definite bite, and really not a bad beer. Dark in color, with citrusy notes and medium carbonation.
Munich Helles Lager: Gillian’s first pick – watery with bland flavor, bready aroma and very pale light yellow color. It’s easy to drink if you don’t like the actual taste of beer, but otherwise very disappointing, and not recommended.
Java Stout: The best beer we tried that night. A very dark beer with an equally dark, and longstanding head. The Java Stout has some chocolate undertones, but mostly (and logically) the most distinct taste is a front loaded coffee burst. This beer is a fairly smooth one to drink, which is a bit surprising as it is pretty heavily carbonated. Still not an A+ beer, but one of the only positives about this place.
401 E. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Man, we really struck out on this one. Never fear though, Brownings is not the only place to get a craft brew. Click the button to check out our first
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