White Sox Craft Lodge 2023 | Guaranteed Rate Field
Baseball’s back so that means a new year of craft brews at the Leinenkugel Craft Lodge! Some things have changed a bit since the beginning of last year – most notably in the look of the place. At least one of those changes streamlines the process and makes for a quicker experience so you can get back to the game. Let’s take a look! (All comparisons are based on last year’s opening day and might not reflect the state of the Lodge at the end of the year.)
The biggest cosmetic change exists on the walls just behind the coolers. A giant white “Leinenkugel’s” on a red wall replaces pictures of the current White Sox roster. Closer to the field a shuffleboard table has been added along with some red and white Leinenkugel branding. And finally above the fireplace (where the really cool Goose Island 80s White Sox neon light hung) has been replaced with the official “Leinenkugel Craft Lodge” branding along with some canoe paddles.
While the shuffle board table is nice, I seriously miss the barrels that Goose Island had around the area. It gave the Craft Kave some character and filled up what turns out to be a lot of empty space. Maybe some adirondack chairs to give it that lodge feel? Hammocks? There really needs to be something filling up that space because it just feels so empty.
The biggest functional change comes in the form of the checkout. Apparently introduced last June (I didn’t experience it as far as I remember), you now check yourself out. You scan your can and pay, much like the self-checkouts at grocery stores. The craft lodge employee then opens your can and you can grab a cup if you’d like. There are three checkout stations and things move quickly. An improvement on the one or two worker manned checkouts from previous years.
But you’re here for the beer recommendations. The layout remains the same with monitors above each cooler listing the beers in the cooler below. Six style groupings match the six coolers. I’m not much of a cider/seltzer/canned cocktail person so that group will have no representation below. Also, the Ales/Pale Ales category is STACKED.
Starting Pitcher – Hop Butcher For The World – Rotating
The only beer that will be guaranteed to rotate naturally slots in as the starting pitcher here. Hoppy Friday sat in the cooler, a Double IPA with Mosaic, Strata and Citra hops. Hazy beer drinkers should probably scoop this one up first as who knows how much the White Sox have but I passed as their Double IPAs just make me tired during the game. If – a big if – Hop Butcher decides to send over a pilsner or lager like Supreme Being that would immediately vault it into must purchase first territory.
Relief Pitcher – Obscurity Brewing – First Time Feeling (Pomegranate and Cherry)
Looking for something very light and refreshing, I reached for this fruited Berliner Weisse from Obscurity. The cherry and pomegranate provide some fruity sweet and tart notes while the Berliner Weisse base came through at the end with some tartness and lemonness of its own. I had a coat on while drinking this and loved it; summer months this should fly off the shelves. Biggest recommendation? My mom, who doesn’t like beer because of the “beer taste” (assuming that means the hops?), loved this beer. Refreshing, tart, and converting the non-beer drinker. I have no idea if the fruits will change/rotate, but I honestly hope they don’t.
Catcher – Midwest Coast – Hanging Curve
It looked interesting so I grabbed it. Knowing Midwest Coast it wouldn’t disappoint and it didn’t. Part of the stacked Ales and Pale Ales section, Hanging Curve differentiates itself as a blonde ale, lacking any of the malt bite but adding a more consistent grassy bitterness throughout. Son yes, a crusher of the highest order. While it lacks the flavor punch of some other beers on this list, its crushability is up there with Metropolitan’s Microvolt, giving you something to easily sip on while the dog days of summer float away.
First Base – Revolution – Anti-Hero
The most classic IPA on this list, Revolution’s Anti-Hero works for all the seasons that appear during a baseball season. Enough malt and body to warm you up a bit when the wind blows and it snows, enough bitterness and a clean finish to cause you to reach for it during the sweltering months, it’s the most Chicago beer available in the coolers. And it’s in 16 ounce cans so you really can’t go wrong here at all. Oh how I wish the Revolution #SoxSocial lounge would return that featured much more than just Anti-Hero on tap. I can only dream.
Second Base – Metropolitan – Microvolt
A table lager, Microvolt keeps things light and refreshing while still providing some flavor to keep you coming back. A cleaner version of a macro beer, Microvolt features a clean drinking experience, a little bitterness, and a fuller mouthfeel than any of those macros. It smells of freshly harvested corn and has enough flavor to keep you coming back for more. While not the beer for typical Chicago Aprils and Mays, this 3.8% ABV beer becomes the most refreshing thing you can grab in mid-July at the game. I passed on it this time for beers with a little more body and heft, but I’ll be looking for it come summer.
Third Base – Around the Bend – Vera
Vera’s still here and I couldn’t be happier! Around the Bend’s flagship (in my opinion) and best year-round beer, Vera keeps things light yet remains flavorful. Being a cream ale it provides a fullness across the tongue that other beers at this ABV can’t accomplish while still maintaining some malty sweetness. Don’t let the pistachio addition scare you off; it just adds a little nuttiness to the vanilla coming off the cream ale. Would pair well with a dessert from around the ballpark (soapbox time: please bring back the Prairie Farms booth. So many flavors!) If Around the Bend somehow sends Vixen, that would be an immediate grab.
Shortstop – Funkytown – Hip Hops and R&Brew
I attended opening day when Michael Kopech decided to give up 5 home runs. And this beer made it more enjoyable than I thought it would. Being a 5.5% ABV American Pale Ale makes it easy to drink and doesn’t weigh you down while watching the game (or batting practice in my case). The malt provides some sweetness and body that don’t come along too often in this style anymore. The hops (Citra and Mosaic if I remember correctly, can’t confirm) provide the juicy fruit flavors that come typically in a hazy beer. All together, it was the best of the classic pale ale and the new style. Even though the pale ale section is absolutely stacked (see picture) this should be one of your top choices.
Left Field – Maplewood – Son of Juice
We recently had this on a recent blind show and it really wowed me so it makes my hazy outfield. Eschewing Citra hops for Simcoe (while still using Mosaic), Son of Juice provides all the juicy notes that Mosaic brings (orange, melon, even berries) and marries it with that Simcoe that brings along some bitterness and some peach notes. It achieves a balance that many breweries ignore in order to get it as juicy and sweet as possible. It ranks right up there with Old Irving’s Beezer and should be chosen as such. Bonus – it’s available outside of the Craft Lodge on tap!
Center Field – Dovetail – Hefeweizen
Moved from catcher to patrolling center field for my team, Dovetail (along with Maplewood above) are leading the craft takeover of Guaranteed Rate Field. Their Hefeweizen features those yummy banana and clove notes you’d expect from the style but keeps them in check so it doesn’t go overboard. It coats the tongue and keeps the flavor coming long after the sip. Ideal for a hot summer day. But the bonus here is that it’s available on tap in two sections (along with Maplewood) so you don’t have to trek to the Craft Lodge to get it! Hopefully Maplewood and Dovetail start a trend of more craft beer on tap at various places around the ballpark.
Right Field – Old Irving Brewing – Beezer
My hazy outfield has to include the GABF Gold Medal Winning Hazy IPA beer. Beezer strikes the perfect balance between bitterness, mouthfeel, and juiciness. While Son of Juice has a similar skill set, Beezer just has more balance overall. For a hazy IPA fan Beezer should always be your top option. You should get it at least once a year at Guaranteed Rate Field if you go. Excellent job by the White Sox beverage department for bringing this one back.
Manager – Off Color – Beer For Ball Games
This will be the manager as long as it’s in the cooler. Off Color’s Beer For Ball Games does the cream ale thing with some like vanilla wafer notes and a fuller mouthfeel at the 4.2% ABV point. It adds some saison-like lemon notes that combine to form a Lemon Girl Scouts cookie that never veers into the sweet lane. The alternative for those that don’t like pistachios in their beer but want all those delicious cream ale flavors. Made for the ball game and glad it’s still available there! Needs to be on tap!
While I only highlighted 11 different beers available, many more are in the coolers that I did not include. You really can’t go wrong with a majority of the options available in these coolers. The selection the White Sox manage to obtain is unparalleled in any baseball stadium across the country. The hope next year is for more craft beer to be on tap around the stadium outside of the Craft Lodge. And bring a little more character to the immediate area, Leinenkugel’s!