GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Mitten Brewing Company has built itself around bringing the worlds of craft beer and baseball together. Something the two worlds share is the idea of pitching.
In baseball, pitching refers to throwing the ball towards home plate to start a play. In brewing, it refers to throwing yeast into wort to start fermentation. The “Art of Pitching” series is an opportunity for the brewers at The Mitten Brewing Company to test out new ingredients and techniques.
“With this series, we’re trying different yeast strains that we may or may not use typically, in concert with making different recipes that we may or may not make either,” said Robert “Wob” Wanhatalo, head pub brewer at The Mitten Brewing Company. “A big part of it is to go out on a limb and try new things–trying new styles, or modifying styles.”
Six different brewers and teams at The Mitten Brewing Company have developed recipes that will be released periodically at the pub through Mar. 19. The styles include an India Pale Lager, Blackberry Black Gose, Rye Stout with oak spirals, Imperial Roggenbier, Bohemian Pilsner and the brewery’s first New England IPA.
The homage to baseball doesn’t stop with the series’s name–the brews feature names like “Fastball,” “Corkscrew” and “Circle Change.”
The idea for the series originated with a mug club member who was pitching ideas for beer names at the bar, said Brewery Quality Control Manager Aaron Ross. He lobbed “The Art of Pitching,” and the idea stuck–not as a beer name, but as an opportunity to get creative.
“Last year’s event was really successful. We had a couple new styles that we’d never made before,” Ross said.
Those who enjoyed the event last year can look forward to more experimental styles this year. Five of the recipes are completely new, and one is a spin on one of last year’s brews.
“Last year we sort of stuck in our comfort zones and did styles that you’d typically find on our board,” said Wanhalato. “This year, we’re trying out different lagering techniques, different lager yeast strains and beers that we haven’t made yet that you’re going to see on tap for this event.”
The series will culminate on Monday, Mar. 19, when all six beers will be tapped at the pub. Public and press are invited to speak with the brewers about the series from 4-6 p.m. Monday is The Mitten Brewing Company’s “Flight Night,” which offers flights at 25 percent off from 4 p.m. to close. Visitors are invited to purchase a flight of all six Art of Pitching brews and vote for their favorite on a Facebook poll that will be open that day only.
There will also be a charitable component to the Mar. 19 event. From 5-8 p.m., a portion of the sales will be donated to the brewery’s spring and summer charity project, the “Ted Rasberry Gift.” The money from the event will go to the Whitecaps Community Foundation to fund the Inner City Youth Baseball and Softball Program–a free program for inner-city youth ages 6-14 that holds games at seven neighborhood parks, including Rasberry Field.
“We do this program every year, and we thought this would be a cool way to kick it off,” said Chris Andrus, co-owner of the brewery.
“In the past, it’s been a good fundraiser for the Inner City Youth Baseball and Softball Program,” Ross said. “I’m excited that we’re offering that opportunity again this year.”
About The Mitten Brewing Company
The Mitten Brewing Company was founded in November 2012 by lifelong friends Chris Andrus and Max Trierweiler. Located in historic Engine House No. 9, The Mitten is a vintage baseball-themed microbrewery/pizzeria with a focus on community involvement and charitable giving.