The Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series by staying on the forefront of growing baseball trends. In 2019, they’re doing the same at the concessions stand.
Crawford Bock beer debuted in January at Astros FanFest in collaboration with Houston’s Karbach Brewing Co., and recently made its way onto Texas shelves and bars. The beer will also be widely available throughout Minute Maid Park this season.
The partnership makes Houston the latest of several Major League Baseball teams partnering with local breweries to come up with a special beer to hit the right notes with fans. It’s also the third MLB partner brew for breweries in the AB-InBev — makers of Anheuser-Busch products — craft brands portfolio, joining Blue Point Brewing and the New Yankees, and Devils Backbone Brewing with the Washington Nationals.
“For us, it came down to always wanting to be relevant in our messaging and give an experience that’s unique to Minute Maid Park,” said Creighton Kahoalii, Astros senior director of corporate partnerships. “This partnership gave us an opportunity to give us two things that people love, baseball and drinking beer at a baseball game. Not too complicated beyond that.”
The beer’s name comes from the stadium’s “Crawford Boxes” seats. The beer itself, meanwhile, is a bock, a popular beer style in Texas with brands like Shiner and ZiegenBock. The can’s design, which features a rainbow branding that celebrates the team’s 57 years in Houston, was an added bonus.
“All of us at Karbach are die-hard Astros fans and we’re proud to pay tribute to the heritage of the team with this new beer,” Karbach Brand Manager David Graham said. “Working with the Astros organization and the Astros Foundation to release Crawford Bock has been a great partnership and we cannot wait for fellow fans of beer drinking age to try it out.”
According to Kahoalii, in-depth conversations about the beer’s details — such as the name and liquid inside the can — stretched as long as five or six months. The general concept, however, was a no-brainer from the start.
“Baseball and beer go together,” Kahoalii said. “People love their sports teams and the ability to identify their beer locally that’s from their hometown and supports the hometown team, that helps to become a part of the ballpark experience.
“That’s the goal of every brand involved in sports is to meaningfully contribute to what fans are experiencing and it’s a good way to do it.”
Another, wider aspect of that approach has been baseball teams implementing broader efforts to better connect fans within the stadium to local brands. For the Astros, Crawford Bock plays a major role in that initiative but Minute Maid Park will offer select menu items from Texas-based chicken chain Pluckers Wing Bar, as well as maintain an existing partnership with Torchy’s Tacos.
And, in Crawford Bock’s case, those efforts will further feedback into the community. An undisclosed portion of sales will go to the Houston Astros Foundation, which includes focuses such as youth baseball and softball initiatives, military family support, childhood cancer programs and homelessness awareness.
“Supporting the Astros Foundation is a big part of this,” Kahoalii said. “Behind the brand, we asked how to make it a meaningful addition to the community efforts.”
The future of the Astros’ partnership with Karbach is unknown, but Kahoalii is excited about its potential.
“We are optimistic to be able to continue this in the future,” he said. “We wanted to have realistic expectations and see how it does in Year One and be smarter in Year Two.”