Steam Whistle Rogers Centre

Steam Whistle arrives at Jays games

It's long been sore spot among Torontonians who are fans of both our city's baseball team and our city's great beer that it has, up until now, been impossible to enjoy both at the same time. That all changed on Friday, however, when it was revealed that yes, Steam Whistle will now be sold at the Brew House kiosk on the 100 level of the Rogers Centre during next week's home opener.

A small announcement posted to Steam Whistle's facebook page on Friday night, confirms what up until now only a very small number of people have known, namely that craft beer has managed to crack the Labbatt's stronghold that has been live Jays' games for as long as anyone can remember.

Interestingly, Steam Whistle has chosen not to mark the occasion with any sort of fanfare (read: zero press other than a Facebook announcement and a tweet); which to my mind speaks to how precarious the agreement to allow their beer must be — I almost didn't want to write about it for fear Aramark, who provides food and beverage services to the Roger's Centre, might get spooked and revoke the rights.

When I pressed them for a comment, Steam Whistle would only say that they're "very happy to be in there" after serving so many Jays fans across the street for years.

Steam Whistle Jays

By embracing craft beer here in Toronto, albeit extremely cautiously, Aramark isn't actually breaking any new ground. In fact, they provide food services to 13 Major League Baseball teams, including the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and the Jays. A host of these teams boast great craft beer in their stadiums, but then of course the craft beer industry in the United States is booming and so the inclusion of craft in their line-ups is largely a reflection of sales.

Here in Toronto, despite what we beer nerds might want to believe, a majority still prefer easy-to-drink lagers along with their peanuts and cracker jack, and Labbatt's still far outsells even the biggest craft brewers; however, that Aramarak has seen fit to allow Steam Whistle in the Roger's Centre this year at all bodes well for craft-drinking Jays fans. At the very least it means that the sale of craft beer has become significant enough in Ontario to warrant their attention, and if that gets fresh beer brewed right across the street into our hands while we watch the Jays, that's good news indeed. Of course don't expect the big brewers to go anywhere any time soon, after all, those big sponsorship dollars are what helped put the team we're all so excited to watch this year on the field in the first place.

Photo by Keith Watson in the blogTO flickr pool.

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