Draft Picks: Indians honor heritage with fruity IPA
This is the second in a series of MiLB.com Draft Picks articles about clubs crafting unique and interesting beers for their respective fan bases. Already profiled: Gwinnett's 6-4-3 Pilsner. _
This is the second in a series of MiLB.com Draft Picks articles about clubs crafting unique and interesting beers for their respective fan bases. Already profiled: Gwinnett's 6-4-3 Pilsner.
You’ve heard of rally caps, but have you heard of rally bats? And if you have, were those rally bats full of beer?
At Avista Stadium, home of the Spokane Indians, that is precisely what is being served up.
Part of Spokane’s Redband Rally Campaign, the Redband Rally Beer Bats and are filled to the brim with their signature Redband Tangerine Wheat brew from No-Li Brewhouse.
The campaign started in 2017 to pay homage to the redband rainbow trout, a unique fish found in the Spokane River. The fish was once a primary food source for the Spokane Tribe of Indians, the namesake of the ballclub, but has since become threatened and less abundant.
The Rockies' High-A afffiliate constantly works in conjunction with the tribe and considers the campaign an opportunity to honor its roots.
“Being named in honor of the tribe is a big deal and all of these different connections that we’ve been able to make with the tribe and with this Redband Campaign has been awesome,” said Otto Klein, the club's senior vice president.
Everybody needs a Redband Rally Beer Bat!#GoSpo #RedbandRally pic.twitter.com/8av6er5Nyp— Spokane Indians (@spokaneindians) September 3, 2021
The beer was introduced in 2017, but at the time, it was just a rename of one of No-Li Brewhouse’s golden ales. In 2021, the 25-ounce plastic rally bat was introduced, and one year later, Spokane changed the recipe of the beer to create a unique IPA.
“We said, ‘We don’t want to just put a label on something that isn’t truly custom,’” Klein said. “So, together, we worked with the brewery, and they suggested this tangerine wheat. It’s just so much better because it’s light, it’s refreshing, it’s more for summertime and people just love it.”
The beer is airy and fruity with a tangerine twist and produced for a great cause. Part of the proceeds of all Redband Rally products -- including the fan-favorite beer bats -- go to the campaign for keeping the Spokane River clean. The bats caught on so strongly that fans can now grab one at No-Li Brewhouse.
Cans of the specialty suds are available at the park, the brewery and surrounding grocery stores, and they feature one-of-a-kind can art decked out with the redband rainbow trout logo.
The campaign is a prevalent part of every Spokane ballgame. Redband Rally hats have become the top seller in the team store, and every game the campaign's mascot, Ribby the Redband Trout, makes his way onto the field and does the signature “Ribby Shake,” a phenomenon frequently videoed by fans.
The team wears special Redband Rally jerseys every Wednesday, and Klein says the redband trout has become the team's "alter ego."
"We've been able to take this brand of this whole Redband campaign and it has had different offshoots from it," Klein said. "Obviously, the beer has been a really big part of it because it raises money and it's an awesome beer. Now it's on the market and I think its popularity will continue to grow and grow."
The Indians' front office and gameday team also has partnered with Spokane Riverkeeper and the Spokane River Forum to complete a river cleanup along the banks of the river.
So whether fans are enjoying a cold drink or sporting a Redband costume, they're supporting the campaign, which is Klein’s No. 1 priority.
“It just has depth and I think that’s the main thing,” Klein said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, hey, let’s just be clever and name a beer after ourselves.’ No, we wanted to introduce a beer that had depth and this one is truly that.”
Brendan Samson is a contributor to MiLB.com.