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Carolina toasts parent club as Micro Brews

Milwaukee affiliate's alternate identity pays tribute to area industry
Devin Hairston and his Carolina teammates are hopping into special jerseys four times this season. (Carolina Mudcats)
May 10, 2019

A good alternate identity for any Minor League team accomplishes a couple goals at once. That makes the Carolina Mudcats' new alter ego a great one.The Micro Brews -- as the Mudcats were known on April 13 and Thursday night and will be known again on June 6 and Aug.

A good alternate identity for any Minor League team accomplishes a couple goals at once. That makes the Carolina Mudcats' new alter ego a great one.
The Micro Brews -- as the Mudcats were known on April 13 and Thursday night and will be known again on June 6 and Aug. 1 -- is simultaneously a play on the name and look of their parent-club Milwaukee Brewers, a nod to the beloved area beverage scene and a tribute to a local industry made up of small businesses.

For these reasons, the idea clicked in the Carolina front office almost immediately when the Brewers purchased a full ownership stake in the team and took over operations in 2017. Working with Minor League Baseball and getting trademarking and licensing rights cleared was a lengthy process that made 2019 the right time to launch the alternate identity, which Carolina intends to also use in future years.
"We just wanted to take the time to make sure we didn't rush anything out there ... to go through all the proper channels," said Carolina director of promotions and fan experience Patrick Ennis.
"We got full approval right after the 2018 season, so we started working on ideas of what we can do to make it a great promotion for fans, not just in Carolina but also in Milwaukee -- the double meaning, the colors reflect that, and that's [why] it resonates with people in Milwaukee. We're starting to notice a lot more Brewers gear, too, and people here are starting to convert a little bit to Brewers fans."


Longtime mascot Muddy the Mudcat sports his own Micro Brews jersey. (Carolina Mudcats)
The team has specially designed uniforms and did a replica jersey giveaway during the debut of the Micro Brews, which was "one of the most popular giveaways" they've ever done, Ennis said, and that was followed by a plastic beer stein giveaway on Thursday. On Aug. 1, the team is giving out branded bottle openers.
Local microbreweries Deep River Brewing Company, Foothills Brewing and Red Oak Brewery all have a regular presence at the ballpark, so in a way, every night is microbrews night at Five County Stadium. But Red Oak especially "ramped up their partnership" for the rebrand promos, according to Ennis, partnering with the club to market their HopGarten Bavarian Pils.


Micro Brews giveaway items include a jersey, a beer stein and a bottle opener.
Micro Brews nights also feature a "Cheers Cam," which allows fans to toast the rest of the ballpark from the videoboard.
"It's not just beer," Ennis noted. "People hold up their Pepsi bottle or water bottle and give a 'cheers.'"
And anywhere fans look in the park, there's no mistaking what team is on the field.
"Everything in the game script, everything changes to 'Micros Brews.' There's nothing left that says Mudcats," Ennis said. "Our scoreboard and our videoboard, [multimedia manager] Evan Moesta and our creative team did an awesome job changing everything. ... At the seventh-inning stretch, instead of our Mudcats chant, we got half the crowd to shout, 'Micro,' and the other half to yell, 'Brews.' It was pretty cool having the whole ballpark yelling, 'Micro Brews.'
"The response has been great."
Some of that response came before the Micro Brews even took the field. ESPN's "SportsCenter" named the identity switch the Minor League Promotion of the Week ahead of the inaugural swap on April 13.
Tweet from @CarolinaMudcats: A taste of our new brew on ESPN this morning. Thanks for showing the Carolina Micro Brews some love, @SportsCenter.#GoMicroBrews🍻 pic.twitter.com/lGsoUjUUrg
"That was tremendous," Ennis said. "[Director of broadcasting and media relations] Greg Young showed me the email from Sarah Hart at ESPN, and I said, 'No way!' There's so many great [promotions]. To chose to feature us, that was tremendous.
"Everybody got here early on [the Saturday it aired] and we were all watching in the conference room. It was awesome to see all of our hard work [celebrated on national TV], and we were just happy to share it with the fans and have them be excited to come out to Five County Stadium."

Tristen Lutz and other Carolina players are suiting up as the Micro Brews four times through the 2019 season. Carolina Mudcats

Like the Durham Bulls becoming the Tobacconists, the Mudcats had to strike a balance with maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere. In celebrating their community's love of beer, though, the Mudcats had an obvious party to turn to for advice.
"The Brewers have been helping us the whole way, because up in Milwaukee, they know how to handle it -- they are the Brewers. So they're helping us make sure it's family-friendly and it gives some education," Ennis said. "On literature or in commercials or anything we've said, we made sure people understood it's a fun thing for everybody to enjoy."

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB.