Mill Street wants fans to rally around its Blue Jays beer

The Labatt-owned brewer's Blue Wave aims to capitalize on the overlap between craft beer and baseball fans.

Baseball and suds go together like a hand in a glove, and Mill Street Brewery is capitalizing on the excitement surrounding the return of the Toronto Blue Jays with a new beer collaboration.

The two have teamed up on Blue Wave, described as a bridge between a lager and an IPA,  which is available on shelves at the LCBO and The Beer Store, as well as on-site at the Rogers Centre and Mill Street Brewpubs.

Dave Watson is VP, ECD, design at Mosaic North America, which has done a lot of retail work for Mill Street’s parent company Labatt. He says the Blue Wave product has a bespoke wordmark, but also a subtle baseball stitching as part of its design. The colour, he adds, is based around the popularity of the baby blue Jays throwback jerseys. The fact that the Blue Jays have one of the few remaining fanbases in Major League Baseball that still does the wave made the name the right fit, Watson says.

Other MLB teams are doing this, he adds, and Labatt considers this a white space in the market. A hoppy, citrusy beer is also something that would suit the tastes of craft drinkers – a segment that has increasingly overlapped in recent years with baseball fans, who might have previously been more associated with macro brews served in stadiums.

For now, the new beer is meant as a test-and-see, but since sales through opening weekend were higher than anticipated, it’ll probably be around for a while.

“Sales are doing well, and we’re having conversations about how to make this a bigger deal in Ontario and beyond,” he says.

To celebrate the return of Major League Baseball in Canada and highlight the partnership, Mill Street Brewery will be activating on its social channels all season long with game-day content.

Watson tells strategy that there’s no major above-the-line messaging just yet – fellow Labatt brand Budweiser is typically the more visible brand activating Labatt’s Blue Jays sponsorship, currently being done through its “Home of Homers” campaign. But the brand is partly getting the word out with two Blue Wave bars at Rogers Centre, complete with branding and tap handles.

In addition to the launch of this new collaboration beer, fans were able to check out the Mill Street Brewpub in the Distillery District and celebrate Opening Night with a special “Blue Wave” menu, featuring food specials that perfectly pair with Blue Wave and Blue Jays prize packs.