Team: Chicago Cubs (Spring Training)
Affiliate: N/A (Cactus League)
Cubs players should feel right at home while playing at Sloan Park. The dimensions of Sloan Park mimic those of Wrigley Field and the berm seating in the outfield are intended to copy the feeling of the bleachers in Chicago. The light fixtures pay homage to the lights at Wrigley Field. They even have their own set of rooftop seats with the Budweiser Rooftop seats. Just like the rooftop seats in Chicago, you need a special ticket to access the ones in Arizona.
The iconic Wrigley Field marquee is even replicated in Sloan Park. However, instead of being put on the outside of the park it is placed along the first base side on the concourse for photo opportunities. The Cubs even have an employee that can personalize the marquee with your name for a custom photo op.
While the outfield wall is not covered in ivy, there is a Wiffle Ball field for kids to play on in the concourse behind the outfield fence. Made to look like a miniature Wrigley complete with and “ivy” outfield wall and “brick” backstop. Clark, the Cubs mascot, was even pitching to the kids playing during our visit.
Fans traveling from Chicago will also feel right at home (minus the temperature difference) with the food and drink options. A Taste of Chicago concession stand has polish dogs and Giordano’s pizza and the Windy City Dog stand will have multiple options of encased meats. Beer is the only part where you will need to do a little looking.
Best Spot For Beer: Every concession stand and beer stand will typically have one local (or local-ish) option from Goose Island or Old Style. During our visit we had to search a little for a spot with multiple local options. The beer stand in center field seemed to have the most diverse selection with multiple options from half Acre.
Sloan Park is the largest (15,000) and newest (2014) Cactus League ballpark and the Cubs did a great job of bringing a little bit of Chicago to Arizona. From the food to the ballpark quirks, Cubs fans and players will find this a home away from home (but with much better weather).
Pedal Haus Brewery (Tempe)
Rating: Home Run
Beer Basics: A chain, in a mall, a couple of blocks from a college…and definitely worth checking out.
Though Sloan Park technically has a Mesa address, it’s very close to Tempe; which is very good for beer pairing, since that also puts it close to the Tempe location of Pedal Haus Brewing. We actually visited a couple of Pedal Haus’ on our trip, but this was by far our favorite. Just shy of Arizona State University’s campus, if you take the right alleys and turns you’ll find a huge beer garden tucked into a downtown mall. While it may not sound like our normal cup of tea (pint of beer?), this vibe just hit.
Inside, exposed brick walls climb all the way to an open beam and black-painted duct work ceiling. There are TVs everywhere and a long rectangular bar whose seats are inside on one side, and outside on the other. A long communal table that will seat at least a dozen, allows for a bird’s eye view of the kitchen. Much of the brewing apparatus doubles as décor, so you’ll see brewing equipment and nods to their work throughout, from the fermenting barrels to some of the lights that are encased in what looks like cut open round brew tanks.
As nice as it was, we didn’t really spend too much time inside the modern cement and windowed Pedal Haus; but that’s kind of the point. Two large multi level decks are shaded from the Arizona sun by decoratively lit trees and foliage, and a wooden lean-to roof arcs high over much of the area. Lined with center bars, high and low top tables, opportunities for cornhole, multiple TVs and a spot for a stage. There are spots to be in the thick of everything, and quieter spots as well. It was one of the largest patios we’d seen in the middle of a city; according to one of the managers, there is room for around 400 people on the patio alone. In a nod to Arizona’s weather extremes, they had gigantic fans spinning over head and outdoor heaters ready just in case.
We were there in the late afternoon of a Wednesday but despite the proximity to a college, it was actually full of young professionals. Turns out, this is the day to be here because every Wednesday is “Pretzel Fest” and you can score some sweet deals on a food board and full size beers of your choosing. Pedal Haus is also dog-friendly and has a grab and go section as well if you’re craving some beer cheese on the run.
With several different locations and several dozen beers on tap, you might worry that Pedal Haus is phoning it in, but they’ve been piling up awards since 2016, crossing a variety of styles and even scoring “Best Brewery in America” at the 2019 Copa Cervezas de América. The weather was gorgeous, we had a great seat in the beer garden and we’d stumbled onto happy hour. We stayed for more than one:
Sourgarten Blueberry Pom (4.9% ABV/9 IBU) – A sour fruited beer that is tart and fruity and not at all stinky. The beer beer itself is a dark rose red, just like a raspberry smoothie. Overall this was juicy, with just a shade of tart at the end so it stayed sweet and refreshing and never became over sweet and cloying. Very good.
Haus IPA (7.4%ABV/58 IBU) – This beer has a deep golden color with some visible carbonation, that’s more pronounced on the tongue. The smell is pine, resin and hops. This is actually listed as a Northwest IPA so we were expecting to be blown out by hops, but while they were strong, they didn’t overwhelm and served to compliment the spicy mustard and beer cheese pretzel situation.
Mexican Amber Lager (5.8% ABV/22.8 IBU) A true golden color with a very bready palate that starts light and ends sweet with a thinner middle and a bouquet that’s all bread and yeast. Not our favorite.
White Rabbit Hazy IPA (7.5 ABV/48.6 IBU) A cheerfully yellow ale that had one wide ring of lacing that never dissipated and sticks to the sides of the glass. A somewhat opaque beer with a juicy and robust flavor with strong pineapple notes. Ends floral and effervescent.
730 S Mill Ave #102
Tempe, AZ 85281