Sandlot Brewery first female brewer created Rockies anniversary IPA

Abby Lundien estimates she attended at least 25 Colorado Rockies games over the years growing up in Brighton, but she had never visited the Sandlot Brewery, located inside Coors Field, until she started working for Molson Coors.

Now she’s there practically every day. Lundien, 31, joined the Sandlot team as a brewer in September and notably, she’s the first woman on staff in the famed beer maker’s 28-year history.

As a Colorado native, Lundien is well aware of the legacy she’s stepping into. Blue Moon Belgian-style white ale was first developed at the Sandlot in 1995 (the same year Coors Field opened) before it became one of the most popular beers in the country, and the brewery has won at least 45 medals at the Great American Beer Festival over three decades.

That heritage is the main reason why, following a longtime brewer’s retirement, Lundien jumped at the rare opportunity to work at Sandlot, which only has one other employee, lead brew master Mike Miller. And she’s already making her mark: Lundien developed the recipe for the Rockies’ 30th anniversary beer, a hot weather-friendly IPA called Sandlot Summer Session that fans can only get at the ballpark.

Still, Lundien is disinclined to glorify her place in the brewery’s storied history.

“It was just the right fit,” Lundien said, acknowledging she knew she’d be the first woman at the helm of the brewhouse. “I didn’t think too much about it, honestly.”

The narrative about being the first female has followed Lundien almost her entire career in beer. In 2017, she became the first woman to graduate from the nascent brewing operations program at Metropolitan State University of Denver; and shortly thereafter, she was part of the first all-female cohort of trainees at Molson Coors.

Prior to blazing a beer trail, Lundien was a University of Northern Colorado graduate with aspirations to become a teacher. But that endeavor was short-lived.

“I spent six months in a 7th grade classroom and learned it was not for me,” she said.

That’s when she moved to North Carolina and transitioned into the nonprofit sector, where her job often involved collaborating with breweries on fundraisers for the equine therapy organization she worked for. Lundien quickly became enamored with Asheville’s beer scene and the people behind it – so much so that she decided to pivot careers again and study business management in hopes of one day running a brewery taproom.

Lundien returned to Denver and enrolled at Metro State, and when the management courses did little to inspire her, an advisor suggested she try out the new brewing operations program.

“I automatically said, ‘Yes, sign me up,’” she said. Lundien joined the program’s first cohort as one of five students.

During that time, Lundien cut her chops in the classroom as well as behind the bar at Bruz Beers, where she served Belgian-style ales to thirsty Denverites. She eventually dipped her toe into the back-of-house operations cleaning kegs – “a rite of passage for any brewer,” she said – and helping the brewer mash in grain using a handheld paddle.

From there, Lundien earned an internship and shortly thereafter a traineeship with Molson Coors, graduating from Bruz’s 4-barrel system to a massive kettle at the beer behemoth’s location in Golden. Somewhere along the way she introduced the joy of homebrewing to her dad, and the two have brewed multiple times together since.

Lundien’s eventually moved to Coors’ Blue Moon Brewing Co. in RiNo, where she worked as a pilot brewer on the company’s 20-barrel system and joined the ranks of Denver’s beer scene, which is robust with woman-owned businesses and female brewers.

  • Abby Lundien holds a Sandlot Summer Session IPA, a 4% ABV specialty recipe brewed to celebrate the Colorado Rockies' 30th anniversary. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)

  • Opened in 1995, the Sandlot Brewery is billed as the first brewery located inside a Major League Baseball Stadium. The taproom at Coors Field is open exclusively during home games. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)

  • Colorado native Abby Lundien estimates she's attended 25-plus Colorado Rockies games, but she never visited the Sandlot Brewery onsite until she worked for Molson Coors, which owns the facility. She's now the first female brewer to work there. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)

  • Abby Lundien, a brewer at Sandlot Brewery, changes a hose attached to the kegging line. The taproom, located at Coors Field, is open exclusively during home baseball games. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)

  • Abby Lundien holds a glass of Bellyslide Wit at Sandlot Brewery inside Coors Field. That beer is a longtime staple and the predecessor to the iconic Blue Moon beer. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)

  • The narrative about being the "first female" has followed Abby Lundien throughout here beer career. “The only thing I’m tired of is that it has to be a conversation. But that’s the only way change happens," she told The Denver Post. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)

  • Abby Lundien, 31, moves a hose inside of The Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field. The 10-barrel taproom is medium size compared to where she's previously worked, from 4 barrels at Bruz Beers to the massive brewhouse at Molson Coors in Ohio. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)

“It is very neat to be a part of the Denver brewing scene and I do love we have so many incredible women that are in the industry,” Lundien said, adding she’s not yet totally tired of being a face of representation. “The only thing I’m tired of is that it has to be a conversation. But I’m not tired of talking about it because that’s the only way it’s going to change.”

Of course, gender doesn’t have to dominate the discussion about Sandlot’s beer. Now that baseball season is in full swing, Lundien and her brewing mates are hard at work turning out longtime classics like Left Field Lager, Naptime Stout and Bellyslide Wit (the recipe that eventually became Blue Moon).

The one Lundien is most excited about, however, is the new specialty Sandlot Summer Session, an IPA that boasts 4% ABV, citrusy hop flavors and a slightly bitter backbone.

Rockies fans can get a taste exclusively during home games when the Sandlot tasting room is open this season, which Lundien hopes will last through October. (Nevermind that The Rockies have only made the playoffs five times in franchise history.)

As much as she hopes for a Rockies post-season, Lundien also aspires to see more women continuing to infiltrate the beer industry, especially as she pursues her master of business administration to perhaps one day run a beer business on her own. Maybe even the Sandlot.

“For whatever reason (beer) became a male-dominated industry, and us women and men that are a part of it can just be welcoming to everyone that wants to brew beer. Because brewing beer is fun at the end of the day. It’s for everyone,” she said.

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