- Mike Ehrmann/Getty
- Milwaukee Brewers All-Star closer Corey Knebel has picked up home-brewing during the offseason.
- Knebel and his father brew beers together, thus far making several different styles, from lagers to IPAs to a hefeweizen.
- Knebel and his father have thus far kept the operation amongst family, with very few outsiders trying their home brews.
You might find Milwaukee Brewers closer Corey Knebel doing one of two things if you were to visit him in the offseason: practicing his grips on a baseball or brewing a new batch of beer.
The 25-year-old Knebel had a season to remember in 2017, becoming the Brewers’ full-time closer and making the All-Star game. He posted a 1.158 WHIP, picked up 39 saves, and struck out 126 batters in 76 games. He also set a new MLB record for consecutive games with a strikeout at 45.
But with the 2017 season in his rearview mirror and a long offseason ahead, Knebel is now turning his attention to his favorite hobby (and an appropriate one) – home brewing.
Knebel said he was introduced to the idea of home brewing by MLB pitcher Ross Detwiler in 2014 while he was with the Texas Rangers. Knebel had always enjoyed beer, but the cost of buying large quantities of it added up, particularly with craft beer, so the idea of home brewing was attractive to him. In 2015, he was traded to the Brewers, a coincidence that was not lost on him.
“It was kinda funny how that happened,” Knebel told Business Insider. “I’m a home brewer and now I’m a brewer at heart.”
A family operations
Knebel said he began brewing on his own when his dad joined him, forming what he says is a dynamic team. Together they’ve made lagers, pilsners, IPAs, a kolsch, and most recently, a hefeweizen. Corey enjoys the bitter hops of IPAs while his dad enjoys lagers.
During the season, Corey laid off brewing and allowed his father to pick up the slack. But during the offseason, it can be a collaboration. He said his dad has surpassed him as a brewer.
“He kinda perfected it, he’s really good,” Knebel said. “Every batch I’ve made, I’m about 30% on; every batch he’s made he’s 100% that it’s gonna be good. When I join in with him, we make some pretty good beer.”
Only a few people can attest to that statement. Knebel hasn’t let his teammates try his beer. He gave an IPA to his agent, which Knebel said he enjoyed, but thus far, only family have tried his home brews.
“I like to keep that between me and my dad,” Knebel said. “Who knows if they’re actually really good. My dad and I don’t know because we’re really biased toward our beer. So I’ve been afraid to let them try it. I keep that to a low number.”
Knebel added: “We just don’t like getting out of our comfort zone.”
A taste for alcohol, particularly fine beers, could be inhibitive to an athlete’s career, particularly a star on the rise like Knebel. Knebel credits his breakout season to being fully healthy entering training camp, saying it was the best he felt all year, allowing him to become the Brewers’ workhorse out of the bullpen.
However, he’s not worried about limiting his intake. Knebel said he and his dad actually only enjoy a handful of their own beers themselves. Knebel noted that baseball’s offseason comes around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the Super Bowl, so it’s a good opportunity to pass off some of their beers onto family during holidays and parties.
“You never have to limit yourself to how much you drink,” he said, cutting himself off. “Maybe how much you drink in one night, but how much you drink in a year, it’s all the same.”
For now, the Knebel brewing operation remains in the family, but maybe one day it will expand.
“Beer is beer – everyone drinks it.”