The Mets won on the field, and in the cooler. The beer selection at Citi Field is much improved, and last year was no slouch. While i was online the group behind me consisting of what I’d describe as an average Mets fan group of guys and girls was talking about the list and how they liked it. It’s always nice to be reminded just how far craft beer has penetrated into the norm. Citi Field is definitely keeping up with the times by not serving you the same boring hot dog with the same flavorless lager that might have been the norm even 10 years ago.
There still isn’t really a dark beer in the porter or stout sense, but there IS a dark beer. Upstate brewery makes a Kentucky Common Beer called Common Sense. This is a dark cream ale meant to be consumed fresh. It was the first beer I had when I walked through the doors to Citi Field, and it got my day started off right. Felt like a great ballpark beer, not too strong, some nice light roasted flavors and just a hint of hops. Think dark lager almost. Oh, and the can was pretty neat too.
Some IPAs, a few lagers, and a couple of fruit beers which I think is a nice addition. Ithaca’s Apricot Wheat is an excellent beer, and I had Great South Bay’s Blood Orange Pale later in the day. It’s a nice pale ale with a delicious blood orange kick to it. I like the additions of more New York breweries.
Worth noting is that the Empire Craft Beer stand in the Promenade Food Court–or as I call it, The Piazza–they have taps, and in this case Sixpoint Sweet Action, Blue Point Summer, Southern Tier Hop Sum and Oyster Bay’s Honey Ale.
Goose Island is everywhere, and this doesn’t just refer to Citi Field. Their ownership by Anheuser Busch-InBev gets them distributed to many places, including most ballparks. Usually that just means Honkers Ale, the 312 series, and IPA, but this year they’ve got two more. Matilda, a Belgian Pale, and Sofie, a Belgian Farmhouse, can be had at a few of the Goose Island stands around the park. They’re both excellent, well-regarded beers by Goose Island.
There is of course more to say, but those are the highlights. Check out the Citi Field Beer List for a little bit more breakdown.
With the excitement of Opening Day, and the disappointment of a rain delay and a loss, our first series win, and Matt Harvey’s return the Mets have packed a lot into the first week of the season. Now it’s time to settle in for the long season and make the Mets a part of our routine.
Next week the Mets return home, we get Citi Field noises and visits, normal 7:10 start times and the flood–might still be a trickle–of Mets caps and jerseys representing people headed to the game that evening. The Mets play everyday. It becomes a routine. Arrow, Jeopardy and iZombie episodes pile up on the DVR. We’ll have seen every NL East team by next weekend, and we’ll get acquainted with new heroes and villains.
Baseball is back!
Monday is Opening Day. I’ll be doing my usually stroll through the stadium looking for what’s new, cataloging the new beer selection, and just generally tweeting and sharing interesting observations. Make sure you follow along on Twitter.
The second half of the season is often time for change at ballparks, and Citi Field is no different. There is now a new cider stand located on the field level in the right field corner. Cider is a popular drink, and a growing one in popularity too. I wrote about some of the best ones over at BeerGraphs last year.
Obviously, some of these are macro brews masquerading as well-crafted ciders. The two taps, Johnny Appleseed and Stella Artois Cidre, are not good beer/ciders and are both brewed by large breweries. So is Smith and Forge.
Original Sin is a New York brewery, though technically it’s contract brewed in Florida, and I’ve enjoyed their cider from time to time. Angry Orchard ciders, both the apple ginger and crisp apple, are pretty good, and they’re brewed/owned by Sam Adams.
The most interesting one there though is McKenzie’s Original. McKenzie’s Hard Cider was founded in 2011 in Buffalo so they’re the most authentic New York cider on the list. I’ve never had the original, but I tasted both their Seasonal Reserve (which has the best BAR rating of any cider on BeerGraphs) and their black cherry, both which were delicious. The Seasonal Reserve tastes like apple pie. Delicious apple pie.
You can also find 16oz cans of McKenzie’s Original at the Empire State Beer stands and also Ommegang’s Cooperstown Ale, an American Blonde, that’s new as well.
You’ll notice the Shock Top HoneyCrisp Apple Wheat beer logo on the Cider Stand, but I didn’t actually see that one anywhere so I won’t comment on it.
I wrote up a beer review of Citi Field for BeerGraphs. Go check it out, it has maps.
The Mets, and Aramark, did a great job adding to the selection of craft beers available at Citi Field for the 2014 season. You can check out the Citi Field Beer List for a simple list of what’s available.
The main new focus is the two Empire State Craft stands. One is behind home plate in the Promenade Food Court to the left of the clubhouse shop where I believe a cocktail stand used to be.
This one has four taps, although one is Bud Light, and nine craft bottles from New York breweries. You can check out a chart of the nine new ones here. On tap as of the first home stand was Bronx Pale Ale, Sixpoint Sweet Action, and Blue Point Toasted Lager. (You’ll note the sign is wrong and the cashiers, at the moment, don’t really have a clue. Make sure you get what you ordered)
The second Empire State Craft stand is next to Keith’s Grill on the field level out in left field behind section 132. This one doesn’t have taps, but they have the nine New York beers.
The existing three craft stands are still open carrying Sixpoint Sweet Action and Crisp, Brooklyn Lager and East India Pale Ale, (and Brooklyn Summer?), the new Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale and the other usuals, plus four taps. These are located on the field left in the corners by the foul poles, and on the Promenade Food Court to the right of the clubhouse shop.
You can also get Blue Point Toasted Lager at Catch of the Day and the Sixpoint and Brooklyn offerings at the Pat LaFrieda stand in the Promenade Food Court.
Overall, this is a very good selection. I enjoyed everything I’ve had so far, particularly the tap of the Bronx Pale Ale. I’m not going to say it’s perfect, or that it’s anywhere close to the best in the majors, (I still miss the specific Brooklyn beers that paired with the center field food stands. They even make bottles of Shackmeister Ale now) but it’s a very very good beer list and a great step up from last year.
Every year it feels like there’s a new Anheuser Busch-InBev gimmick. One year it was those cups that fill from the bottom. This year it’s a Goose Island booth, that I would wager a guess is in just about every Major League Ballpark. This stand is in Right Field to the left of the Taste of the City place under the Pepsi Porch.
My initial thought was “ooh, will they have some of Goose Island’s other offerings?” which was silly. No. They have the same beers they have in the rest of the park, Goose Island Honkers Ale and Goose Island IPA on tap. I didn’t ask, but the menu on the stand only lists one beer price $12 souvenir cup.
Yesterday the Mets released some of the new beers that will be available at Citi Field this year, and tweeted this picture.
These are nine beers from New York breweries of various quality, and luckily, various styles. They’ll be available at two Empire State Beer Stands; one on the field level near section 132 and the LF exit, and one in the Promenade food court. First, let me talk about what I like about this.
Nine new beers is great, provided this is in addition to and not a replacement to beers that were already present like Sixpoint Bengali Tiger and Sweet Action. I’ve had some of these and enjoyed them, and am excited to try others. I’m glad to finally see a dark beer, even if a black IPA isn’t quite a porter or stout, as well as some very drinkable IPAs. I love that there is a Kölsch in the mix because it’s a great summer style for drinking in hot weather. These nine beers added to the list will definitely make it so I actually have to consider what beer to get at Citi Field.
It’s not perfect though. I’m not thrilled with the Anheuser Busch-InBev connection to baseball in all stadiums and how they dominate the market, but their ownership of Goose Island now Blue Point Brewing Company is a great way to get those quality beers to my glass. I really like Toxic Sludge and the already present Toasted Lager. Ommegang is brewed in Cooperstown, making it a brewery that really should be a staple at every ballpark. I won’t go into the contract brewing debate here, which for now encompasses Queens Brewery and Original Sin, but it is something to think about.
My concern is what is, and what might be, missing. I’ll be sad if Sixpoint was displaced as Bengali Tiger is better than any of these beers, and the announced location of the Empire Beer Stand is also the location of last year’s Craft Beer Dugout where Sixpoint was served. The list is also missing a couple of notable New York breweries, though I”m sure there are business reasons for some of it. It’s not easy to negotiate things like this and I admittedly have no idea what goes into it. The decision to stick to bottles and cans bothers me a little, because there are some great breweries that are draft only. Singlecut Beersmiths, brewed in Astoria, is one of those although they’ve recently started canning. As is Greenpoint Brewing Company. There’s also Ithaca Brewing Company, Saranac Brewing Company and many more.
I’m not going to stop campaigning for a true stout or porter, and I’d like to add Saison as a style that’d be perfect for a baseball park. Still, I’m quite excited to get to Opening Day on Monday and explore and try some of these new beers. Below is a table compiled via BeerGraphs’ leaderboards detailing the nine new beers and their Beer Above Replacement values. None of these are world beaters by any stretch, but their is some quality there.
|Southern Tier Brewing Company||IPA||American IPA||2.075|
|Brewery Ommegang||Ommegang Witte||Witbier||3.258|
|The Bronx Brewery||Bronx Pale Ale||American Pale Ale||1.806|
|Blue Point Brewing Company||Toxic Sludge||Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale||-0.232|
|Original Sin||Original Sin Hard Cider||Cider||-0.364|
|Blue Point Brewing Company||White IPA||American IPA||-1.088|
|Captain Lawrence Brewing Company||Captain’s Kölsch||Kölsch||1.138|
|Queens Brewery||Lager||American Amber / Red Lager||-0.320|
|Coney Island Brewing Company||Seas the Day||Imperial / Double Pilsner|
I’ve been lazy in posting about..well, about much of anything lately, but there have been some interesting developments on the Mets front regarding beer, and the beer available to us in 2014 when we go to a Mets game.
First off, about two months ago I had a chance to ask the Mets new VP Lou DePaoli, the one involved with tickets, marketing, and sponsorships, a question. I asked him about beer events like Oktoberfest, and about craft beer in general. The response was very enlightening.
He didn’t expect to see anything much more in depth than what we saw at Oktoberfest last year. Events, for better or worse, are not likely to become all out affairs. No 30 beer tastings type events, at least not by the Mets. An independent could probably organize it as a group outing fairly easily. That segued into a response about the beer in general, and DePaoli’s response suggested he understands what craft beer is all about. He also dropped a “Big Beer” reference too about the selection and availability, which only adds fuel to the fire about AB InBev doing sneaky things to push craft beer out.
However, the good news is DePaoli also referenced something he did in other cities before this, such as Pittsburgh, called beer passports. The funny thing is the way it’s described in Pittsburgh is precisely what he seemed to imply we wouldn’t be getting with Oktoberfest type events.
“BEER SAMPLING of great local craft beers for 90 minutes in Club 3000 starting when the gates open (5:35 p.m.) and concluding at the start of the game”
So yeah, that’d be great. The Pirates featured at least Tröegs, a great local brewery, and Bells, a great brewery in general, at one of their events, and something similar at Citi Field would be awesome. Another year mentions Erie Brewing, Flying Dog, Church Beer Works, Victory, Tröegs and East End. They’ve been doing this since at least 2009, and frequently they’d have beer passport nights several times a season. The Mets already have a relationship with Sixpoint, Blue Point, and Brooklyn breweries inside Citi Field, so expanding this shouldn’t be hard. They also have an Ommegang brew inside the Delta Club. Ommegang, which is brewed in Cooperstown, is a brewery that should be inside all 30 stadiums almost by MLB rule.
But wait, there’s more! Shane Byrnes, who works for Blue Point Brewery, tweeted this:
Thank you ARAMARK and @Mets for meeting today! Look forward to a great season and the best craft beer selection at any of NYC stadiums!
— shane byrnes (@BluePointShane) December 19, 2013
Well, that sounds promising. Also a subtle dig at other stadiums, which I appreciate as well. I’m excited to see what we’ve got this year, both on the field and in the beer cooler.
I’ve been writing a bunch about beer over at BeerGraphs, and you should definitely check it out.
The line to get in was really long. You could only pick up tickets at the ticket booths outside the Bullpen Gate and it took us about 20 minutes to do this. We received two vouchers each for beer, and a voucher for our Mets boot, to retrieve on the way out. No glass inside Citi Field. The lines for beer were particularly long, mainly because they sold tickets to more people than should probably stay in the Bullpen Plaza. There was very little in the way of entertainment, just one DJ with a German music playlist. None of the food options were any different than anything you can get in the main area of the park, in fact I don’t even recall what the three or four items for sale were.
And of course, the beer. Ideal would’ve been a handful or two of local seasonal options, with perhaps a tasting glass so you could try many of them. Even just two or three local craft options would’ve been special. Worst case was that they’d simply provide the generic Bud Light and Coors Light options that they provide to groups that buy Party City seats. The Mets went with the barely acceptable option; they provided Oktoberfest beers from Anheuser Busch InBev owned breweries Becks and Spaten. This isn’t horrible; after all, Spaten is a storied brewery and one of the six that’s poured in Munich, but because it’s owned by AB InBev, it’s the easiest possible option they could’ve provided. You also had the option of St. Pauli’s Girl and Bud Light.
I ordered my two beers at once because there was little reason to wait on the line again, and we ended up just heading into the park. The area was open from 5:30 until first pitch, but there was really no reason to stay.
The Mets boot was a nice touch, it’s glass and says Oktoberfest at Citi Field and all, but it’s very cheaply made and one of ours was actually chipped. It’s so obvious that it’s just two simple pieces of glass fused together, and the top of the boot isn’t even rounded like a glass for drinking. It’d probably make a nice vase though.
I like the idea of Oktoberfest at Citi Field, but I don’t know that I’d make a special excuse to come out again next year if there aren’t any real changes.
If you pay attention to these things you may have noticed that the Craft Beer Dugouts at Citi Field no longer have Blue Point, Sierra Nevada, or Magic Hat cans. This is a big blow that the addition of Brooklyn East India Pale Ale or Sixpoint Bengali Tiger cannot erase.
A discussion on craft beer broke out on Twitter, which let to this revelation by BluePointShane who works for Blue Point Brewery.
@brew_york to be fair, Citi has been very reasonable to work with. Cans must be 16oz, blue point, sierra pale, magic, abita, oskar all 12oz
— shane byrnes (@BluePointShane) July 23, 2013
I sorta get it; Having to deal with different size cans and hence the option for different size cups can be a layer of complexity Aramark and the Mets want to avoid in a ballpark where speed of sale is important. However, due to green initiatives you’re just handed the can of beer anyway and only get a cup if you ask. The Mets haven’t even raised the prices on the 16oz cans, charging the same as the 12oz bottles in Big Apple Brews. This year though they’ve raised the price on the Craft Beer Dugout taps to $12. I’m sure you’re getting at least 16oz of beer with these, and maybe a little more, but that’s a decent hike.
When Citi Field first opening there were four unique beers at the four food stands out in center field that created a base level of awesome beer. Since they’ve allowed Big Beer to price those options out of Citi Field, we’ve been stuck with these half measures. They’re nice measures for sure, but it’s an opening move that needs to be followed up by creative and innovative options for the Mets to get even to a league average beer selection.
For one, there are no dark beers. While dark beers are often less desirable in the summer, there’s still a demand for some bocks, brown ales, or even stouts and porters. You get cold nights in April and even some September nights can be chilly. Some darker styles would get enjoyed by many Mets fans even in the summer.
There is only one truly craft tap; Blue Point Toasted Lager at Catch of the Day. You can get a couple of others if you can get to the Excelsior level, and even more in the Delta Club, but there are so many good local breweries that would fit in great from Brooklyn, Sixpoint and Blue Point to more Ommegang. Singlecut, a new Queens brewery, would be a great fit as well. If the Mets need a way to offload the unused beer at the end of the year, perhaps they can work out something with McFaddens.
The Mets and Aramark are making progress in that they seem to at least recognize the desire for good craft beer at Citi Field, but they have a long way to go before there is a real selection of said beer.