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.
There are plenty of people headed to Citi Field for the first time ever next week for the All-Star Week festivities. Plenty of those people will be looking for a good beer list while they are there, and as the Citi Field Beer Expert, It’s my duty to inform them of the selection at the park.
The best options are also local ones. Sixpoint Bengali Tiger or Sweet Action are available from a couple of locations, specifically the Craft Beer Dugouts and from the Pat LaFrieda steak shops. You can also get Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, and some other nice beers as well. The dugouts are located on field level by the foul poles, and on the first base side of the Promenade food court above the Rotunda behind home plate. Take a look at the map I’ve included for the location. Blue Point Toasted Lager is also a great local beer, and that one’s available on tap at Catch of the Day which is located on the right field side of the Shea Bridge in center field.
If you happen to be in the Delta Sky club there is a bar with a decent selection as well, including Blue Point White IPA and Victory HopDevil.
Otherwise the best place to get beer is at Big Apple Brews, which is a standalone island of beer coolers behind home plate on the Promenade level and out in center field on the field level. Everything in there is distributed by Anheuser Busch, but there are still drinkable options like Goose Island, Kona, Redhook and Widmer.
That’s your beer selection. It’s not the best, but there are acceptable and tasty choices. Another thing worth mentioning is the price. It’s $8.75 for premium beer, and that’s the same price whether you get the tap of Kona Longboard Lager, the can of Blue Moon, or the 16oz can of Sixpoint Sweet Action. The light lagers are discounted to $8.25 elsewhere, and some stands have a 24oz option.
Citi Field could do much better with it’s beer selection. This week the Mets visit San Francisco and fans out there will watch some baseball and enjoy some beers. Let’s take to Untappd and take a look at some of the beers they’ll be enjoying and see how it stacks up against Citi Field.
Anchor Steam is the big brewery out there, and they’re well represented. I see check-ins of Anchor Summer, Anchor Steam, Anchor Porter, Brekle’s Brown, Anchor California, and Anchor Liberty Ale. The selection from one brewery exceeds the real craft selection at Citi Field. Other local breweries I see represented are The Lost Abbey (San Marcos), Speakeasy Ales and Lagers (San Francisco), Russian River (Santa Rosa), and Gordon Biersch Brewing. An embarrassment of riches and I didn’t even mention them all.
Going outside of Bay Area breweries are other winners like Ballast Point, Allagash, Sierra Nevada, Spoetzl Brewery, or even any of the Anheuser-Busch (ABInBev) distributed ones like Goose Island, Redhook, Widmer and Kona that you can get at Citi Field as well.
I also saw a couple of stouts and a bock, all of which are darker than anything available at Citi Field. (And they have Guinness as well)
In terms of beer selection, AT&T Park makes Citi Field look like the minors.
There is a 2013 MLB All-Star Wine available from Purlieu Wines. This is fine, I’m all for specialized products celebrating the 2013 game at Citi Field. Of course, this product was put together with about as little effort as one could manage. The URL for the site still reads 2012, and it’s just a simple bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon with the game logo on the label. The description doesn’t even mention the Mets, or New York. Additionally, it’s from Napa Valley. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, there are a ton of nice wineries on Long Island that are local and would probably love to sell one of their wines for this event.
And there is no beer. You can specifically tailor a beer to the event and it takes much less time to brew for production than wine. There are dozens of appropriate breweries in New York that could provide something fun. Even Ommegang, the brewery located in the same town as the Hall of Fame, would be a great choice. They brew a special beer for Game of Thrones, I imagine they could spare a couple of barrels for the Midsummer Classic. Think about how neat it would be for the baseball Hall of Fame to feature a collection of bottles from each game?
Regardless, there seems to be no All-Star Beer. Citi Field’s beer selection isn’t horrible, but it has about as many All-Stars as the Mets do. It’s disappointing that the event seems so corporate sometimes it’s hard to get some of this personalization. Never mind that Budweiser is a huge MLB sponsor and would probably do their best to nix any non-Budweiser beer being celebrated anyway.
Only a couple of games left this year, and really ever, for the New York Islanders but the beer selection at Nassau Coliseum ain’t half bad.
This picture is blurry, sloppy work on my part, but it’s a chalkboard inside a little bar area that’s right near the entrance by the box office. This is the best place to go if you want something special. Top drafts include Kelso Nut Brown, Blue Point Hoptical Illusion and Toasted Lager, Goose Island IPA, and Fire Island Lighthouse Ale. Except for the Goose Island, those are all local beers to Long Island (Brooklyn and Kelso are physically on Long Island, yes). I remember this list being different last year, and if you browse Google Images you can find chalkboard pictures featuring different beers.
Also available around the coliseum were Blue Point Blueberry Ale, Goose Island 312 Wheat, and both Sam Adams and Brooklyn lagers, including the seasonals. Of course you can also get the standard macro stuff, as well as the Shock Tops and Blue Moons of the world.
I had the Kelso Nut Brown ale, which is the same brown ale they serve at 5 Napkins locations around the city, and while it wasn’t my favorite, it was still tasty. To top it off the Islanders had a fantastically dominating game against the Philadelphia Flyers and continue their playoff push.
Hopefully when the Islanders move to the Barclay’s Center they continue to provide quality craft and local beer. I haven’t been to the place, so I can’t attest to what they’re serving now to Nets fans.
I’ve updated the Citi Field Beer List to reflect the changes I noticed on Opening Day.
Craft Additions: Sixpoint Bengali Tiger, Kona Big Wave Golden Ale.
Craft Subtractions: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Magic Hat #9, Blue Point Cans.
Macro Additions: Redd Apple Ale. Third Shift Amber Lager, Budweiser Black Crown, Beck’s Sapphire.
This is a step back. The Bengali Ale is really nice, but the pushing of the more macro crafty imitations is poor when it seems to have come at the expense of some real beer. Still no dark beer to be seen.
I was very focused on baseball yesterday and haven’t gotten to do a full sweep of Citi Field or found my way into any of the clubs to see if there’s a hidden nugget. There are probably a couple of new additions I’ve missed, somewhere, and I’ll be back to find them.
Follow @Ceetar today while I share my observations and pictures from Opening Day.
Quick bullet point type list of things I”ll be scoping out today because I procrastinated this post and now it’s late.
Trackman thingy. I found this article very interesting, and am going to see if I can find the panel.
New Beer. Is there any new beer, and what is it?
New food. Most of the new food has been previewed some, but I’ll still be checking it out and getting a feel for what’s new.
There’s always new signs and kiosks and advertising. Subtle changes in the way Citi Field operates. I’m always interested in those things, the way the escalators run, how the security is behaving. That sort of thing.
Tailgate and Mets fan friends. Checking in with all the fun fans and bloggers that I rarely see anywhere but at Citi Field. It’s a new season, let’s have some fun!
And of course, most importantly, a Mets win! Let’s go Jon Niese!
There is no mention of beer, which is disappointing. Perhaps it’s just going unmentioned and there will be some new cool local options around, and I’ll certainly be looking for them, but I’m not holding my breath. They do mention an expansion of the frozen drinks stand that was around somewhere last year.
El Verano Taqueria will have a cantina menu with frozen drinks, and they’ll also be a frozen and mixed drink bar near section 414 on the promenade. That’s right behind home plate on what I call the Citi Field Piazza.
Blue Smoke will have pork rinds, as well as a delicious sounding brisket sandwich.
Shake Shack will get their vegetarian option, the ‘Shroom Burger. Also High Heat Cheese Fries, Cheese Dog/High Heat Cheese Dog, and a “Meet the Pretz” concrete (black & white custard, chocolate covered pretzels and malt powder).
The Mets Hall of Fame will get a Johan Santana No Hitter exhibit as well as a ton of All-Star stuff to celebrate the Mets hosting the All Star Game.
There will be various ticket deals as well. $10 student rush tickets, military tickets, and some others including a free ticket for your birthday.
As always I’ll spend a good chunk of Opening Day wandering the park to see what’s new and hunting for secret beer stands. I’m sure there will be a couple of interesting things here and there.