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.
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|
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.
This weekend I got a chance to visit the new Queens brewery, Singlecut Beersmiths.
You can click on that link for my review, but the gist of it is that it was good stuff. Queens hasn’t really had any breweries at all until recently, and Singlecut fits right in. You should all know where I’m going with this now. The Mets should support a local business, and get (at least) a tap of their beer into Citi Field. They did a great job with the craft beer dugouts last season, and adding Singlecut to the selection would not be that difficult.
It’d be a great way to expand the beer selection to include a larger variety of local beer.
Budweiser extended it’s agreement with Major League Baseball by six years. This isn’t a new deal, it’s more than 30 years old, but the renewal of it may represent a lack of progress towards getting craft beer recognition at ballparks.
It’s fairly obvious that the big beer brands, including Budweiser, would rather the beer drinking public of America be as they feature it on television. Beer as mostly flavorless sustenance that is almost mandatory to have at any viewing of a sporting event. Leaving aside arguments that this reinforces the “Get drunk and belligerent” at ballgames attitude, because those people are looking for a place to party regardless of the entertainment provided. The ballgame is usually secondary to these people and it’s pointless to blame it on the beer and unfair to the rest of us that want to enjoy a beverage. Which is the point; there is a growing subset of fans that want to enjoy a beer at a game that’s a well-crafted tasty drink the same way fans in new ballparks are enjoying cuisine beyond hot dogs and peanuts these days.
Even if rumors of Budweiser actively pursuing ways to shut down craft beer taps, and not just at ballparks, are mostly exaggerated, Budweiser can afford to pay the big bucks for the prime real estate at a venue. This often means craft beer has to be almost hidden among kiosks and specialty stands in other areas. Don’t be confused by Big Apple Brews; while there are some good beers there, they’re all distributed by Anhauser Busch/InBev.
Even with Budweiser being the big player in beer at baseball games, craft beer has been making inroads more and more. Hopefully this continues.
As well as being a Mets blogger, I’m also a homebrewer. My mother got me a homebrew kit for Christmas one year, and it’s grown into a fun hobby. Recently I’ve taken my game to the next level, making beers that I feel are actually good instead of just drinkable.
Naming the beers is half the fun. Often I like to think of a Mets related name, and sometimes even labels to go with it. I first did this with a toasted coconut brown ale that I dubbed Oliver Perez is Coco-Nutz. Most recently I created a Hefeweizen with strawberries that is really more of a Berliner Weisse, but who needs precise labels anyway?
I decided to call it Darryl Strawberry Hefeweizen.
Clearly the Phillies only do one thing right, and that’s beer. Philadelphia has a great beer scene, and Citizen’s Bank Ballpark is no different. This list was compiled by the producers of www.ChocolateCoveredMemories.com & www.MyRuinedLife.com listing all (well, besides the obvious macro brews) the beers available, and it’s broken down by section. (Something I probably should do next year with the Citi Field Beer List.
So while I like what the Mets have improved upon in the beer department, they’ve got a long way to go.
Let’s take a quick peek.
Locals: They’ve got Flying Fish, Victory, Prism, Weyerbacher, Yards, Yuengling, Sly Fox, Troegs, and Philadelphia Brewing Company. I may be missing a few off the list, but that’s quite a bit.
Styles: If you’ve been paying attention, I’ve been suggesting the Mets need a dark beer. (They don’t even have Guinness) CBP isn’t much better. They’ve got Guinness though, and also 21st Amendment’s Back in Black which is a delicious black IPA but not quite the same as a rich, malty porter. Baseball is a summer sport, but you can get chilly days early and late if your team hopes to make the playoffs. Even some summer nights are chilly and could use a darker beer. The rest of the selection is pretty broad across many styles. IPAs, a couple of Belgians, wheats, summers, even Sam Oktoberfest which is still way too early for but I think should be a staple of September and October baseball, Pilsners, Lagers, Pale Ales, Blondes, and ciders.
Location: I haven’t been to Citizen’s Bank Ballpark since 2007, and the beer was plentiful then, but it looks like now there are craft beers pretty much anywhere you look. 95% of Citi Field’s beer selection is located in 5 spots, but at CBP it looks like you never have to go more than a section or two, or perhaps one level down, to find a craft beer. That’s refreshingly awesome.