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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.