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.
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!
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.
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.
I ended a Citi Field drought Saturday by making it out to the park for Mike Piazza bobblehead day. You can check him out in my new header image.
I was finally able to have the Steak Sandwich from Pat LaFrieda. It was delicious, as confirmed by a billion other people at this point. Also confirmed by others, but worth posting here for completeness’ sake, the beer selection. No new beers available, despite rumors/hopes that other Sixpoint nano-kegs would be present, but you do get Sixpoint Sweet Action, Brooklyn 16oz cans, and three pints of the mass produced variety.
The Mets won, which was nice to see. They even scored three runs! The crowd, understandably, was dead. There was no Lets Go Mets chant until the 9th inning, and the scoreboard barely prompted us to cheer. There was an annoying bunch beyond us that wanted to scream for long periods of times when Dickey struck someone out..mercifully R.A. Dickey only struck out two.
Realizing my chances were running low, I got a Carvel Sunday in an ice cream helmet, so I could add the 50th anniversary helmet cap to my collection. The ice cream hit the spot too.
Tejada made a really neat jump and fake on a throw to third from Scott Hairston. It kept Greene from taking an extra base on the throw, and although it’s a play that should probably be made on most chances, it’s still nice to see the Mets putting in the right effort and execution on the fundamentals.
There will be one more Seatcrew.com ticket giveaway in early September.
I’ll be out of the country for the second half of September. Likely without much internet or time. I’m probably going to schedule a bunch of baseball and beer related posts, so keep an eye out for that.
Thanks to CoreyNYC for pointing me to this tweet
— Union Beer Dist. (@greatbrewersnyc) July 25, 2012
Now, as you can see by the picture, Sixpoint Sweet Action is already served at Citi Field at any of the three Craft Beer Dugouts. These are located near the foul poles on the field level and just to the first base side of the Big Apple Brews stand in the Promenade Food Court area behind home plate.
The section 139 mentioned in the tweet is the last section of the left field reserved section on the field level, on the left field side of the apple. There is already one of those beer of the world stand there that looks similar to the Craft Beer Dugout and has four taps. So perhaps all this tweet means is an additional Dugout. This is a poor place for it, as it’s basically on the Shake Shack line when it gets really long, but maybe getting a beer prior to getting on the Shake Shack line (even if you can no longer get Shackmeister Ale) is the perfect spot.
What I would love for it to be, and I doubt it would be given the location and proximity to the Big Apple Brews (distributed by Anheuser-Busch), is a stand devoted to carrying excellent local craft beer cans, starting with the half dozen or so nano-kegs (cans) that Sixpoint carries. If they included Diesel this would match my request for a darker beer at Citi Field.
Unrelated to the tweet, Blue Point was supposed to have their White IPA available in cans at Citi Field, but I have had yet to see them. I’ve seen tweets from Blue Point folk that the cans have been released recently, so hopefully they’ll start showing up at Citi Field. The beer itself might be a little more palatable for the casual fan, as it’s not as super bitter as many associate with IPAs. It’s a little more floraly and has some Belgian wheat beer feel to it.
You guys will dig this quote from Josh Lewin. He was talking about Chris Schwinden getting strikeouts in Wednesday’s game. Specifically he was referencing Jordan Schafer’s league leading 31st strike out.
“When you’re having more than one, (Jordan) Schafer’s the guy to pitch to.”
This amused me at least. Schaefer, for those of you into the history of Mets sponsors, was a Mets sponsor (before my time) years ago and one if their tag lines was “Schaefer is the one beer to have when you‘re having more than one”.
In memory of the Mets sponsor (now owned by Pabst) the Crane Pool Forum awards the Schaefer Player of the Game (and month) awards to the most deserving Met, based on member voting after each game. You’re welcome to join in the discussion.