May 1, 2015
In the Showdown Between the Mets and the Yankees, One Thing is Clear: Mets Win in Craft Beer
During the New York Mets’ home-opening victory on April 13, a Mets fan attempted to throw some beer at the Philadelphia Phillies’ Grady Sizemore. But while the likely inebriated individual successfully tossed the alcoholic contents of his cup through the right-field fence and into Sizemore’s vicinity, his apparent aim—to inconspicuously douse the opposition’s outfielder with beer and probably a teeny amount of backwash—was a major strikeout, this due to his lack of a different type of aim. A brief video of the even-briefer ale-tercation reveals an awkward underhanded toss that did not deliver a strong shower of suds onto Sizemore, but merely a meh of mist that missed.
Despite its overall uneventfulness, this moment of stupidity was an immediate topic of conversation after the game, almost as much as the crowd’s jeering of Mayor Bill de Blasio that occurred before it (he noticed, by the way). Both also seemed to eclipse the real news emanating from Flushing, Queens that evening, that the Mets had defeated the Phillies. It would become the second of 11 consecutive victories for the thriving local team, tying a franchise record and helping propel them to its current cachet: possessors of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) best record.
During this impressive streak (and since), orange-and-blue devotees have eagerly chatted about their team’s future, soaking soothingly in a bath of premature postseason preoccupation. I, conversely, have only asked myself one question, and it pertains to April 13, that game, that moment of stupidity during the fourth inning: What kind of beer was wastefully tossed by that dude?
This is definitely difficult to answer, now with Citi Field’s latest beer menu unveiled at the beginning of the season. While the New York Yankees—arguably the greatest sports franchise ever, and estimated as recent as 2013 as the most valuable today—have opened another season ignoring the existence of New York City’s growing group of beermakers, most notably the two based in the Bronx Bombers’ own borough, its crosstown rival is earnestly embracing locally made beer more than ever. Citi Field is allowing for new, nearby elements to disturb the established and outdated dynamics and seize some control of the beer-stadium canon. It’s a refreshing coup.
I already discussed this study in a previous article, but let’s revisit last season’s ranking and analysis of all 30 MLB teams’ beer menus by The Washington Post. As a reminder, each team was assessed by “quality,” the number of beers rated “very good” or better on BeerAdvocate; “locality,” the number of breweries pouring from the same state as the team; and “uniqueness,” the number of breweries available at only that stadium.
Safeco Field, home to the Seattle Mariners, was found home to the MLB’s best lineup, an unsurprising discovery considering its excellent and diverse components: “700 beer handles … three cask engines … and … a hearty list of 22-ounce craft bombers from breweries like Pyramid, Oskar Blues, No-Li and Rogue,” reported The Post’s Dan Steinberg. “[C]raft-style products crush those of domestic-style mass market beers,” too, “by a ratio of about 4-1.” A similar situation was observed at Great American Ballpark, which ranked fourth overall. The Cincinnati Reds’ abode, with the most unique beers of any stadium (130), had experienced a 363 percent growth in craft-beer sales at the time of the study—this assisted by last spring’s opening of a 50-draft bar, Brewery District, featuring local breweries like Christian Moerlein, MadTree, and Rivertown. While Bud Light was still Great American’s biggest seller, “stadium officials found that rather than taking away from existing beer sales, craft consumers were actually creating a new category,” Steinberg wrote.
If we analyze the Post’s study on a local level, the dissimilarity between our city’s two teams is brutal and indisputable. The Mets’ lineup fared well at 15th overall, this led by Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse’s “outstanding” rating and three “very good” beers from Sixpoint (The trio also strengthened “locality.”) But the Yankees, contrastingly, were dubbed the MLB’s worst overall. It’s hard to argue that the dubbing wasn’t deserved after a single look at The House That Ruth Built’s offerings, too. The complete Yankees Stadium beer list (updates below):
Amstel, Batch 19, Beck’s, Blue Moon, Blue Moon Seasonal, Budweiser, Bud Black Crown, Bud Light, Bud Light Lime, Bud Light Platinum, Bud Lime-A-Rita, Bud Mango-Rita, Coors Light, Corona Light, Dos Equis, Goose Island, Goose Island 312, Goose Island Honkers, Guinness, Guinness Black Lager, Heineken, Heineken Light, Hoegaarden, Kirin Ichiban, Leinenkugel, Magic Hat #9, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite, Modelo, Newcastle, O’Doul’s, Presidente, Red Bridge, Redds Apple Ale, Shock Top, Shock Top Apple, Shock Top Lemonade, Smithwick’s, Stella Artois, Yuengling.
The messy, macro-dominated state of Yankee Stadium’s menu last season, which included only one beer with a BeerAdvocate rating above 80 (Goose Island’s Honker Ale) and no locally made beers, is nothing new. Brew York’s Chris O’Leary has openly criticized the Yankees’ disregard of craft for years—and with the deceitful Craft Beer Destination debacle of 2013, how could you not want to join him? Though I haven’t seen its selection for this season, I’m not expecting much improvement. (My attempts to find the menu, by Googling “beer Yankees 2015,” mostly yielded videos of Jimmy Fallon chugging for self-redemption.) I can confirm, though, that neither The Bronx Brewery nor Gun Hill Brewing are circulating its 49,642 seats. CitiField, meanwhile, is selling two Bronx Brewery beers this season: Pale Ale and Rye Pale Ale.
Before we can fully bash the Yankees—though it’s really difficult not to fully bash the only MLB team’s failure to acknowledge a booming industry on that instance alone—it’s important to note that the mega-brewery has enjoyed a long and dominating career in professional sports. Though craft-beer sales are growing overall, with the Brewers Association reporting a 17.6 percent increase in volume last year, the menus of stadiums and arenas are still largely awash in Big Boy Brews. Another excerpt from Steinberg provides one explanation: “[M]ajor sponsorship deals between MLB clubs and Anheuser-Busch InBev or MillerCoors mean it’s not always easy for an independent company … to penetrate the market. The bigger brands often dominate in signage and exposure; Nationals Park has a Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk … [and] … Arizona has the Coors Light Strike Zone.”
At Citi Field, there is certainly nothing at the nefarious level of Budweiser Black Crown Butt-Cleaning Bidet Corner, but the big-beer sponsorship influence is present—and in the case of its newly installed centerfield video display, presented ostentatiously. It’s now 2015, though, and while, yes, we’re unfortunately presented with Bud Light Lime-A-Rita and Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat as options because of that partnership, we’re also given the recent brew-ribbons of Anheuser-Busch’s portfolio, Goose Island and Blue Point. If you still want to cry a loss of purity following those major acquisitions, fine. But I will happily drink anything from either of them over a Shock Top any day.
Okay! I’m finally ready to post Citi Field’s current beer menu—presented alphabetically, too!—and you can find it below. (Finally!) As I mentioned earlier, it’s bigger in volume than its predecessor, and a successful continuation of the ballpark’s attempt to inject more local breweries into the mix. These are aptly and most prominently housed at two dedicated stands at the ballpark, both dubbed Empire State Craft, which were introduced last season. This season, joining a solid roster featuring Ommegang, Southern Tier, and Ithaca, are Montauk, Great South Bay, and Oyster Bay, a strong example of Long Island’s evolution into one of New York’s craft-brewery hubs. Though I wanted more of a presence from Queens—Queens Brewery is the borough’s most prominently featured, and while it will have a brewery in Ridgewood one day, it still outsources all production outside of New York City—I’m excited to have these options available when I go to my first Mets game this year on May 15—against, of course, the Milwaukee Brewers.
The complete Mets 2015 season beer menu:
Bass Pale Ale, Beck’s, Blue Moon, Blue Point Summer Ale, Blue Point Toasted Lager, Bronx Brewery Pale Ale, Bronx Brewery Rye Pale Ale, Brooklyn Brewery East India Pale Ale, Brooklyn Brewery Lager, Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale, Budweiser, Budweiser Black Crown, Bud Light, Bud Light Platinum, Bud Light Lemon-Ade-Rita, Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, Bud Light Straw-Ber-Rita, Bud Light Mango-O-Rita, Captain Lawrence Sun Block, Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner, Coors Light, Corona, Corona Light, Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse, Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale, Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Goose Island Honkers Ale, Goose Island IPA, Great South Bay Brewery Blood Orange Pale Ale, Heineken, Heineken Light, Hoegaarden, Ithaca Brewing Apricot Wheat Ale, Kona Brewing Big Wave Golden Ale, Kirin Ichiban, Kirin Light, Kona Brewing Longboard Island Lager, Landshark Lager, Leffe Blonde, Leffe Brown, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite, Montauk Brewing Session IPA, O’Douls, Ommegang Witte, Oyster Bay Brewing Honey Ale, Queens Brewery Lager, Redhook Long Hammer IPA, Redbridge, Rockaway Brewing ESB, Rolling Rock, Sixpoint Sweet Action Ale, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Samuel Adams Rebel IPA, Shock Top Belgian White, Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat, Shock Top Lemon Shandy, Southern Tier 2XIPA, Spaten Lager, Stella Artois, Upstate Brewing Common Sense Ale
P.S. – What should DEFINITELY be added next at Citi Field? Simple. A proprietary ale! We’ve already seen other major local sports teams offer an exclusive beer: Oyster Bay Brewing’s Barn Rocker Ale was designed for the New York Islanders’ final season at Nassau Coliseum before the team’s forthcoming relocation to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, while that arena’s existing team, the Brooklyn Nets, has Slam Dunkel from KelSo. And I already have the perfect name, if the Mets want to use it: Ya Gotta Beer-lieve, because things can always improve, if you allow them to. Amirite, Yanks?
Update: We’ve been alerted to the fact that Bronx Brewery beers are sold at Yankees Stadium, as well as Citi Field–a very new addition to the stadium’s beer list, as we’re told that this was a new development in only the last few weeks. We guess that’s one additional point to Yankees Stadium.