I left New York for California in the summer of 2010, and though New York City is the best city I’ve ever lived in (compared to Negril, Hamburg, Atlanta, Mountain City (population 2500ish), Vero Beach, Boston, Palo Alto, San Francisco, London, Jersey City, and Menlo Park in that order), I don’t rue the move too terribly. Weather is only part of the reason — Beer figures in greatly too.
11 of the top 50 craft breweries (by volume) were in California last year, and if you pushed it out to 100, you might see even more of a share for this great state. San Diego seems to pump out a new craft brew prospect with upside every year. It was named the best beer city in America by Esquire last year. And home brewing is rampant here, where the weather is ideal for ales, and more people have garages with space for all the trappings.
So maybe it’s no surprise that three of the four California ballparks I’ve visited — AT&T and PetCo parks in particular — blow Citi Field’s beer selection out of the water. It may not even be the fault of the planners, it may just be a fact of geography.
Here’s the list of all the beers available at Citi Field, provided by Amazin’ Avenue’s Rob Castellano after he toured the stadium’s (high quality) food offerings. Here’s that same list with all the brews by big beer companies removed:
Blue Point Lager
Blue Point Summer*
Blue Point Toasted Lager*
Blue Point White India Pale Ale*
Brooklyn Pennant Ale
Goose Island 312 Wheat Ale
Goose Island Honker’s Ale
Goose Island India Pale Ale*
Goose Island Sum Blond Ale
Kona Longboard Lager*
Leinenkugel Summer Shandy*
Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat
Magic Hat #9
Ommegang Abbey Ale
Redhook ESB Ale
Redhook Long Hammer India Pale Ale
Six Point Sweet Action*
Victory Prima Pils
Widmer Drifter Pale Ale*
The list looks more impressive than it is in practice. Of the asterisked beers, at most half of them are available at any one time, in the three craft beer stands near sections 105, 127 and 413. And most of the other beers are available at one stand across from the Shake Shack past center field.
Of these beers, only Blue Point, Brooklyn, Ommegang and Six Point are New York beers. Blame the weather or the antiquated liquor laws, but that’s not a huge selection of local craft brews.
It’s not all New York’s fault. Look at the top beers brewed in the state (bottom list), and you’ll see that there’s Southampton Publick House, Captain Lawrence, Southern Tier, Ithaca Beer, and Shmaltz making high-quality brews in the state. And it’s a tri-state region! Craft beer is “finally” taking off in New Jersey — Citi Field could offer beers from Triumph, Flying Fish, Alba, Kane, High Point, River Horse, and Iron Hill brewing companies.
But it doesn’t.
New York City has Bierkraft, Rattle n’ Hum, d.b.a, Blind Tiger Ale House, Lucky Dog, Spuyten Duyvil, Jimmy’s No. 43, The Diamond, The Pony Bar, Valhalla and many many other beer bars that are world class. Citi Field has three stands and a Beers of the World hut featuring, almost exclusively, beers distributed by Anheuser Busch. Maybe it’s not terrible — most beer fans will find themselves a beer they like — but it doesn’t stack up with the best in the business.
Perhaps the field could take some lessons from the city.