Thursday, June 11, 2009

Citi Field

Been a while. Sorry.

Went with R to Citi Field for the first time right after the last blog post, and it's high time that I jotted down my thoughts in this space. I'll try to keep the baseball points to a minimum and keep the beer related business in focus...

I've been to about half of the ballparks in the country. And there are some real gems out there, like Camden Yards in Baltimore and PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Citi has some problems and doesn't quite live up to either of my personal favorites, but it still kicks the snot out of Shea. And it's just great to see my favorite team in some more modern amenities and not in some generic, concrete, multi-purpose stadium.

We walked around the lower concourse (and the upper deck before the game started) and looked at the field from just about every angle. The sight lines are great, and the fans are really close to the action. Sure, there are some seats where you lose part of the outfield, but that's the tradeoff for moving the seats so much closer to the field. Deal with it. You can see the field from most of the lower concourse without actually taking a seat, which is a huge plus. That's one of the things that they got right and is very similar to PNC. However...

You lose the field when you walk behind home plate. There's some special, exclusive restaurant or something right behind home plate, so when you walk the lower concourse you can see the field from the outfield and down the lines. But when you walk around from first base to third base, you feel like you might as well be walking around in MSG (or any other arena for that matter). You completely lose the field. The TV's everywhere and the broadcast being pumped in make sure that you don't miss any of the action. But I'd rather be able to see it on the field. And if you don't have a super expensive ticket, you don't really get to see what the field looks like from behind home plate.

The line at the Shake Shack will tell you everything you need to know about how the Mets got the concessions right. There are tons of choices in the outfield food court area. The highlight for us was the fish sandwich that R got from Catch of the Day. It was crusty outside and moist inside. I'm not a huge fried fish guy, but that sandwich was really good. We also had some pretty solid frites from Box Frites. I got a pulled pork sandwich from Blue Smoke which was tasty, though a little disappointing due to the massive chunk of fat/skin that I had to remove from the center of the sandwich. I would think that is more an anomaly than the norm.

And now for the beers...

I love that some of the stands like Blue Smoke and Box Frites have "their own" beers. From what I've read, each of the Danny Meyer stands at Citi has its own Brooklyn Brewery brewed beer. I had a Blanche de Queens at Box Frites and a Blue Smoke Original at Blue Smoke. I put "their own" in quotes above, because these beers are not necessarily unique to these stands, but either existing Brooklyn brands re-named (like the Blanche de Queens, which is more than likely just the Blanche de Brooklyn) or a blend. Apparently the Blue Smoke Original is a blend of two Brooklyn beers, but I can't find out which. If I had to guess, I'd guess that Pennant is one of them. I'll take a wild guess on the Winter Ale as the other, though that might not make sense given that it's a summer beer and the winter ale is obviously a seasonal.

But that's not the point!!! Each stand having its own specific beer is, because that's a great way to get folks out there trying something different. It's interesting and unique, and I guarantee that they're selling more of those than they would be selling Brooklyn lager if it were on tap next to the Bud Light.

I suppose that Catch of the Day is not a Danny Meyer restaurant, because they did not have a Brooklyn beer on tap. They had Blue Point Toasted Lager. I had one. And it was good.

And because I just love to end on a sour note, the Beers Of The World stand.... Ughh.... I guess A-B had to get their hands on this one. At first glance it seems pretty cool - a big beer stand right smack in the middle of the center field concourse with a large selection of imports and domestic craft beers. But if you're tuned in to the beer scene and you pay close attention to the brands that are available, you quickly realize that they're all beers that A-B owns distribution rights to.

That means that the Danny Meyer restaurants and Catch of the Day are the only spots in the park where you can buy a beer that A-B doesn't get a cut of. Lame.

So if you go to Citi, support the scene. Get your beer in the center field food court and don't get it at the Beers of the World stand.

And LET'S GO METS!!!!!

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