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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Beer and Loathing: Taking Stock of the Best and Worst Ballpark Suds | Extra Mustard - SI.com

Mmmm, beer.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 15, 2013 at 02:53 PM | 140 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: ballpark food, beer

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   1. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4443908)
Wine uber alles!
   2. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:09 PM (#4443918)
On one hand, it is a good thing (as a beer drinker) to see some ballparks at least try to serve the types of beers that are interesting and attractive to people like me. On the other hand, it is a little naive to have such lofty expectations, particularly when so many other factors play into the decisions on which handles to tap. In other words my expectations are low for the ballpark, just like they would be if I rolled into a Chili's or Applebee's which is trying to attract the masses, just like the ballpark.

*Distribution, affiliation with local/national sponsors, spoilage, cost, and the fact that the world of crafty beer drinkers is still a small world, and while growing, the 'pour' of some of these brews is quite compromised at the ballpark, hence we avoid even trying. Some of the micros (particularly small batch) wouldn't want anything to do with having their product at the ballpark for some of these reasons, hence you get non-micro crafts like Blue Moon, Leinie's and other brews which aren't all bad, just because they are owned by MillerCoors.
   3. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:15 PM (#4443931)
I'm happy to bring back a beer thread! I just got back from a trip to the midwest and drank a ton of Michigan and Wisconsin craft brews. Bells, Arbor Brewing Company, Founders, Lakeshore, MKE, New Glarus, and Sprecher. It was a pretty delicious trip, all told. A highlight was the Lakefront Brewery tour in Milwaukee, which was by far and away the best brewery tour I've ever been on. And for when Harvey gets to this thread: you were absolutely right about the Sprecher reserve tasting. It was really, really awesome. An absolute must if you're in Milwaukee and love beer and cheese.
   4. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:23 PM (#4443946)
The Lakefront Tour is really cool, except for not being allowed to slide down Bernie's old slide. They actually have a helluva a Friday Night Fish Fry too.

did you make it to Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee while in town? not beer, but a great tour too (and gin of course).
   5. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4443950)
I'm kind of ticked at Nationals Stadium as they have pulled the MGD out and now their coolers are stocked with light beer galore and Blue Moon.

In March I took over the beverage portion of my place and introduced a craft beer selection. Unfortunately I don't have the lines so I had to go the bottle route but people are responding well to it.

Allagash White
Dog Fish Head 60 minute IPA
Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA3
Flying Dog Doggie Style
Starr Hill Amber Ale
Brooklyn Lager/ will be switching to Summer this week or next.
New Belgium Fat Tire

Yuengling, Blue Moon, and Sam Adams Summer on tap and corporate mandates bottled Leinenkugel Summer Shandy for the next couple of months.
   6. The Good Face Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4443980)
Allagash White
Dog Fish Head 60 minute IPA
Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA3
Flying Dog Doggie Style
Starr Hill Amber Ale
Brooklyn Lager/ will be switching to Summer this week or next.
New Belgium Fat Tire


Not bad, Could use a pilsner or kolsch though. Allagash White and Loose Cannon are the stars of that show; outstanding representatives of their styles.
   7. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:43 PM (#4443994)
The Lakefront Tour is really cool, except for not being allowed to slide down Bernie's old slide. They actually have a helluva a Friday Night Fish Fry too.


Yeah! I met an old groundscrewman who played Bernie Brewer in the early 1970s, he was showing his son the old shack and was a blast to talk to.

corporate mandates bottled Leinenkugel Summer Shandy for the next couple of months.


Summer Shandy can be pretty good, actually. But that's a pretty good selection.

did you make it to Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee while in town? not beer, but a great tour too (and gin of course).


Alas, no. Other than some bourbon while watching the Kentucky Derby I stuck to beers. I forgot to add Rock Bottom to the list of places I went, and I think the Safe House might be the favorite bar I've been to in a long while.
   8. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4444002)
Not bad, Could use a pilsner or kolsch though. Allagash White and Loose Cannon are the stars of that show; outstanding representatives of their styles.

I haven't really found a mid atlantic/NE regional pilsener that I like and also available through my Coors/Miller distributor. I tried to picking up another distributor but Finance has dragged their heals on it.

I like shandies but I'm not a big fan of Leinies Shandy. Give me a pint glass with real lemonade mixed with a beer any day over a pre-bottled shandy.
   9. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4444015)
There is a very good chance that we'll be converting our restaurant into a sports bar and if that happens, watch out. I'm hoping to at least double the tap lines to 8 lines and wishing for 12 lines. I doubt that will happen since I don't think I have the cooler space to do that. I'm also hoping to get about 20 beers buy the bottle/can as well up in the bar.
   10. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4444017)
I'm definitely in the craft beer crowd but have no problem with Summer Shandy either. It's definitely hits the spot from time to time. Jaffe seems to be a guy trying too hard to be the craft beer authority. Three Floyd's (Dark Lord) ain't showing up at Wrigley buddy and that's fine.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4444019)
and corporate mandates bottled Leinenkugel Summer Shandy for the next couple of months.

Do you carry Leinenkugel Red? That's what I was partial too when I lived in Chicago.
   12. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: May 15, 2013 at 04:07 PM (#4444033)
I suspect Tupper's isn't easy to get from a distributor since they seem to produce a limited amount, and it's friggin' expensive, but I like their Keller Pils a lot.

Maybe Victory's Prima Pils? I'm not that big a fan, but I've certainly seen it available around DC.
   13. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2013 at 04:07 PM (#4444035)
No. I try to select regional craft beers from my area so Leinies has never been on my menu.
   14. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4444040)
Maybe Victory's Prima Pils? I'm not that big a fan, but I've certainly seen it available around DC.

I tried that one two years ago as I was revamping another hotel's menu and wasn't keen on it. I don't really recall if I ever did find a pilsner. We tasted like 8 of them from this region and couldn't find one we liked. I remember I ended up going with Brooklyn Summer. When I went on vacation we ran out and the distributor ran out so the AF&B Director decided to pick up 3 kegs Troegs Sunshine Pils which did not move at all.

In terms of Philly beer I liked the Yard's Saison and like saisons in general.
   15. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4444049)
Just took a look at my beer book and it looks like the only pilsners available to me outside of a Heavy Seas or Starr Hill one is pilsners from Abita, Redhook (WA), or Victory. It looks like I can get a kolsch from Fordham. Anyone know if that is any good?
   16. Topher Posted: May 15, 2013 at 04:57 PM (#4444099)
Even before making it to the end of the thread, I was going to suggest the Prima Pils. I think it a very good Pilsner and I'm not from the region. And I just looked at the Beer Advocate ratings and it would suggest I'm not alone in thinking that.

Although if you have Allagash White and 60 minute, I'm not sure that you really need any other options ....
   17. BDC Posted: May 15, 2013 at 05:16 PM (#4444122)
I was going to suggest the Prima Pils

So was I, I swear :) There is some in my fridge as I speak, calling me homewards from the office … I wonder if pilsners are simply more alike than other styles: IOW, the decent ones are far above ordinary American lagers, but not so distinct from one another that any given one seems very remarkable. I know that as I wander across Germany in the summer, I have the local Pils wherever I go, and it's always very nice, and I can't even remember the names of the brewers later on (nor do I need to; when I'm back in that locality, I'll just have the local Pils again).
   18. Steve Treder Posted: May 15, 2013 at 05:23 PM (#4444131)
I know that as I wander across Germany in the summer, I have the local Pils wherever I go, and it's always very nice, and I can't even remember the names of the brewers later on (nor do I need to; when I'm back in that locality, I'll just have the local Pils again).

A good rule of thumb is that the best beer is the local beer. Everywhere and always.
   19. The Good Face Posted: May 15, 2013 at 05:29 PM (#4444136)
Just took a look at my beer book and it looks like the only pilsners available to me outside of a Heavy Seas or Starr Hill one is pilsners from Abita, Redhook (WA), or Victory. It looks like I can get a kolsch from Fordham. Anyone know if that is any good?


American craft brewers kind of struggle with pilsner; it's both a really difficult style to execute well and it's probably too close to the watery macrobrews they grew up with. The Heavy Seas Small Craft pilsner is a really good beer, but it's not a traditional pilsner. Brooklyn actually does a drinkable pilsner; nothing amazing, but decent.

Not familiar with Fordham Kolsch. Can you get Captain Lawrence Captain's Kolsch? That's a solid offering.
   20. dr. scott Posted: May 15, 2013 at 05:42 PM (#4444144)
I had a victory pils in Orange, CA that was fantastic, and have not liked it anywhere else since. We get a lot of Trumer Pils (Berkeley, CA/Germany - dual brewery), Lagunitas Pilsner, and Mama's little yellow pils out here in SF.

Abita makes a great brown, Turbo Dog, but Ive never had thier pils.
   21. dr. scott Posted: May 15, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4444146)
Scrimshaw Pilsner from North coast is really quite good... but it does not taste like a tradidtional pils.
   22. McCoy Posted: May 15, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4444167)
Not familiar with Fordham Kolsch. Can you get Captain Lawrence Captain's Kolsch? That's a solid offering.

Didn't see that in either Miller or Bud's book.
   23. Huck Posted: May 15, 2013 at 06:46 PM (#4444185)
Not sure if they sell it at the ballpark - I would hope so - but Great Lakes Brewery in Cleveland is outstanding. Every time I'm there, I try to run over to their taproom and pick up a growler of Commodore Perry or Dortmunder Gold.
   24. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 06:51 PM (#4444187)
Turbo Dog is really good. I don't go out of my way to drink brown ales, but that one in particular has stuck with me.
   25. AndrewJ Posted: May 15, 2013 at 07:11 PM (#4444205)
I generally don't drink at ballgames* so this is pretty irrelevant to me.

* The only execptions were: The first MLB game I went to as an adult (1991), the Phillies matinee where Ryan Howard hit three homers, becoming the first Phillie to have a 50-homer season (2006), and at my first World Series game (G5, 2009).
   26. Shredder Posted: May 15, 2013 at 08:41 PM (#4444249)
I said it on one of the other beer threads, but if your local ballpark is carrying Firestone Walker, that's pretty much all you need. Union Jack is probably the best widely available year round IPA on the planet, and their Pale 31 and DBA are excellent as well. They also have arguably one of the best barrell aging programs outside of Goose Island. That place is really killing it right now. The only thing I'm down on is their oatmeal stout. They need to mass produce a Russian Imperial Stout.

Hitting up the Cigar City Brewery in Tampa on Friday and really looking forward to that.
American craft brewers kind of struggle with pilsner; it's both a really difficult style to execute well and it's probably too close to the watery macrobrews they grew up with.
Pilsners and lagers generally take longer to brew and can be harder to get right as well, and when you've got a small operation, it's kind of foolish to spend time on that kind of stuff if it means forgoing a couple batches of something that sells. Plus, they're not exactly hot commodities in the craft market right now. I, however, love pilsners and kolsches this time of year.
   27. madvillain Posted: May 15, 2013 at 08:43 PM (#4444251)
I, however, love pilsners and kolsches this time of year.


Make it sometime to the Astoria Beer Garden, it's your American based Mecca.
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: May 15, 2013 at 08:48 PM (#4444256)
wrong thread.. GO Budweiser.
   29. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 15, 2013 at 09:13 PM (#4444275)
scott

glad you had a good time and glad the sprecher experience was such a delight

   30. Lassus Posted: May 15, 2013 at 09:50 PM (#4444314)
Every time I try a beer, I re-live my shock that so many people drink something that tastes so unbelievably awful.
   31. Snowboy Posted: May 15, 2013 at 09:55 PM (#4444324)
I was happy to find a craft brew tent in the outfield at Peoria during spring training this year.

And I do not intend to derail the thread, but if you ever find yourself deep in the bowels at Oakland, in a place that has not seen the sun in forever [section 108, I believe] you can find a place that serves the darkest and best of all: Guinness.

Actually, Oakland Alameda Onomatopoeia Coliseum has a reasonable selection of non-Bud Light/Miller Lite/water beers. You don't have to walk too far to find a Fat Tire, and I think they have a few booths that serve Pyramid Breweries selections. Speaking of which, there is a Pyramid Alehouse right across the street from Safeco Field in Seattle, although neither Seattle nor Oakland is mentioned in TFA. So, there, I didn't hijack.
   32. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: May 15, 2013 at 10:35 PM (#4444372)
Pilsners and lagers generally take longer to brew and can be harder to get right as well, and when you've got a small operation, it's kind of foolish to spend time on that kind of stuff if it means forgoing a couple batches of something that sells. Plus, they're not exactly hot commodities in the craft market right now. I, however, love pilsners and kolsches this time of year.

Yeah, the pilsner and lager yeasts are really picky about temperatures and need a bit (okay, a lot) more care than a typical ale. As a newer homebrewer, I'm frightened to even try a lagered beer for quite some time. Just based on what little I know, you have to lager the beer (ferment at colder temps) and then raise the temp for a couple of days before you bottle or keg it. If you do anything wrong, it is going to be very apparent.

Basically, the lighter the beer, the harder they are to brew well.
   33. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 11:16 PM (#4444417)
For a Kolsch in the northeast, try Harpoon Summer. Harpoon is pretty much the new Sam in New England, wide distribution in New England, not sure if they are in NYC, NJ or PA yet.

For Pilsner, that's easy, Pilsner Urquell, inventor of the style. The style was named for the city it was invented it, Plzen, Bohemia (Czech Republic). Still nobody can match the damn near creaminess this beer with the assertive Saaz hop finishing with a rich and complex maltiness with that famous diacetyl. Still nobody can match this *just* perfect addition of diacetyl to this style like the inventor.

At a summer time outdoor sporting event, lagers will always dominate.
   34. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 11:30 PM (#4444427)
Probably one of the key issues with getting wide craft distribution at a large sporting event is the fragile supply chain craft brewers have. Frankly, distributing and selling beer at a sports stadium is the kind of job only a macro brewer can handle (seating 30,000 - 70,000 per event, and in baseball, up to 10 days straight). Some smaller brewers struggle to produce consistent beer, make mistakes in brewing process and have to start over/dump beer, etc... Many just push bad beer out the door, because they can't afford to dump it, though quality of brewing has markedly improved over the past 10 years, so this is less frequent, but still an issue even among strong regional crafts.

The other issue is storage for the ball park. Adding more beer types and brands add logistical complexity for the ball park, some probably don't have the cooler space for extra draft, others may not have floor space for extra varieties of package. That's not to say you can't work around it. But fact is, craft beer tends to be ales, not lagers, these are not exactly top choice on a hot summer day. Selling 5 High Life's will result in more revenue than 2 craft IPAs, that's certainly driving the bus here.

It's not a small task, logistics on both ends. A sports venue can't afford to have a line out of service very often. That said, it is advisable for each ball park to try and have one good location for local beers.

   35. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 11:47 PM (#4444436)
I thought this thread was going to be about mustard.
   36. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 15, 2013 at 11:49 PM (#4444438)
Probably one of the key issues with getting wide craft distribution at a large sporting event is the fragile supply chain craft brewers have. Frankly, distributing and selling beer at a sports stadium is the kind of job only a macro brewer can handle (seating 30,000 - 70,000 per event, and in baseball, up to 10 days straight). Some smaller brewers struggle to produce consistent beer, make mistakes in brewing process and have to start over/dump beer, etc... Many just push bad beer out the door, because they can't afford to dump it, though quality of brewing has markedly improved over the past 10 years, so this is less frequent, but still an issue even among strong regional crafts.


I agree with this. Even the most ardent craft brewers acknowledge how amazing the macro breweries are at turning out a consistent product despite vastly different water supply etc. and primarily producing pilsner where any mistake will be glaringly obvious compared to a dark and hoppy imperial pale ale.
   37. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 12:06 AM (#4444446)
I thought this thread was going to be about mustard.

I had a ridiculously good mustard my friends got at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor. I wish I could remember the name of it.
   38. Shredder Posted: May 16, 2013 at 01:04 AM (#4444474)
you can find a place that serves the darkest and best of all: Guinness.
Ugh. Talk about a beer that's all bark and no bite. Guinness (at least the type sold in this country, I hear the real thing in Ireland is better), is essentially black water. There's a reason they advertise the low ABV and low calories.
   39. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 01:17 AM (#4444477)
Stouts aren't meant to have bite. And a lot of dark beers tend to be surprisingly light on calories. Guinness is a perfectly cromulent mass market beer, and I say that as someone who's drank Guinness on three continents, as well as Ireland. Ireland is slightly better because the original brewery is there and the beer is fresh, and fresh beer is almost always better.
   40. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 01:51 AM (#4444483)
Ugh. Talk about a beer that's all bark and no bite.


This kind of strikes me as a cliffs notes craft drinker cliched comment. Obviously taste is subjective, so maybe that's how you feel about the taste of dry stouts, but Guinness is a very solid dry stout and true to BJCP style. Every beer tastes better at the brewery, including Rouge, for example. Certainly better than the shipped cross country 3,000 miles, sitting in the distributor warehouse for 3-5 months before reaching retail, where it can easily sit for another 5 months and you are getting something much different from the brewery.

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, is actually the best seller for Guinness. It is 50% of their sales and it is barely sold here in the US. This stout will have "bite".

My favorite stout is Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, now this is a stout style that is going to be bolder than a dry stout as more bittering hops are often used, as in Shakespeare which is balanced with an especially elite silky mouth feel on nitro.

   41. something like a train wreck Posted: May 16, 2013 at 04:29 AM (#4444497)
i always thought i hated stout, but i learned that i only hated Guiness. founder's breakfast stought and New Holland's the Poet are delicious.
   42. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: May 16, 2013 at 06:53 AM (#4444514)
Resolved: On a very very hot day, after a few hours spent doing yard work, the very best beer on earth is ice cold Budweiser.

I'll take pro.
   43. McCoy Posted: May 16, 2013 at 07:48 AM (#4444524)
Beer doesn't sit in distributor warehouses for 3-5 months and it is exceedingly rare to come across a beer that has been sitting at a retail place for 5 months. Almost all beer will be between 2 weeks to a month old when they get sent to retail and retail will generally sell that product within a month.
   44. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 08:02 AM (#4444528)
Seconding that the Founder's Breakfast Stout is delicious.

Will not second the motion that Budweiser is the most delicious beer on a hot day after doing yard work, that's when I have my Summer Shandy.
   45. zonk Posted: May 16, 2013 at 08:19 AM (#4444538)
Craft beer week in Chicago... which actually seems to span about 11 days... Looking forward to kicking it off at Local Option tomorrow night...

   46. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 08:52 AM (#4444560)
I had a ridiculously good mustard my friends got at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor.


There's this mustard you can get in a very few places that I love. It's imported from Dusseldorf, Germany and comes in a thing that looks like a little coffee mug. I don't know what's so good about it -- it's not super spicy, or horseradishy, or anything, but it's really great.
   47. McCoy Posted: May 16, 2013 at 09:08 AM (#4444569)
That would be Beer Mug Mustard. You can get it at World Market among other places. It's actually made in Hamburg. It is a Dusseldorf style mustard. Several American companies also make a Dusseldorf style mustard. Seems to be popular in the midwest which makes sense as a lot of Germans settled in that area.
   48. Bourbon Samurai Posted: May 16, 2013 at 09:51 AM (#4444592)
Huh. I love a good mustard. I found some of this recently and it was so delicious I practically wanted to eat it with a spoon. Next time I see some I'm buying them all.
   49. McCoy Posted: May 16, 2013 at 09:54 AM (#4444595)
Our hand-caramelized onions add just the right flavor to a base of Dijon mustard

Those are some hot hands. I'd imagine that process involves a lot of vigorous rubbing.
   50. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 09:57 AM (#4444598)
Beer doesn't sit in distributor warehouses for 3-5 months and it is exceedingly rare to come across a beer that has been sitting at a retail place for 5 months. Almost all beer will be between 2 weeks to a month old when they get sent to retail and retail will generally sell that product within a month.


Mm-hm. Had a conversation with a Sam Adam's distributor overseer not too long ago about this. She was telling me about how SA will buy back beer that has been sitting for too long so no one gets an old batch and doesn't like it. Also about how some stores are required to keep the beer refrigerated (I forget the full details, there were two buying plans she was describing, one managed by SA, one managed by the store).
   51. Ricky Posted: May 16, 2013 at 10:00 AM (#4444602)
Resolved: On a very very hot day, after a few hours spent doing yard work, the very best beer on earth is ice cold Budweiser.


I use Pacifico for this purpose on occasion. Having said that, had a Saison Dupont the other night. For some reason I hadn't tried it before. That is a good summer beer.
   52. McCoy Posted: May 16, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4444603)
Expensive though for a casual summer night of drinking.
   53. Ricky Posted: May 16, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4444605)
True, especially at Gramercy Tavern as I discovered.
   54. McCoy Posted: May 16, 2013 at 10:13 AM (#4444609)
They charge 12 bucks here at my local restaurant for a .375ml Saison Dupont and it is 7 bucks retail for a single bottle or 24 dollars for a 4 pack.
   55. BDC Posted: May 16, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4444621)
Guinness (at least the type sold in this country, I hear the real thing in Ireland is better

Aside from freshness, one of the things that makes Guinness better in Ireland is the surroundings – I don't mean just the auld shebeen, but the outdoor temperature (where you start freezing at 50 and baking at 70) and the oppressive cloud cover and the not-infrequent pissing-down rain. All these things combine to make Guinness a pretty welcome experience :)
   56. Ricky Posted: May 16, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4444632)
They charge 12 bucks here at my local restaurant for a .375ml Saison Dupont and it is 7 bucks retail for a single bottle or 24 dollars for a 4 pack.


I think I paid $13 for mine at the restaurant. I can get a 4 pack (11oz bottles) retail for $13 though.
   57. Shredder Posted: May 16, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4444640)
Seconding that the Founder's Breakfast Stout is delicious.
This is basically what a stout should taste like (their Russian Imperial Stout is great too). It may be a little too strong for some, and for those I would suggest Firestone Walker's Velvet Merlin, which is a little less flavorful, but still pretty good. I just traded a couple of bombers of Bourbon County Stout (1 coffee and 1 vanilla) for a four pack of Kentucky Breakfast Stout and a couple cans of Heady Topper. I heard that this year's batch of KBS wasn't that great though. I still have about a case of this year's Bourbon County Stout, which is excellent.

Also, if you like barrel aged stuff, I think this years version of Central Waters' Bourbon Barrel Barleywine is off the charts good. Really well balanced between the barleywine and the bourbon. Goose is supposed to be doing a Bourbon County Barleywine soon, and if the difference between that and the Central Waters version is as vast as the difference between BCS and the CW bourbon barrel stout (which is just average, in my opinion), it's going to be amazing.

As for Russian Imperial Stouts, if you can get Oskar Blues in your area, probably the best widely available RIS is their Ten Fiddy. I like it just a little bit more than North Coast's Old Rasputin.
   58. Rusty Priske Posted: May 16, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4444641)
If the poll was about ranking the 'regular' beer served at the park, it would have to be #1 Toronto, #2 everybody else because that watered garbage that most Americans drink is just awful.


But this poll is clearly not about that and I know that the U.S. has come a long way since my early drinking days in the brewing arts...
   59. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4444654)
I can get a 4 pack (11oz bottles) retail for $13 though.


That is a very good price. Where do you get it?
   60. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4444655)
Aside from freshness, one of the things that makes Guinness better in Ireland is the surroundings – I don't mean just the auld shebeen, but the outdoor temperature (where you start freezing at 50 and baking at 70) and the oppressive cloud cover and the not-infrequent pissing-down rain. All these things combine to make Guinness a pretty welcome experience :)


Agreed - it's definitely a winter beer for me. I very rarely get it in the summer. Good for stews too, which are another tasty winter treat.
   61. Ricky Posted: May 16, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4444659)
That is a very good price. Where do you get it?


Local totalwine.
   62. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 11:55 AM (#4444683)
All these things combine to make Guinness a pretty welcome experience


Yeah, it's definitely not a nice summer day beer, but it's great when the sun is going down at 5pm and the weather is just warm enough so you're getting a face full of freezing rain instead of snow. If you're from a sunnier/warmer climate, it's not going to seem as great. San Diego, for example, probably doesn't have much call for Guinness.

But this poll is clearly not about that and I know that the U.S. has come a long way since my early drinking days in the brewing arts...


At this point I'd put America against any country for beer. The Germans and Belgians still have a few styles that they're the best at, but the USA has a lot of people doing a lot of interesting things with beer. Of course despite explosive growth over the last decade it's still only like 6% of the beer market in the US.
   63. BDC Posted: May 16, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4444736)
ranking the 'regular' beer served at the park

Incidentally, if you want a contrast that may also prove the superiority of baseball to football, try getting beer at the Ballpark in Arlington as opposed to Cowboys Stadium.

At the Ballpark they sell a lot of Bud and Miller and Coors light and Bud Lite Lime, but with modest effort you can also find Ziegenbock, Honkers, Blue Moon & Shock Top, Hoegaarden, Rahr's, St, Arnold, Shiner, and Real Ale beers, Franconia, and yes, Guinness. Not a beer paradise, but I think we've reached a level that can satisfy both tourists and regulars.

At Cowboys Stadium, I've seen one or two stands that seem to have a Leinenkugel tap or something else fairly ordinary and random. Every other beer in the stadium, and there are probably a million bottles on sale on any given Sunday, is either Miller Lite or Miller Genuine Draft. They are lined up in cooler after cooler in mind-numbing uniform rows. Amazing that in such a palace of capitalism, you get a completely east-bloc beer selection. What am I saying, I bet the beer in the old DDR featured considerably more choice.

My favorite recent beer story: I'm passing the Beers of Texas stand at the Ballpark. An out-of-town Red Sox fan is staring at the taps and saying "This is all DRAFT beer. I can't drink this." His son-in-law (I reckon) says, "That's OK, dad, we can get you a bottle here. We'll get you whatever's closest to Ultra. What's closest to Ultra?" he asks the beer guy. Beer guy looks at his cooler of Shiner Bock and shrugs. I feel like saying "closest to Ultra, hell, there's a water fountain right over there."

   64. McCoy Posted: May 16, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4444743)
Miller is east coast?
   65. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 12:43 PM (#4444758)
Eastern Bloc as in Warsaw Pact, not east coast as in the Atlantic seaboard.
   66. McCoy Posted: May 16, 2013 at 12:44 PM (#4444760)
Ah.
   67. Adam S Posted: May 16, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4444925)
At this point I'd put America against any country for beer. The Germans and Belgians still have a few styles that they're the best at, but the USA has a lot of people doing a lot of interesting things with beer. Of course despite explosive growth over the last decade it's still only like 6% of the beer market in the US


I agree with this and I'm European. My British friends look at me like I have three heads when I say so, since remarkably little of the good stuff gets exported. Sierra Nevada, which I'm very partial to so this is in no way a dig, would be considered an exotic and esoteric American beer in the UK.

I'd say AT+T is the best beer park because of being able to carry in beer from Public House at lower than ballpark prices (There's a turnstile in the pub so you don't have to take the beer outside). PH has 20ish beers on tap and always has an interesting selection. Last game I went to in April I carried in an Allagash Black. Current list - it changes a lot - is at http://publichousesf.com/menu/
   68. Brian Posted: May 16, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4444974)
Can you get Captain Lawrence Captain's Kolsch? That's a solid offering.


I will definitely second this endorsement. CL makes a few different beers that very good and their Kolsch is one of their best. Made in Westchester.
   69. I am going to be Frank Posted: May 16, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4445007)
When I was in London, every bar seemed to have cider (I think it was Magners) on tap. That struck me as weird. Generally the beer selection was terrible.
   70. BDC Posted: May 16, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4445014)
When I was in London, every bar seemed to have cider (I think it was Magners) on tap. That struck me as weird. Generally the beer selection was terrible

Do you find English beer terrible to begin with, or were you in some Bermuda Triangle of the London pub world where you could only get cider and Bass and Stella? :)

One local Texas Kölsch that I like is Peticolas Golden Opportunity. It's a funny name, and I've only ever had it on tap at unexpected places, and I've never seen any other beer by Peticolas (they're a Dallas craft brewery). It's like, if you happen to see it in a bar, it really is your golden opportunity.
   71. I am going to be Frank Posted: May 16, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4445044)
Well Guinness was universally available (I know its Irish) but I need to be in the mood for it. I don't recall seeing Bass or Newcastle, and I like Bass. I remember a lot of bars serving Kronenbourg, the French version of German beer, a Spanish beer that escapes my mind and Budweiser. I wasn't sure if that was American Budweiser or Czech Budweiser. The area I was in was a little touristy but it wasn't like I was next to eye or London Bridge.
   72. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 04:20 PM (#4445045)
Beer doesn't sit in distributor warehouses for 3-5 months and it is exceedingly rare to come across a beer that has been sitting at a retail place for 5 months. Almost all beer will be between 2 weeks to a month old when they get sent to retail and retail will generally sell that product within a month.


Macro beers, Coors/Miller/Bud have the highest velocity, these can move quick at high velocity retail, especially draft and rarely sit around. These brands might sit for 2-3 months, on occasion, at the warehouse if retail has piles of packaged beer sitting on the floor, often due to volume discounting, retailers will stock up--fail to sell all of it and place small orders for months. Lots of factors lead to old beer. Happens often, mostly in the smaller brands, slower sellers....which is most craft, but Bud isn't immune to this. I bet your local store has some old Black Crown sitting there right now.

Craft and especially seasonal craft beers often have inventory sit around the warehouse for months, sit at retail for months and it often gets picked up when it goes out of code. Seasonal beers are a crap shoot. This is common, this is what deflated the last craft boom 10-15 years ago. I can take you to several warehouses that still have piles of Shipyard Pumpkin from 2012. Go to some slower moving package stores and I guarantee there is old beer sitting there. Sometimes new breweries make a bad batch and sell it anyway, they can't afford to eat the loss....this beer will collect dust. Though this kind of aged inventory is rare today since brewing quality across the board has improved. Still, inventory management is not a perfect science.
   73. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 04:27 PM (#4445054)
Mm-hm. Had a conversation with a Sam Adam's distributor overseer not too long ago about this. She was telling me about how SA will buy back beer that has been sitting for too long so no one gets an old batch and doesn't like it. Also about how some stores are required to keep the beer refrigerated (I forget the full details, there were two buying plans she was describing, one managed by SA, one managed by the store).


Sam, Coors and less so Bud, will buy back inventory, they have the highest quality standards and are sold largely on consistency. It is cost prohibitive for most smaller brewers to do this. Old beer is very common. It is less common for a brand to have consistently "fresh" beer across retail. Remember, part of the problem here is crappy retailers that have no clue how to manage their own stock rooms. Lots of reasons old beer isn't rare.
   74. Shredder Posted: May 16, 2013 at 04:35 PM (#4445066)
At this point I'd put America against any country for beer. The Germans and Belgians still have a few styles that they're the best at, but the USA has a lot of people doing a lot of interesting things with beer.
If I never drank another import again, I'd probably be fine with that. Hell, if I never drank anything brewed more than 350 miles from Chicago, I'd still be more than content with the selection. I'd miss out on some great West Coast beers, but I could probably go months without drinking anything from further away than Munster, IN and never get bored. Hell, Half-Acre, Revolution, and Pipeworks are all under 2.5 miles from my apartment, and they would probably be enough.
   75. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 04:35 PM (#4445067)
#63...

Part of the reason baseball has more craft than football is the logistics and old beer issue. Baseball's schedule allows you to take more risk in ordering a larger variety of beers and tapping a larger variety of kegs. In football, you can't spend as much on smaller beers and you certainly can't tap the more obscure kegs since you might have to wait weeks to sell that beer again and I'm certain there is no way they are going to refrigerate a half full tapped keg (expensive too) of craft beer for the weeks until the team returns. That's going to be booked as a loss. Those stadium lines are often several 100s of feet long and you just can't shut it down for weeks and return to pouring beer like nothing happened. They are cleaned out and some times there are dozens of beers sitting in those lines.

Also the fact I pointed out above, only a small handful of breweries by back beer. Sam made this their point of difference way back and it has worked nicely for them. Almost nobody buys back 100% of seasonable beers like Sam does.

   76. Flynn Posted: May 16, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4445127)
Well Guinness was universally available (I know its Irish) but I need to be in the mood for it. I don't recall seeing Bass or Newcastle, and I like Bass. I remember a lot of bars serving Kronenbourg, the French version of German beer, a Spanish beer that escapes my mind and Budweiser. I wasn't sure if that was American Budweiser or Czech Budweiser. The area I was in was a little touristy but it wasn't like I was next to eye or London Bridge.


You must have drank in a lot of tourist trap pubs then. London pubs don't last very long (or acquire well-deserved reputations as crap pubs) if they don't have quite a few cask ales, which is where all the good beer is.

   77. BDC Posted: May 16, 2013 at 05:14 PM (#4445137)
Very interesting, Lion! Among other things, you have validated my habit of obsessively checking the stock at the store and only ever buying what's just come in. I don't even think I buy much beer, but I can tell you what's been sitting there stinking on ice :)
   78. Flynn Posted: May 16, 2013 at 05:16 PM (#4445140)
I agree with this and I'm European. My British friends look at me like I have three heads when I say so, since remarkably little of the good stuff gets exported. Sierra Nevada, which I'm very partial to so this is in no way a dig, would be considered an exotic and esoteric American beer in the UK.


I wouldn't go that far nowadays, Sierra Nevada is pretty easy to find and American craft beer is hugely trendy in London. The problem is that it's very expensive (you can get Sierra Nevada at Tesco or Sainsburys now, but it's about £1.30 a bottle) and the selection does suck. It seems the only American beers you can find (unless you make a pilgrimage to Utobier) are Sierra/Anchor Steam/Goose Island/Sam Adams/Brooklyn Lager. Really, that's it.
   79. The Good Face Posted: May 16, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4445157)
If I never drank another import again, I'd probably be fine with that. Hell, if I never drank anything brewed more than 350 miles from Chicago, I'd still be more than content with the selection. I'd miss out on some great West Coast beers, but I could probably go months without drinking anything from further away than Munster, IN and never get bored. Hell, Half-Acre, Revolution, and Pipeworks are all under 2.5 miles from my apartment, and they would probably be enough.


American craft brewers have too many holes in their game for me to ever give up my German/Belgian beers. Horses for courses; if I want an IPA or an Imperial Stout, it's USA all the way. But U.S. craft brewers do a lousy job of making subtle, well-balanced lagers/pilsners. Sometimes you just want a well-made beer that's crisp, flavorful and refreshing, but not clocking in at 6.5% ABV+. Plus there are some European offerings that US makers either don't bother with or can't seem to execute consistently; Flemish sour ales, Weizenbocks (I couldn't get through a winter without my Aventinus), etc.
   80. McCoy Posted: May 16, 2013 at 05:35 PM (#4445168)
I wouldn't go that far nowadays, Sierra Nevada is pretty easy to find and American craft beer is hugely trendy in London. The problem is that it's very expensive (you can get Sierra Nevada at Tesco or Sainsburys now, but it's about £1.30 a bottle) and the selection does suck. It seems the only American beers you can find (unless you make a pilgrimage to Utobier) are Sierra/Anchor Steam/Goose Island/Sam Adams/Brooklyn Lager. Really, that's it.

My cousin set me picture he took of Yuengling being sold in some grocery store in South England. I think it was something like 20 pounds for a 12 pack or some such outrageous thing.
   81. The Good Face Posted: May 16, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4445171)
My cousin set me picture he took of Yuengling being sold in some grocery store in South England. I think it was something like 20 pounds for a 12 pack or some such outrageous thing.


/cryingindian.jpg
   82. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 11:42 PM (#4445453)
But U.S. craft brewers do a lousy job of making subtle, well-balanced lagers/pilsners. Sometimes you just want a well-made beer that's crisp, flavorful and refreshing, but not clocking in at 6.5% ABV+


This is my general complaint with American Craft, as the Hop Wars and IPA fests get old pretty fast. There are some good lagers to be had, but as Lion noted above, even with the ones I've discovered the consistency isn't always there, and yes, the old beer problem too. Beer date checks a must. My two favorite craft Lagers, Riverwest Stein (from the aforementioned Lakefront Brewery) an Amber Lager, and New Glarus' Totally Naked and Two Women, both a great after mowing the lawn type of beer. Bell's makes a good one too 'Falls Lager?' but not exactly 'sessionable' it was pretty potent IIRC.
   83. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 16, 2013 at 11:59 PM (#4445462)
Bringing it back to the mustard topic, the mustard I had was a Moutarde au Cognac, but I can't find the actual producer. Still, it made me realize how much more there was to the world of mustard than just spicy brown, dijon, and yellow.
   84. McCoy Posted: May 17, 2013 at 12:24 AM (#4445479)
Was it in that bottle or in a different bottle?
   85. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 17, 2013 at 12:35 AM (#4445484)
Damn Scott, you were just in WI, you could've gone to the National Mustard Museum in Middleton (near Madison). You can order all kinds.


Mustard Museum
   86. Swedish Chef Posted: May 17, 2013 at 02:38 AM (#4445502)
This is my general complaint with American Craft, as the Hop Wars and IPA fests get old pretty fast.

Saw this float by just now and thought of this thread:
Hop rant
   87. Shredder Posted: May 17, 2013 at 02:43 AM (#4445504)
This is my general complaint with American Craft, as the Hop Wars and IPA fests get old pretty fast.
This comment is kind of funny considering all of the biggest beer release festivals (aside from maybe Pliny the Younger) have nothing to do with hoppy beers or IPAs. They're all based around Russian Imperial Stouts.
   88. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: May 17, 2013 at 08:38 AM (#4445543)
My girlfriend and I are about to take a trip from New Hampshire down to New York, then DC, then up to Philadelphia, then back home. Any tips for good breweries to visit along the way?
   89. GregD Posted: May 17, 2013 at 09:35 AM (#4445576)
I used to really like going to Yards in Philly but it's been a few years so someone can probably say what it's like now. In Delaware Dogfish. If you for some reason--no reason--end up heading west Troegs in Harrisburg.

If you're in the city, going to hang at Brooklyn Brewery is fun--you can bring in your own food and they have stuff there you wouldn't find many other places, but lots of their stuff is now made offsite. Sixpoint is still not doing tours because of the hurricane.
   90. The Good Face Posted: May 17, 2013 at 09:42 AM (#4445582)
This is my general complaint with American Craft, as the Hop Wars and IPA fests get old pretty fast.

This comment is kind of funny considering all of the biggest beer release festivals (aside from maybe Pliny the Younger) have nothing to do with hoppy beers or IPAs. They're all based around Russian Imperial Stouts.


Different style, but same problem, only with malt instead of hops. The issue I have with many America craft brewers is they suffer from "too much-itis". Whether it's hops, malt, or ABV, the problem remains the same. I don't have anything against "big" beers, I often enjoy them a great deal, but it would be nice to see American craft brewers produce some more balanced beers in the lager/pilsner style.
   91. McCoy Posted: May 17, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4445586)
Are you coming through on a Saturday? Most of the small breweries only do tours and tastings on Saturday. If you're in DC on a Saturday you can hit up all three breweries in the city with ease. DC Brau, Chocolate City, and 3 Stars. You can then head out to the burbs on your way up to Philly and stop at Port City in Alexandria if you want (not the best of the best but it is very near the highway) and if you're driving on a non-Saturday you could stop off at Dogfish Head Alehouse in either Falls Church or Gaithersburg to try Dogfish Head's brews. If you're not in DC on Saturday you can stop off at Capitol City Brewing Co which is a brewpub in DC by the convention center.

On your way up to Philly or down to DC you can stop off at Flying Dog in Frederick, MD which has tours and tastings Thursday through Saturday. Heavy Seas does tours and tastings on Saturday in Halethorpe, MD just outside Baltimore.

In NYC you have Brooklyn Brewery which does tours all week long.

In Philly you have Yards which does tastings Monday through Saturday and tours on the weekends. You also have Victory in Downington, PA which has a restaurant. You have of course Yuengling in Pottsville, PA but it is kind of out of the way.
   92. The Fallen Reputation of Billy Jo Robidoux Posted: May 17, 2013 at 09:51 AM (#4445594)
Damn Scott, you were just in WI, you could've gone to the National Mustard Museum in Middleton (near Madison). You can order all kinds.


And walk to Capital Brewery a couple of blocks away.
   93. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 17, 2013 at 10:17 AM (#4445609)
Was it in that bottle or in a different bottle?


That bottle.

Damn Scott, you were just in WI, you could've gone to the National Mustard Museum in Middleton (near Madison).


If only I'd known!

The issue I have with many America craft brewers is they suffer from "too much-itis".


This is a fair cop. There's enough American craft brewers that you still can get some well balanced stuff, but on the whole you're absolutely right.

if you're driving on a non-Saturday you could stop off at Dogfish Head Alehouse in either Falls Church or Gaithersburg to try Dogfish Head's brews.


I'd definitely recommend this.
   94. McCoy Posted: May 17, 2013 at 10:20 AM (#4445611)
That bottle.

You can always give the shop that made that photo their Facebook cover a call and find out the name of the brand.
   95. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: May 17, 2013 at 10:20 AM (#4445613)
Thanks, guys. We won't be in DC on a Saturday unfortunately, but I'll definitely check out some of the other ones mentioned.
   96. McCoy Posted: May 17, 2013 at 10:23 AM (#4445618)
Or you know you could actually just buy it from Zingerman's directly
   97. McCoy Posted: May 17, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4445624)
Domaine de Terres Rouges

They have a million different kinds of mustards.
   98. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: May 17, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4445656)
This is my general complaint with American Craft, as the Hop Wars and IPA fests get old pretty fast. There are some good lagers to be had, but as Lion noted above, even with the ones I've discovered the consistency isn't always there, and yes, the old beer problem too. Beer date checks a must. My two favorite craft Lagers, Riverwest Stein (from the aforementioned Lakefront Brewery) an Amber Lager, and New Glarus' Totally Naked and Two Women, both a great after mowing the lawn type of beer. Bell's makes a good one too 'Falls Lager?' but not exactly 'sessionable' it was pretty potent IIRC.

As others have pointed out, why make a really difficult brew that probably isn't going to sell very well? Most of the smallish (think nano level) have to turn over beer quickly to at least break even. Honestly, I'm not going to visit a tap room to drink a lager or pilsner when I can go to my local supermarket and get some of the best examples of those beer in the world at a relatively inexpensive price (you might not like Bud, Miller, or Coors but they are consistent and good examples of the style).

Think about it this way, a "normal" ale (4.5 - 6.0%) is going to take about 3 weeks to ferment (I imagine places like Stone do it even quicker). A lager takes about that long to ferment and then you have to lager it for another 3 weeks before it even can get bottled or kegged. Your typical nano place only has so many fermenters (and not a great place to lager I would imagine - ferments aren't mobile at a brewery). In the time it takes to make a lager, you can turn over a couple of "regular" ales.

I do agree that alot of craft breweries strive to make the hoppiest or the biggest beers possible. My buddies and I went to a joint a few months back and I think the "lightest" of their brews was like 8.0%. Everything was just too harsh. Their red was way too hoppy and too hot (ie you, can taste the alcohol). Reds should be malty and the hops should be damn near unnoticeable. We walked across the street to another place that did more girly like beers (like a creamsicle ale) and it was much more enjoyable. We enjoy big beers, but sometimes too much is just too much.

One think i will quibble with a bit about beer date checks is that it depends on the style. Lagers and pilsners really do need to be consumed quickly. IPAs and wheat beers (dunkels, hefes, etc) also are best enjoyed at a younger age. Some of your heavier beers (like RIS, Porters, Belgians) aren't going to suffer too much if they aren't rotated quickly and might even taste better if they sit on the shelf at a consistent temp for a while.

Oh, and if you are ever at a brewhouse and want a lagerish type of beer and they don't have it, you can't go wrong with a blonde or cream ale. Cream ales are about as close as you are going to get to a lighter ale (maybe Kolsch as well) that is similar to a lager.

Full disclosure: I generally agree with your sentiments on beer. I started homebrewing a while back and the first thing I brewed was a blonde ale because it came with my kit. I can't remember the last time I actually went out and tried a blonde ale on purpose, but trying to find a bottle of blonde ale to compare mine to at a place like BevMo was impossible. If you want to find a hoppy IPA, great. Big porters and stouts are easy to find, too. Anyhow, finding a good example of some of the beers that I have since brewed has been tough. Not many craft breweries make just a standard scottish ale (they make bigger scotch ales) or an English bitter.
   99. The George Sherrill Selection Posted: May 17, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4445658)
Meanwhile two days ago: Pyramid has a seasonal beer called Curve Ball that used to be labeled as a kolsch; now (according to their site) it's a "blonde ale." Kolsch could be described as that (since it IS an ale.) It wasn't bad, drinkable but not as good as the real kolsch I had in Koln.

I usually end up drinking hefeweizen during warm weather/baseball season. Widmer is pretty good.
   100. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: May 17, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4445661)
This comment is kind of funny considering all of the biggest beer release festivals (aside from maybe Pliny the Younger) have nothing to do with hoppy beers or IPAs. They're all based around Russian Imperial Stouts.


I guess I forgot about that style as well being overplayed to me. A good style, but the 'in crowd' of beer is a little narrow minded me thinks or at least too dismissive of lagers/pilsners. I think the truth is it is too ####### hard to pull it off consistently for some of the craft brewers.

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