I’m a Yankees fan, but sometimes my friends can talk me into joining them for a nice and relaxing minor league baseball game. Such was the case when I made my first visit to the Mets’ new Citi Field last week. A visit that I eagerly anticipated–not for the baseball, but rather upon learning that Garrett Oliver had crafted some special brews for the ballpark’s Danny Meyer-owned concession stands. This was especially exciting considering new Yankee Stadium’s lackluster beer and food selections.
Shackmeister Ale (The Shake Shack)
The most “famous” of Citi’s beer and food selections, this pale ale is also available at Manhattan’s two Shake Shack locations. Just like its out-in-the-real-world counterparts, The Shake Shack concession is known for its overwhelmingly long lines, up to two or three innings waits I have been told. Thus, I had no plans to stand single file with the hoi polloi, especially considering I find the highly-regarded Shack burger to be just a tad overrated (Lucky’s in Hell’s Kitchen has a burgerstand burger just as good and the wait will be like a hour less for you). However, that all changed when a light rain delay sent the crowds home early and I was able to unzip the nylon ropes, slap the stanchions out of my way, and march straight to the front of the line where Dat (pictured above) gave me a foamy pint of the Shackmeister as well as some acupuncture advice (thanks, Dat, my lumbar region has never felt better). The Shackmeister is a solid enough beer, quite tasty with nicely balanced English malts and Glacier hops, and an unexpected lemony zest and summery spiciness.
Blanche de Queens (Box Frites)
I’m a sucker for common foods pronounced in their fancy European way–just makes them taste better–and such is the case with Belgian frites. Most unfortunately, it’s a crime against Jean-Claude Van Damme to call these anything more than frozen bagged American french fries dropped into a ballpark frialator. Available with countless dipping sauces, I was excited when the girl gave me an extra tub of their bacon mayo “just for bein’ cute,” but a few minutes later I would realize she had probably been hired for a contract hit against me by some angry Leinenkugel enthusiasts. The bacon mayo is surely one of the most ghastly things to enter my mouth in a while. Luckily, it’s “paired” witbier, the only-available-in-Citi(-at-least-under-this-name) Blanche de Queens is a helluva of swell ballpark brew. Very yeasty and full-bodied, at first I thought this might be a saison with it’s spiciness and smooth drinkability. I grew bored of it after my first pint, but it’s still a terrific hot weather beer, a perfect example of what a Blue Moon could taste like under a master craftsman’s hands. I think your macro-loving friends will enjoy this one.
Sabrosa Ale (El Verano Taqueria)
The shortest line in the centerfield foodcourt is for the taco stand, but it shouldn’t be, as the food got rave reviews from my crew. And its paired Citi-only beer was the evening’s clear winner as well. The taste I could only describe as being that of a very flavorful and spicy lager*, like Brooklyn Lager mixed with a packet of taco seasonings. A perfect complement to Mexican food but delicious on its own as well. This is a beer I would gladly drink at normal bars and even buy bottled. Very nice. It’s great to have such desirable offerings at a ballpark.
A few notes:
I never got around to having the Blue Smoke BBQ stand’s special blended beer, but that’s easily had at its Manhattan restaurant.
All the Brooklyn beers at Citi are a reasonable $7.50 while the cruddy Buds and what-have-yous are $6.
The concession workers are really happy and nice, and don’t even mind some a-hole holding up the lengthy lines to take pictures of taps.
*For the record, the one review of Sabrosa on Beer Advocate calls it an American Pale Ale, but I’m somewhat dubious of that style listing for the time being.