There have been a lot of articles about craft beer offerings at ballparks in the past couple of years. And a lot of efforts to rank the ballparks by beer selection. Beer is a pretty subjective topic, though, so a lot of that is hit and miss. I think this article at the Washington Post today, however, is the most definitive ranking/offering listing I’ve seen, and does a great job of contextualizing craft beer and its place in major league ballparks.
The rankings are based on (1) quality, as defined by Beer Advocate rankings; (2) locality, as in how much beer is from nearby; and (3) uniqueness of offerings. Then an overall raking is compiled.
The top ranked ballpark for craft beer: Safeco in Seattle. That’s not surprising based on what people have told me about the place. The article notes just how committed that park is to craft beer and how, next year, they’re going to offer suggested food pairings at each concession stand. Seattle is turning into a must-visit for me.
The two parks I go to most — Comerica Park in Detroit and Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati — rank 6th and 2nd, respectively. Comerica has a fantastic area devoted to Michigan’s many excellent craft beers behind the right field foul pole. I make a beeline there each time I take a trip up there. It probably gets knocked down a bit due to the fact that craft beers are more or less confined to that part of the park while Miller/Coors products are everywhere else. As the article notes, Cincinnati made a big, big commitment to craft beer this year by installing a looooong bar on the third base line with tons and tons of both local and national craft taps of outrageously high quality. It was a total game-changer for a park that, until recently, was pretty meh as far as it goes. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable a trip to Cincy is for a ballgame knowing that treat is waiting for me.
Maybe the biggest takeaway from the article, however, is this passage:
Counting single-day offerings, the Cincinnati Reds’ selection of distinct beers went from 42 to more than 130 – the most in Major League Baseball, according to a Washington Post analysis. Craft sales increased even more dramatically, by 363 percent. The biggest-selling beer at the Brewery District is still Bud Light – not exactly a craft product – but stadium officials found that rather than taking away from existing beer sales, craft consumers were actually creating a new category.
There are a lot of laws around the country which put craft brewers at a disadvantage compared to large brewers or otherwise seek to stifle the growth of the craft industry. Many ballparks — especially those with big beer tie-ins in their name — are less-than-receptive to craft beer as well. I suppose on some level the rise of craft beer is a threat to the big brewers, but it’s not a direct threat and it’s not a zero sum game. One would hope that, in light of this, things would be a bit less tense out in the world of beer. But I suppose that’s asking too much.
(Thanks to Josh R. for the heads up)