Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A beer drinker’s guide to Fenway Park

The Toucher & Rich show on 98.5 The Sports Hub ran their March Badness bracket, a bracket of the worst of Boston sports. This year’s winner was $10 beers at Fenway Park. I’ve been to three games at Fenway this year. The beers aren’t quite $10. At most stands it’s $9.25, or $9.75 for “craft”. Craft is in quotes because several of the beers that are marketed and sold for “craft” prices do not meet the Brewers Association’s definition of craft.

Nice night at the ballpark!

What I am not going to do is whine about beer prices. Yes, beer prices are obscene, but as a capitalist it is up to me to choose whether or not to voluntarily exchange my $9.75 for a beer. If the club decides that they would make more money by selling more beer for a lower price, they will lower prices. If they think that high beer prices are hurting attendance, they will lower the price of beer. I know my bank account didn’t take such a beating after going to three games in April, I would be more inclined to go to more games the rest of the season. That is a business decision for the Red Sox to make.

Two years ago the Washington Post conducted a thorough ranking of the best and worst beer selections at all 30 MLB ballparks. At that time the Red Sox ranked 22nd. In the past two years my hunch is that draught offerings have gotten worse.

I know when I walk around the concourse looking for a beer stand, I also am looking at tap handles to determine what beer is at what stand. This season I’ve sat in the right field roof box, right field grandstand, and third base grandstand. From walking around almost every corner of the park this month, it appears Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB) taps are everywhere. I would expect to see a lot of Budweiser and Bud Light, but I have also seen a lot of Blue Point Toasted Lager. It is like AB is trying to compete with Samuel Adams on Sam’s home turf with a Vienna Lager of its own.

I enjoy Blue Point, Goose IPA, and even Budweiser, but there are local offerings if you search them out. There are a few Samuel Adams taps. Fenway Park usually has Summer Ale on tap on Opening Day. Beyond that, local beers like Wachusett, Harpoon, and Narragansett are available in cans. This season, even though I haven’t seen it yet, Jack’s Abby House Lager is available at Fenway. The cans are kept in coolers behind the counter, or on the ground. You can’t just look for tap handles. You have to look and ask what is available. If the draught beer selection is limited, the can selection is better.

I understand that most fans will want Bud Light and the like, but I do wish the Red Sox would expand their craft beer offerings. Even if they just set up a couple “local craft” beer stands for some of the newer and more sought-after beers and breweries like Trillium or Night Shift. One stand in the Big Concourse in right field and another in left field would be a massive improvement. I would probably pay $10.75 for 12 ounces of Fort Point Pale Ale at the ballpark if I could.
Around the park, Tasty Burger is one of my favorite spots. The burgers, fries, and onion rings are all among my favorites. They have a solid selection of local craft beers include Notch Session Pils and Left of the Dial. Boston Beer Works is also around the corner. After the game they have tubs filled with cans of Bunker Hill Blueberry you can grab quickly on the way in, or you can venture to their huge bar if you want to check out their draught offerings. 

The Lower Depths in Kenmore Square is one of Boston’s best craft beer bars, and is also within walking distance of the park. I haven’t been there before or after a game because I usually park on Jersey Street. With Yawkey Way closed it is a pain to get to.
If I had to boil down the beer drinker’s experience to a few bullet points it would be: imbibe before the game if you want to save money, look for the cans behind the counter, and check out some of the spots around the park before or after the game.
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