Much like modern times have divided baseball fans into two groups — the old-school types vs. the Sabermetric crowd — today's world has created two very different circles of beer drinkers.
There are the people who always choose the name they know, who are loyal to Budweiser and Coors and maybe the rare Corona. They have no problem plopping down $12 for a Coors Light at a ballgame, but will buy whichever 12-pack is the cheapest on a Saturday night.
Then there are the craft-beer drinkers, the elitists, the people who value smaller, independent breweries and who give credence to the "drink local" mantra whether they're in their hometown or on vacation. These beer drinkers have no problem trying something they can't pronounce from a brewery they've never heard of. In fact, they're often proud of that.
So when we say the Seattle Mariners have the best beer selection in MLB according to a recent study by the Washington Post, it doesn't mean they offer the most of Budweiser's flavors. It means Safeco Field might rank up there against a beer nerd's favorite brewpub in terms of diversity. And when we say the New York Yankees ranked 30th in The Post's study, that means Yankee Stadium has the most generic beer offerings in baseball. If you like America's most popular beer brands, that's not necessarily a problem for you.
The Post's study, coordinated by writer Dan Steinberg, is a fun one. It gathered the beer menus from all 30 MLB stadiums, then used Beer Advocate's rankings to compare them, also giving weight to beer made within the team's home state and the uniqueness of that beer within MLB. Because, you know, it's cooler if no other team serves it.
The Mariners scored the No. 1 overall ranking because they have the most unique beers and the most local beers — the Pacific Northwest is a hot-spot for craft beer, so that certainly helps. The M's ranked fourth in quality, though. That's why the Cincinnati Reds deserve a shout-out here too. The Reds finished second overall, but first in quality, meaning the Reds serve the best beers in baseball. The rest of the top five: The Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles.
The Post's study is accompanied by a fun, customizable infographic that you can use to sort out the rankings. But even more fun: you can compare the beer selection at any two stadiums, and see where teams rank across the four categories assessed. Go play with it. Seriously.
As for what makes Seattle so good, here's a great post from Washington Beer Blog that examines the menu. And below is The Post's explanation of the Mariners' beer practices:
About 70 percent of Safeco Field’s 700 beer handles are devoted to “good, quality craft beer,” according to Steve Dominguez, the general manager of Centerplate's operations at Safeco Field. Sales of craft-style products crush those of domestic-style mass market beers, by a ratio of about 4-1. The stadium bought three cask engines this year to allow for cask-conditioned ales throughout the stadium, and they offer a hearty list of 22-ounce craft bombers from breweries like Pyramid, Oskar Blues, No-Li and Rogue. Next year, the stadium plans to introduce recommended beer-and-food pairings throughout its concession stands.
“At the end of the day, we have to put out a product our guests want,” Dominguez said. “They want quality, they want flavor, they know what they want and they’re going to get it.”
In Seattle, customers also want local, from locally raised meat to local seafood to local beer. Seattle sells beers from 20 breweries based in the state of Washington, the highest number of in-state offerings in Major League Baseball, according to The Post’s data. That includes many brews that get high ratings on the user-generated Web site BeerAdvocate.com, such as Fremont Brewing Company’s Summer Ale and Bale Breaker’s Field 41.
“The Seattle market is about supporting the community,” Dominguez said. “Fortunately, we live in an area where craft brewing kind of started. There’s just a ton of local appeal here, and we have a real niche, because a lot of these great breweries only do craft beers.”
The last-place Yankees, by comparison, don't carry a whole lot outside the Budweiser or Coors families. That's one of the reasons the Yankees finished 30th overall, 30th in locality, 29th in quality and 27th in uniqueness. The Yankees' entire list, via The Post, is below.
Amstel, Becks, Budweiser, Bud Black Crown, Bud Light, Bud Light Lime, Bud Light Platinum, Bud Lime-A-Rita, Bud Mango-Rita, Batch 19, Becks, Blue Moon, Blue Moon Seasonal, Coors Light, Corona Light, Dos Equis, Goose Island, Goose Island 312, Goose Island Honkers, Guinness, Guinness Black Lager, Heineken, Heineken Light, Hoegaarden, Kirin Ichiban, Leinenkugel, Magic Hat #9, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite, Modelo, Newcastle, O’Doul’s, Presidente, Red Bridge, Redds Apple Ale, Shock Top, Shock Top Apple, Shock Top Lemonade, Smithwick’s, Stella Artois and Yuengling.
Blue Moon, despite some peoples' belief that it's a craft beer, is actually a Coors product. Goose Island started in Chicago as a small brewery, but sold to Budweiser's parent company, Anheuser-Busch. Batch 19 is a Coors product that tries to look "crafty." Overall, the Yankee Stadium menu is familiar and boring, but sometimes that goes over well with consumers.
An MLB stadium is never going to be the go-to hub for the country's best beers and, frankly, nobody's expecting that. But it's good for beer lovers to know — especially if they're road-tripping around to baseball stadiums — where they can expect a menu that's interesting and eclectic and where it's the same ol', same ol'.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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