Toronto’s Beer & Baseball Disgrace

Where beer is concerned, there are two ways to approach customer service from a retail perspective:

1) The rights to provide beer can be auctioned off to the highest bidder, which can mean anything from who will kick in the most free equipment, glassware, kegs, etc., to who will cut the biggest cheque;

2) An attempt can be made to provide the best, broadest and most creative selection possible, involving both beers that are preferred by great swaths of the general public and those enjoyed by a minority who desire a little more character to their beer.

Increasingly, Major League Baseball organizations across both leagues are opting for the latter approach, inviting local craft breweries to not only sell their beer at the park, but contribute to the community feel that’s key to the “home team” experience. For evidence, I direct you to this post by Lew Bryson, an excerpt of which follows:

I’ve been proud of the selection of local craft beer readily available at Citizens Bank Park for quite a while. (It’s not just me: check out #5 here.) But it looks like the O’s are one-upping us: Friday night home games will now have cask ale from Flying Dog in Camden Yards, beginning April 27.

Indeed, it’s not enough that you can buy fine craft beer at both ballyards, and have been able to do so for years! Now O’s fans will be able to enjoy cask ale with their Friday home games!

If that’s not bad enough, check out Stan’s post over here, punctuated by this pic:

With this ocean of plenty in mind, we turn our attention to Toronto’s concrete bunker and…this. Tall cans of overprices Stella and Bud, and the very occasional Sleeman sighting. And that…is…it!

The Blue Jays this year are an exciting team and I am looking very much forward to plenty of thrilling games played in the dome I can see from my bedroom window. And when I do see a game or five in person, I’m fairly confident I will enjoy them. But I will not be drinking vastly overpriced beer I do not enjoy.

It is a disgrace that Toronto baseball fans much put up with this, particularly since Steam Whistle Brewing lies within a Bautista line drive of the dome. Take to Facebook; take to Twitter; write a letter or an email; do whatever you can to let Jays ownership know that they are missing the boat on beer and customer service!

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24 Comments

Filed under drinking quality

24 responses to “Toronto’s Beer & Baseball Disgrace

  1. Garthicus

    I agree 100% Stephen. Like I mentioned on Twitter, I usually buy TWO season tickets, one ticket gets me in the door, then after a a few innings, I zip home (I live on John Street) switch on the TV to the game and have a couple of decent beers, then head back to the game with the other ticket. I really hate parting with hard earned cash to drink overpriced piss at the concession stands. Last season they opened the ‘premium’ food and drink section that sells roast beef sandwiches etc and their beer selection is Stella and co… really disappointing especially (as you said) with Steam Whistle being a spit away from the stadium. The other option is to go to the bar in the Rennaisance and enjoy a good beer that’s fairly priced (they had Chuck Norris all last season) and watch the game out the window..

  2. Amen, brotha! Where does it say that crappy beer is the nectar of the masses, or that it should cost eight bucks a can?

  3. Mike

    The idea of going to a large-scale sporting event and drinking good beers is something, I’m afraid, I just can’t understand. Would you also expect to enjoy gourmet food at such an event?
    I like to pay attention to my beer. Not to the exclusion of all else, but at least let it share my attention. At a sporting event, I don’t see how you could enjoy both simultaneously.
    The “captive customer” approach to sales seems to be generally American or Anglo-Saxon. Prices for captive customers where I live are a bit higher, but certainly not crazy. I’ve had a beer at a cafe at my local airport, for example, and paid perhaps five percent more than at a pub near my house.

    • stephenbeaumont

      Really, Mike? You even find something to disagree with on this post? Impressive!

      If you don’t understand enjoying a beer and a sporting event at the same time, you have obviously never been to a baseball game.

      • Mike

        Your last statement is partly correct. Does going to football games in Europe count? If it does, and, say, Duvel, were available, I still probably wouldn’t drink it. The local stadium here, I believe, serves Grolsch and Amstel. Some Grolsch beers are not bad and, if I went to a football game, I wouldn’t have a problem drinking one. Mostly, because as I wrote originally, a beer like that wouldn’t draw my attention away from the game.
        If I wanted to enjoy a good beer, I’d probably drink it at a pub or at home, with far fewer distractions.
        And there’s also another side to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsborough_disaster#Other_aggravating_factors

      • stephenbeaumont

        Well, no, it doesn’t count. Football is more or less non-stop for each half, whereas baseball is a slow-paced game wit breaks every half-inning and frequent pauses even in the middle. Plenty of time to “pay attention” to your beer.

        As for alcohol and its relationship to violence or disasters like Hillsborough, the issue is not whether or not beer is sold, but whether said beer is Budweiser or something with more flavour. ‘Nuff said.

  4. Mike

    OK, fair enough. Although, unfortunately, there are some football games that may well be as slow as baseball.

  5. Brian

    Keith’s is served at Rogers center everywhere, and no offense , Keith’s, Sleeman and Stella are all way better then Steamwhistle, wether it is right across the road or not

    • stephenbeaumont

      Definitely don’t agree with you there, Brian, but to each his own, I suppose. And at any rate, the issue is less which beer is better than it is providing a variety of different brands with different characters, plus connecting to the community — something the Jays organization says that they are intent on doing — via inviting the participation of local breweries.

  6. Surly Brewing has created a new IPA exclusive to Target Field and the Minnesota Twins. It would be great if one of the Toronto breweries would be able to do something like this.

    http://www.mnbeeractivists.com/newsfeed/surlybrewingjumpsontheminnesotatwinsbandwagonwithanewipa

  7. V-Dub is out of gas.

    No baseball game was ruined because I couldn’t find my favourite microbrew at the game. I go for the game, not the beer. The biggest problem is the price of the beers. I don’t like paying $10 for a $2 beer.

  8. Hector

    I did notice that they have a bit more selection this season – I saw Rolling Rock being sold in cans at the Rogers Centre last week (Microbrewery out of St Louis). Great beer (actually one of my favourites), but it would make sense to support local microbreweries in T.O.

    • stephenbeaumont

      Rolling Rock is actually owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev and for the US market, at least, has been brewed in New Jersey since the Latrobe, PA, operation was sold. (InBev actually sold the brewery and the brand separately, the latter going to Anheuser-Busch, but got the brand back when it bought A-B.) I hear the Canadian RR may be brewed domestically, but am unsure of that.

      • Hector

        I stand corrected (definitely not much of an expert), but love a good beer and had been told that it was a microbrewery. Either way, it does seem that additional variety is being provided at the Rogers Centre — long gone are the days of only being able to get Bud and Bud Light…

        Truth is, they’ll never win this one — too many choices for which breweries to support in my opinion.

  9. Meh

    Canada doesn’t believe in business competition hence why there are so many virtual monopolies.

  10. Senor Suds

    Rolling Rock is indeed brewed domestically (in cans & kegs) — by Labatt Breweries in London, Ontario. Decent, but definitely not a craft brew. I would love to get my hands on an Amsterdam or Mill St. brew @ a Jays game… maybe one day…

  11. Ian

    Stephen, I echo your sentiments completely. I’ve always thought that a Blue Jays/Steam Whistle marriage only made perfect sense. Though, when it comes to which beers are served at the Rogers Centre, I imagine there is a lot going on behind the scenes that we are not privy to.

    I imagine there is some exclusivity right with Interbrew/InterBev, which prevents other local craft brewers like Steam Whistle and Mill Street from selling at the dome.

    Personally, I long for the day when I can enjoy a tall cold Steam Whistle at the Blue Jays game.

  12. I’ve seen games, and enjoyed craft beer, throughout the US. The American parks have it figured out – get your big beer sponsorship, then tuck a “beers of the world” kiosk in a remote area and charge $12 for a beer. As it stands now, until the Jays provide an option, I will continue to meet at C’est What before a game, drink and eat there, and spend no more than the cost of my ticket at the game.

  13. When all you want is a quick beer there is nothing wrong with a bud ice! :) now if your eating a good dinner and want to have a good drink then you can’t go cheap!

    • stephenbeaumont

      A quick beer or a quick hit of alcohol? Because when I want a beer, quick or otherwise, I’d prefer it taste like beer. Bud Ice, as I have noted many times, is amont the blandest beers I have ever tasted.

  14. Over here in London, there will be no decent beer available to visitors, just swill from Heneiken’s portfolio masquerading a British beer. In fact, you won’t even be able to bring your own water into the arenas. Free drinking fountains were also recently removed from Heathrow airport. My local football team has signed a contract with Carlsberg, which also means less choice. The beer in the bar is usually a bonding part of the day. The world is nuts!

  15. Garthicus

    Rick – another great solution is Corks in Longos before the game, cheap and cheerful and right by the Rogers Centre (sorry folks, I’m a new immigrant and it was never the skydome to me ;-) )

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