Reflections on Beer at the Ballpark

I went to see the series opener at Toronto’s Skydome – it’ll be a cold day in hell before I call it the Rogers Centre – on Friday night, courtesy of my loving wife. The seats were good, the game exciting and the usually staid Toronto crowd a little more into it that usual. Plus, Bautista came within a single of hitting for the cycle.

Then there was the beer.

I had heard in advance that there were apparently two stands selling Steam Whistle Pilsner, brewed within spitting distance of the dome, somewhere on the 100 level, where our seats were located. There were not, or at least not so far as I could find in a complete circuit of the concessions. (Anyone from Steam Whistle, if I missed where your beer is sold, please let us all know before the next home series.)

Finally, in desperation and significant thirst, and unwilling to buy a bottle of freakin’ filtered Dasani water for almost five bucks, I dropped over twice that amount on a can of Stella Artois, what I thought was a disappointing but still passable alternative. I paid for my beer and went to grab a plastic cup to pour it into, but was stopped by the beer server, who told me that the cups are counted and that she could get into trouble if there was one missing.

So, $10.25 for a can of Stella, more than 4 times retail price, and I am denied even a plastic cup from which to drink! Great customer service there, Dome.

Now, onto the beer, which was terrible! Like Pete Brown, I have memories of Stella which now seem terribly divorced from reality. I used to defend it as a decent thirst-quencher, if you drank one and only one glass. (The follow up was always a disappointment.) For whatever other faults it might boast, it had a generally dry character and sufficient hop appeal to counteract that sickly, cloying cereally character that I find pervades the majority of globally marketed beers.

No longer.

The can I had was a complete mess in terms of its flavour profile, and that I could tell even by drinking directly from from said can. (God knows what it would have tasted like in the cup. Maybe that’s why the Dome refused me one.) The hop flavours, where present, were severely disjointed and the malt profile suggested an extended lagering time of, oh, ten or twelve hours. Morbid curiosity propelled me to continue drinking and, as the beer warmed, the faults grew progressively and predictably worse. By two-thirds gone – and I was hardly nursing it – it was pretty revolting.

So, my reflections on beer at the Skydome are as follows: expensive, poorly served, lousy selection, and awful tasting.

10 Comments

Filed under beer glassware, beer industry, beer reviews, Belgium

10 responses to “Reflections on Beer at the Ballpark

  1. I almost feel compelled to apologize for having both great pitching (thanks, btw, for Roy Halladay) and great beer served up at Citizens Bank Park (another terrible name) on an almost-daily basis. But, I’m greedy and you guys had this guy named Joe Carter…..

  2. stephenbeaumont

    And sad beer selection notwithstanding, Bryan, we now have this guy named Jose Bautista. Might not mean a World Series in Toronto this year or next, but the baseball is mighty entertaining.

  3. Dan Gipson

    Stephen,
    We in Tampa Bay are blessed with an eyesore of a dome, Tropicana Field (IMO the dome should be painted orange-how awesome that would be!). However, they are now serving Cigar City Brewing beer in the lower levels. Truly a great way to watch some baseball and drink great beer.

  4. Sadly, Steam Whistle Pilsner is not available yet at the Skydome. We were invited, along with several other Brewers, to the table to ‘negotiate’ to be on the beer menu this ball season, but it didn’t pan out. We’ll keep trying – maybe next year! Fortunately, being right across the street from the ball park, we welcome hundreds of fans to our hospitality bar before games. We’re open until 6pm. Your first sample is complimentary and single bottles of Steam Whistle Pilsner can be had for $4 each.

    You might have thought we were available at the Dome because we are available at the Club level at the Air Canada Centre, so you can enjoy our Pilsner at hockey and basketball games. And, our beer is also stocked at some of the concessions at BMO field, but it isn’t always prominently displayed so just ask for it by name.

    It’s great to see some of the sports venues in Toronto acknowledging that their fans are interested in a fresh, local alternative to the big brews.

    • stephenbeaumont

      Thanks for the clarification, Sybil. Would love to know what was involved in the “negotiations,” but I suspect propriety will keep you from telling us about it.

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  6. dan

    Hello. Long time reader first time sycophant.

    I’m a Brit, moved to Victoria six years ago. Sports game drinking has intrigued me regularly. I went to watch the Salmon Kings attempt to play hockey and experienced my first beer in a plastic cup with a LID! Apparently this is normal. I was also taken aside for attempting to buy three Sea Dog amber ales (yucky) for our party. You can only buy two at a time. I presume this is to prevent you starting a rival beer selling business ad lib.

    Then I was taken by friends to a Canucks game. $9 a can of heineken unless I filled out a form with my name, address, birthdate and inside-leg measurement for some ropey looking Molsons Canadian “cheerleaders” in return for a can of crap at $5 instead of $8. It’s a deep, deep gouge.

    Unless you’ve ever bought a pie at the Emirates football stadium in London. In which case you will consider Canadian stadium hospitality to be divine.

    Like the blog lots. Pete Brown recommended it to me. Cheers.
    (I co-write the vancouver island beer news resource http://www.beerontherock.com and solo write smallbeerblog.blogspot.com )

    • stephenbeaumont

      Thanks for emerging from the shadows, Dan. I’ve not had the pleasure of experiencing Emirates, but looking at the way the Gunners collapsed this year, I can only assume it would take a lot of beer and pies to weather a match.

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