“I’ll take a Bud Light,” the man said as he approached the beer kiosk.
“Sorry, sir, we only have Green Line and 312,” said the vendor, who was wearing Goose Island gear and standing beneath a Goose Island awning and between two Goose Island taps.
The perplexed look on the man’s face was indicative of what was no doubt a heated inner struggle.
Whaddya mean you don’t have Bud Light? Do I stay here and buy this craft stuff or do I get back in another line in order to savor the crisp, refreshing nectar that was brewed the hard way and aged on beechwood?
Ol’ dude shuffled off in sort of a stupor, looking back at the kiosk a couple times as he did. I can almost understand his confusion, given the nature of Wrigley Field’s beer selection. As necessitated by a ten-year, $140 million Anheuser-Busch InBev sponsorship, the ballpark is replete with the red and blue taps of America’s beer. Sure, you can still find Old Style in a few spots. And there’s Goose Island, a Chicago original that’s now an AB InBev subsidiary.
Until recently, the ubiquitous “craft” brewer’s two flagship offerings were really the only widely available beers at Wrigley that weren’t macro lagers. There are a few other one-offs here and there (notably in the bleachers), but I’m talking about stuff you can find with relative ease out in the concourse. I mean, c’mon, even Yankee Stadium has Goose IPA on tap.
Listen, I totally understand the idea of capitalism and commercialism and all the other isms that allow the Cubs to cash fat checks. I have said from the start of the Ricketts family’s purchase of the team that I’d be fine with pretty much anything, up to and including painting the wrought iron pink, if it meant bringing a title to the North Side. Well guess what? The Commissioner’s Trophy will now be displayed in the brand-new plaza along Clark Street.
Now that that’s out of the way, I think it’s time the Cubs turn their attention southward for a little advice on how to sling suds. See, the think about rampant success is that you forget what it’s like to have to scratch and claw just to fill the lower bowl of your ballpark. You don’t have ticket packages that average less than $10 a seat. You get too drunk on the gate to care that your fans might want to get drunk on really good beer.
That latter fact isn’t a problem for the White Sox, who plan to offer upwards of 75 different craft beer offerings this season. That’s enough for every of-age fan seated in the upper deck to have a different beer, maybe two, without exhausting the options.
75 beers from 38 breweries collected here pic.twitter.com/5idzQRRE6h
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) March 29, 2017
Not that I’ll be in a hurry to head to the ball park just to pay a very high guaranteed rate for beer I could otherwise purchase at any number of watering holes or liquor stores. But can you imagine the additional revenue the Cubs could bring in from just a fraction of the selection the Pale Hose are boasting?
Let’s just do some conservative math and say Wrigley vendors would push 2,000 of these added beers each gameday and that the profit margin is 50 cents greater on those than on other offerings. That’s $1,000 more each game for 81 games, which is…huh, I guess it’s only 80 grand. Ugh, sorta wilts in the face of $14 million annually from the company whose name is on the Cardinals’ stadium.
I guess Cubs fans in search of a more varied beverage menu will just have to make due with 1060 Wit, a new Goose Island beer that will debut at the home opener. Brewed specifically for Wrigley Field and GI’s local taprooms, the Belgian-inspired brew is “lightly fruity and a touch spicy with low bitterness that is a natural fit for the ballpark and refreshing on hot Chicago days.”
Not a bad start, though I wish they’d beef up the IPA selection a bit more, preferably with a few session offerings. Given the recent trend toward palate-wrecking hop-bombs, American IPA’s have gotten a bad rap in some circles for being too heavy and boozy. I mean, you don’t want to be tipping back a malty cup of 8 percent ABV on a July afternoon, either chugging it or risking the summer sun transforming it into bitter bathwater.
But a citrusy, floral head with a light body and toned-down alcohol content would go down well whether you’re in the bleachers or behind the dugout. Is that too much to ask? Then again, I’m just as happy to dial up an Old Style or four as I kick back and drink in the surroundings.
Hey, beer man!