New York City. Home of Brooklyn Brewery, Good Beer and McSorley’s Old Ale House. So why, as a craft beer enthusiast, did I drink a near year-old Kolsch (not on purpose) and a Guinness when I was sitting in essentially a king’s throne at a Yankees game?
(Nearly) Year-Old Kolschs
Let’s rewind to 4:00am Monday morning. That’s when I started my three-day adventure also known as a mandatory work trip. Car to bus. Bus to walk to office. Taxi to train station (BTW, Uber is incredible). Union Station to Penn Station. Taxi to apartment I was to stay in. Phew. All while carrying an entire video department literally on my back with my two coworkers.
By 5:00pm we were finished with our shoot for the day and decided to head out for a quick drink and appetizer. The doorman recommended P.J. Clarke’s. The beer menu was okay. A mix of some domestics, Belgians and a couple crafts. There were only two New York beers, both by Captain Lawrence Brewing Company.
I know Captain Lawrence is pretty well liked (91% on BeerAdvocate). I’ve had them a couple times (maybe 3?) but never had anything I truly enjoyed, even their Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA. Since I’ve only ever drank them in Virginia and due to a lack of competition I decided to try out their Kolsch. Something light and crisp with some hop bitterness sounded pleasant on a humid August late afternoon.
I poured the bottle into my 10oz mug, which I had to request, and noticed it looked a little flat. There was hardly any carbonation whatsoever. On first taste it was good in a “OMG I needed this” kind of way. A few gulps later though my initial satisfaction dissipated and I began to resent the beer. I decided to check out the bottle and spotted the bottling date… 09102013. That’s nearly 11 months ago.
In order to not look like a giant beer snob again in front of one of my coworkers, I decided to suck it up, finish the beer and passive-aggressively tweet both P.J. Clarke’s and Captain Lawrence. I’m still waiting for a response.
A King’s Seat at a Baseball Game
The next day our coworker got tickets to the Yankees game from someone he knows. We were expecting decent seats. Never in my dreams would I have thought we’d get the seats and royal treatment we did.
Off the subway and into the stadium we went all excited to eat some cheesesteaks some locals were raving about. Our section number was 017B. That’s pretty weird considering most stadiums have sections that start with 100, 200, 300 or 400. We asked an usher where to go and he smiled, told us we needed to get our wristbands and pointed to the end of the walkway where there was a set of doors.
We entered and got our wristbands and were instructed to head down the steps to find out seats. As we walk downstairs we enter into a gorgeous restaurant but no stadium seats. Okay, we ask someone else where to go and they tell us to go downstairs (BUT WE JUST WENT DOWNSTAIRS!). They guided us to another set of stairs and down we go again into an ever more gorgeous restaurant. The hostess asks us if we’d like a table and we say no, we just want our seats. She tells us to go to the bar and hang a right. As we walk through the restaurant we notice the sushi bar, the raw bar filled to the brim with king crab legs and lobster tails, carving station and several other high-end buffet stations.
On the walk to our seats one of my coworkers and I discussed that we might have to do this buffet even if we’re not able to afford it. We finally make it outside and are greeted by a woman who takes us to our seats…. 7th row between home and the first base dugout right in front of the batter’s warm-up circle. O. M. G. The woman asks us if we know what we get with our seats and we tell her no. She hands us a menu and tells us everything is included except alcohol. Cheesesteaks, sushi platters, sandwiches, burgers, peanuts, anything. Then she says, “Oh, and you know the restaurant is included too, right?”
Then we feasted.
However, with a female in our company, I tried to refrain from gorging to the point of getting lobster sweats in the middle of the 5th inning. The food was phenomenal for a buffet. It was hands down better than any Las Vegas buffet I’ve had. Most dishes were an 8/10 or 9/10. I have had better food before, but never in a buffet setting. There was one drawback though…there was no craft beer to pair any of the delicious food with!
The bar had a couple Goose Islands, Magic Hat #9 and Yuengling. Sigh. I ended up with some of New York’s finest still water for the meal so I could focus my sights on eating more lobster. Around the 4th inning my stomach opened up enough for me to down a $10 Guinness.
Results: Game was solid. We stayed for 11 out of the 12 innings. Service was excellent. Perks were even better. I got to see Jeter play in New York. Got to see Ichiro, Miguel Cabrera and David Price play. Only disappointed by my lack of beer options. I wouldn’t trade that experience for much though. Outside of going on the field and in the dugout, that’s about as good as a baseball experience can get. FWIW, Ticketmaster sells 9th row seats (remember, we were in the 7th) for about $930 a seat. Nuts.
So I have a question for you. When was the last time you were let down by the craft beer selection in a place where you shouldn’t have been?
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