Target Field Ballpark Beer Review

Nicholas Campion, July 14, 2014

Opened in 2010, beautiful Target Field has given baseball fans across the Upper Midwest a reason to look forward to going out to the ballpark again. The sightlines and proximity to the outdoor field of play are second to none, and the ever-expanding list of ballpark fare and brews are enough to keep even the most pessimistic Twins fans interested. 

As was the case with recent informative ballpark reviews here and here, the definition of what is and what isn’t craft beer in the ballpark has been dissected to the point where anything I add would qualify as white noise. So in the interest of time, I’m going to skip Leinenkugel’s (Original/Summer Shandy), Goose Island (312/Honkers), and Sam Adams (Lager/Rebel IPA) and skip straight to my state’s criminally underrated craft offerings and where you can find them. NOTE: If you are interested in the aforementioned pseudo-craft offerings, don’t fret as stand-alone carts of those brews permeate every level of the park. 

Depending on what type of ticket you have will influence which areas in the park you can access, but outside of the three bars located in the Legends Club (Sec D, K, & M), and two bars at each end of the Dugout Boxes (Sec 1 & 17), the following point of sale locations can be reached by any ticket level. 

Between Gates 34 & 29 is the first of two Twins Pubs (Sec 101), but it’s the only one you’ll want to remember. Why? Because this season they are pouring Surly OverRated, their delightful West Coast IPA that isn’t quite as hoppy as Furious (poured last year), but equally satisfying. You’ll also find 16 oz cans of their Bender (brown ale) and Hell (kellerbier). After you’ve had a few of those, don’t forget to grab a Fulton Sweet Child of Vine, a quintessential Midwest-style IPA, which is also on tap. NOTE: 2nd Twins Pub is found at Sec 229 but does not have any of the brews mentioned above, weird right?

Over by the left field foul pole is the Townball Tavern (Sec V). Stop in and enjoy a Minnesota regional specialty, the Juicy Lucy. And you know what goes great to wash down a cheese-stuffed burger? Any of the four Summit beers on tap of course. You’ll find EPA, Saga, Pilsner, and their current seasonal offering, Summer Ale at the ready. 

If you find yourself in the Legends Club, you’ll be happy to know that not only is there less riff-raff from the likes of yours truly around, but also another Surly OverRated tap next to Sec K. The club also employs two large atrium bars named after Rod Carew & Kirby Puckett (Sec D & M) where you’ll also find more Summit, as well as Schell’s Grain Belt Premium and Nordeast. 

The Minnesota Brews (Sec 125, 323) stand offers patrons cans and bottles of Summit, Grain Belt, and Indeed Day Tripper and Shenanigans. Day Tripper may be the most dank pale ale you’ve never had and gets high marks from this guy. The rest of the park has a variety of local, albeit slightly uninspired options such as Lift Bridge (they get dinged here for only having their Farm Girl saison available), and Third Street (their brown & pale ales are the definition of average). These two can also be found at the Minnesota Brews stand. NOTE: Hrbek’s (Sec 114) has Summit EPA/Grain Belt Premium on tap.

Target Field has expanded their local craft beer options every year since its opening, but when you compare to what’s happening in San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, there’s really no excuse why the Twins can’t be a 70-80 grade beer ballpark, but…

It’s no secret the Twins have not exactly said “No thanks” to ABInBev’s money since the ballpark’s opening, which is not unlike what’s happening in Denver. The “Budweiser Party Deck” sign in left field is hard to miss, especially at night when it’s glowing bright red. When Team President Dave St. Peter was asked if fans could expect to see a larger craft presence in the stadium at a fan event this past January, St. Peter indicated they were more than happy with their current relation$hip with Budwei$er. 

Currently, Target Field has the 4th most expensive beer ($7.50) on average trailing only Miami, Philadelphia, and Boston. When you’re $0.50 higher than what AT&T Park is serving, you better believe that’s a paddlin’. But hey, partnerships have its privileges so if waiting in two lines for macro beer is your jam, you can always try out the newly unveiled “self-serve beer stations” on the main concourse level. 

Despite sharing a partnership with a macro-brewing giant, Target Field and the Twins deserve credit as the craft beer options continue to evolve and expand, however slow as they are. When calculating the final score, I took into account the other ballparks I’ve been to, and the true roster variety of the breweries here in town to give what I think is a fair evaluation. If Surly had Furious here, that beer alone could push it near 90, but that was last year and this is now. Like the Twins in the past four years, we’ll always have the dream and hope that next year is the year.

Target Field: 84/100

Top Beers (by BAR): Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy (8.17), Oskar Blues Pale Ale (6.46), Schell’s Grain Belt Premium (6.36), Indeed Day Tripper (5.58), Surly OverRated (5.10), Summit Extra Pale Ale (4.37), Summit Saga IPA (3.92), Schell’s Nordeast (3.60), Surly Bender (3.41), Surly Hell (3.0), Fulton Sweet Child of Vine (2.82)

Excellent stands: 5 (+ the “2 Gingers Pub” for locally made Irish Whiskey – Sec 318; and the Butcher & the Boar stand which has cans of Oskar Blues – Sec 136)

Price: $8 - $12

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