Citi Field Against Wrigley Field, in Beer

Eno Sarris, October 22, 2015

What would it look like if the Mets' beers went up against the Cubs' beers? Would it be a sweep, like it was on the field in the National League Championship Series that just concluded last night? Or would it be a hard-fought seven-game series? 

Michael Donato rounded up the beers of each ballpark in baseball last week, but he only did the most popular beer at each park. So if you looked there, you might not have noticed much of a difference. Goose Island IPA vs Pabst Blue Ribbon doesn't sound like much of a battle worth waging, anyway. 

The beer selection at New York's Citi Field is way better than Wrigley's if you go by subjective reviews. Donato gave Citi a B-, or 82/100, when he rated Citi's selection, price, and availability in a ballpark beer review. And though we haven't reviewed Chicago's Wrigley Field yet, the early word is that the beer is no good, and at least one website gave them a C for concessions

So you might expect a blowout when it comes to putting these two parks up against each other by beer. Doesn't turn out that way. Turns out, when you go to the ballpark in these two situations, you generally can't expect better than average beer.  

First, Wrigley, which turned out to be better than I expected. Here are the top ten beers that were checked into on Untappd this year at Wrigley ranked by number of checkins. 

Beer Brewery BAR Style+
Heileman's Old Style Pabst Brewing Company 1.37 98
Green Line Pale Ale Goose Island Beer Co. 1.22 100
312 Urban Wheat Ale Goose Island Beer Co. 2.32 102
Bud Light Anheuser-Busch (ABInBev) 0.02 92
India Pale Ale (IPA) Goose Island Beer Co. 2.33 101
Budweiser Anheuser-Busch (ABInBev) 0.52 94
312 Urban Pale Ale Goose Island Beer Co. 2.32 102
Sofie Goose Island Beer Co. 3.76 104
Shock Top Belgian White Anheuser-Busch (ABInBev) -0.21 96
Stella Artois Stella Artois (ABInBev) 6.74 114

You can see immediately why the rap is so bad for Wrigley -- the top beers are all Big Beer, no True Craft to be seen. Here's why you might notice that this won't be a blowout -- the beers Big Beer chose to put into Wrigley are among the better-rated offerings they own. Goose Island is local, they make decent beers, and they help float the overall averages. 

The average beer consumed most often in Wrigley is... average. It has a 2.0 Beers Above Replacement score, which is average, and it's 0.3% better than the style average (100.3 Style+). 

Let's check Citi. 

Beer Brewery BAR Style+
India Pale Ale (IPA) Goose Island Beer Co. 2.33 101
Lager Queens Brewery 0.02 96
Bud Light Anheuser-Busch (ABInBev) 0.02 92
Summer Ale Brooklyn Brewery 2.45 103
Longboard Island Lager Kona Brewing Company 6.03 114
Common Sense Ale Upstate Brewing Company -0.98 94
Bronx Pale Ale The Bronx Brewery 1.52 101
Brooklyn Lager Brooklyn Brewery 4.75 106
Long Hammer IPA Redhook Ale Brewery -0.90 95
2xIPA Southern Tier Brewing Company 1.83 99

You'll notice some smaller breweries were invited into the park, and that's what makes most craft brewing fans excited about Citi versus Wrigley or Yankee Stadium. But not all of these smaller beers are good. Common Sense is rated really poorly by the untappd users that drink it. So is Long Hammer, long the bane of bad beer bars of the New York metropolitan area. 

Still, if you add it all up and average them, you get... 1.71 BAR and a 100.1 Style+. Seems like you get an average beer if you go to the ballpark and give any effort at all. 

One addendum... You'll see some better beers higher up in the rankings. If you actually weight each score by the number of checkins in each location, Citi nudges it's way forward, probably thanks to Kona. The weighted average is 1.68 BAR for Citi and 1.53 for Wrigley. 

Then again, that's not much of a difference. It's like making a big deal about having a Harpoon White IPA over an August Schell Pilsner. When it comes to ballparks, at least this time, it's way closer than it was on the field this past couple of weeks. It's really a tie.

And the beer drinker is the loser.