A Taste of Petco Park: My Pint Runneth Over
This last week I had the privilege of touring Petco Park and getting a taste of all the new food offerings at the stadium during an event called “A Taste of Petco Park.” The event including a tour around the stadium to all of the new amenities and food stands that had sprung up in the offseason, and I can tell you that as a Padres fan and proud San Diegan: I was blown away. I was so blown away in fact, that I’ve decided to break up this article into two pairings so that I can discuss the food of the park on one side and the libations and spirits on the other. So without any further ado, here is part one of “A taste of Petco Park.”
San Diego County is home of one of the largest communities of craft breweries, with 61 operations (and counting) in our municipality alone. Indeed, some consider the craft beer scene in San Diego to be a booming Mecca that has little sign of slowing down. So naturally, with the sand-colored pallet and palm tree shrouded stadium as an emulation and homage to America’s Finest City, the craft beer scene has slowly permeated its way through the gates and onto the concourse of Petco Park.
The night began with seating alongside the first base line in a new seating area referred to as the “First Base Box.” Fans who sit in this section are treated to “all you can eat” food and beverage service including some baseball stadium staples including Budweiser, Modelo, Miller, and now – you guessed it – craft beer. I looked over the in-game menu and decided upon a Longfin Lager by Ballast Point Brewing Co. Ballast Point has been a partner of the Padres organization for a few years now – bolstering a fully-fledged beer garden in the Left Field grandstands – so it made sense to be able to enjoy some Ballast Point from the comfort of the first base line.
After enjoying a nice cold Ballast Point lager (in a can!) we were led away from the comfort of the game and out into the hustle and bustle of the renewed field level concourse. Along the way we passed a brand new Karl Strauss Brewing Co. beer stand that had opened up at the park. The stand was fashioned to look like a classic San Diego Red Trolley – of which Karl Strauss serves a signature beer with the same name – and fans could now get some of their favorite San Diego craft beer just about anywhere in the ballpark.
On the concourse we also stopped at a stand that has been behind home plate for a few season now – a concession stand aptly named “Craft Beers of San Diego.” This was a sight for sore eyes if you were tired of the Coors billboards and other water pushers that you see around town. No, this was a collection of over 35 different kinds of craft beers from different breweries around San Diego including Ballast Point, Karl Strauss, AleSmith Brewing, Coronado Brewing, Green Flash Brewing, Manzanita Brewing Co. and Mission Brewery. In addition to the various “core beers” that the concession stand had to offer from these different breweries, a large chalk board in front of the stand bolstered various special beers that they had on hand and the return of Firkin’ Fridays – a weekly event where different, special variants of beer will be sold on tap at the park.
Next door to this foray of beers from the craft concession stand was the Seaside Market, where fans could pick their own 22-ounce bombers of craft beer or even wine and enjoy them as they walked about the park during the game. Different styles of California wines from local wineries and some up north could be sampled and enjoyed at a fan’s discretion. And fear not, if you’re not so big into the craft beer or wine scene, there’s a machine that squeezes oranges into fresh orange juice for you – no sugar or other preservatives added and pulp free as well! There’s also water if you like that sort of thing*, but back to the journey of Petco Park’s booming microbrewery scene.
(* – Author’s Note: Please drink water. Water is good for you, and also delicious. Also free in most places! You will die without water: man cannot live by beer alone!)
Just upstairs was a brand new pub-style getaway called The Draft by Ballast Point, which takes up the space of the old PCL Club. Fans can head upstairs and enjoy not only beer, but fine craft spirits and cocktails by Ballast Point including Mai Tais, Margaritas, and even a special Ballast Point Whiskey and Bourbon. Fans looking to grab a drink during the game have plenty of options and fear not: the game is on countless big-screen TVs strewn about the bar, so you won’t miss a minute of the action while seeking to quench your thirst.
Throughout this tour I felt as something was missing from all of this extravagant display of craft beers, and as we reached the top tier of the park my concerns were put to rest as we approached the brand new Stone Brewing bar. Stone, a well-known brand around town, had finally opened its own stand-alone beer operation at the park, and all of the core beers were there (Levitation, Arrogant, Stone Pale and Stone IPA), along with some other variants including the Vanilla Bean Smoked Porter. Truly, this was a craft-beer lover’s dream.
Now, I’m well aware that not everyone is a craft beer fan, but the Padres organization hit a homerun in giving San Diegans what they clamor for: supporting local business and celebrating local flavor. The overwhelming manifestation and support of the craft beer scene seems almost second nature at the park, and anyone who has been to the park this season will surely notice the increased presence. And don’t worry, if you don’t like craft beer my next article will focus on the delicious food stuffs that are now available at the park.
But for now, fear not Padres fans: never again will you have to settle for fizzy yellow pseudo water at the park – craft beer is back in a big way down at Petco Park.