It's hard for a local beer lover not to get excited when you see a story with the headline Target Field opening day roster includes 34 beers. Thirty-four beers to choose from to enjoy at the beautiful new outdoor ballpark? Can't get much better than that, can it?
However, as is so often the case, the devil is in the details:
Budweiser, an Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. brand, has sponsored the Twins for more than two decades, and it's no surprise that the stadium carries Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Select, Bud Light Lime and Bud Light Wheat.
I've yet to try Bud Light Wheat, but based on past experience with the brand I'm pretty confident in saying that we're off to an 0-4 start.
Other Anheuser-Busch-owned brews will be available, such as Michelob Golden Draft, Michelob Golden Draft Light, Michelob Ultra, Michelob AmberBock, Rolling Rock, Shock Top and O'Doul's Amber.
Shock Top is decent. So where does that get us, one for eleven?
There's plenty of room for other brands in the stands, and Miller and Coors products aren't verboten. Fans can purchase Miller Lite, Coors Light, Miller Genuine Draft and MGD 64.
Four more whiffs. Out of fifteen beer varieties listed so far, ONE is drinkable.
Local brews are also available: Finnegans, Schells Seasonal, Summit EPA, Summit Seasonal, Grainbelt Premium and Grainbelt Light. There's also Leinenkugel's Original, Honey Weiss and Summer Shandy.
Sigh. Local brews? From Wisconsin? Obviously, this grouping is an improvement to the previous beers mentioned. Finnegans, Schells Seasonal, Summit EPA, and Summit Seasonal are solid selections, although that could vary depending on what the seasonals are. I still like to quaff an occasional Grain Belt Premium, but I won't try to pretend that it's a good beer. Leinie's Original and Honey Weiss do nothing for me. I am partial to the Summer Shandy, although I'd prefer the Sunset Wheat for a summer offering.
The bigger issue though is what's missing. I know that Surly was considering tapping into Target Field, but they were worried about the price they would have to charge. Looking at what's currently available, I'd be more than happy to pay more for a better beer. Not that the current offerings will exactly be cheap:
Domestic beers are priced at $6 for 12 oz. glasses, $7 for 20 oz. taps and 16 oz. bottles and $8 for aluminum bottles. Premium drinkers will pay an extra 50 cents. Domestic 24 oz. cans are priced at $9.
In addition to Surly, how about Flat Earth, Lift Bridge, and Fulton's? The Twins attract a lot of outstate fans, so why not also offer selections from Lake Superior, Brau Brothers, or Mantorville? Support the local team and enjoy local beer.
Rounding out the beer list is Landshark, Guinness, Heineken, Heineken Light, Stella, Corona, Dos Equis, Samuel Adams and Amstel Light.
While I'm always happy to have Guinness as an option, it just doesn't seem the right fit for a ball game. Stella and Dos Equis are decent imports and the classic Samuel Adams Boston Lager is another solid brew. Again, considering the venue maybe Sam Adams Summer Ale would be a better choice.
So yes, Target Field does indeed offer thirty-four beers for thirsty fans. Unfortunately, according to my calculations, only about ten are actually feasible options for the more discriminating beer drinker. And of those ten, the majority are solid utility beers, not packing the kind of power to knock it out of the park taste-wise. More is clearly not always better.