Rising up behind the bronzed silhouette of Mike Schmidt, in the forgotten frat-print of McFadden’s, stands a 19-foot high Liberty Bell. The 5,000-pound piece of Phillies nostalgia stood guard at old Veterans Stadium and gonged every time Schmidt launched one into the infamous 700 Level.
The refurbished bell will welcome Phillies fans to a sprawling food and drink oasis inside Citizens Bank Park. Pass and Stow is the ballpark’s newest game-day hangout, a mash-up of your favorite Passyunk corner pub and your nosy neighbor’s backyard.
Among the many highlights are Foundry Pizza, a brick-oven pizzeria; scattered picnic tables and high-definition TVs; and, off to the left, directly in front of the third-base gate, is Goose Island at the Park.
The latter is an innovative partnership between the Phillies, Aramark and Chicago-based Goose Island. Tim Caron, head brewer at the Goose Island Brewhouse in Fishtown, created a special collaboration beer for the stadium called Bullpen Session, a low ABV (4.8 percent) IPA brewed with malted and flaked oats, along with El Dorado and Azacca hops.
“It’s more like a New England session style IPA,” Caron said. “There’s a real focus on tropical fruit character in this beer, notes of pineapple, tangerine and mango.”
“Remember when Blue Moon launched out in Denver? It was only served at Coors Field and took off from there,” says Kevin Tedesco, District Manager for Aramark at Citizens Bank Park. “That’s what we are hoping for. The beer is delicious.”
Bullpen Session will be sold on draft only at Goose Island at the Park and at the Goose Island Brewhouse, which opened in Fishtown in 2018. Caron confirmed that the brewpub is producing the beer in 30-barrel batches — equal to about 60 kegs, or 390 cases — and intend to make more if called upon. The Phillies have already committed to 20 kegs.
“This isn’t a one-off beer,” Caron said. “We wanted to illustrate that we are in Philly, and we are part of the sports teams and the culture and the mentality. It’s not just beers that are coming from Chicago, it’s beer that is coming from a few miles away in Fishtown.”
There are also plans to possibly sell Bullpen Session at some of the Phillies minor-league stadiums, such as Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lakewood. Caron admitted the brewery team had toyed with the idea of naming a beer after All-Star Bryce Harper, but the timing of the deal wouldn’t allow it since Goose Island had to submit their paperwork to the government first. (Note: All beer names and labels must be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau).
“Maybe next year we’ll make a beer called Stupid Money,” Caron said.
In addition to Bullpen Session, Goose Island at the Park will also serve three other beers: Next Coast IPA, Summertime Kolsch and another one yet to be announced. Those three will be brewed at Goose Island’s Chicago headquarters. For all those beer nerds looking for Goose Island’s famed Bourbon County brand, don’t hold your breath. The extremely high ABV on that award-winning stout seemed too dangerous for Phillies fans.
“We don’t want to over-serve anyone with a 14 percent stout at the stadium,” Caron said. “We always have it on at the brewpub in Fishtown, though.”
Dilly, Dilly Versus Philly, Philly
Not interested in sampling the Phillies’ collaboration beer with Goose Island? Look, we get it. And we understand the hesitation. Once the Chicago-based brewery joined big beer’s evil empire, after taking Anheuser-Busch InBev’s money in 2011, they were off limits to many craft beer aficionados.
While Goose Island at the Park only pours Goose Island beers, there are a myriad of other sudsy options at the ballpark. From Pennsylvania to Colorado, the hop showers are raining down. And that’s not by coincidence, either. Citizens Bank Park is routinely ranked among the top ballparks in the country to grab a craft brew.
“The days of coming to the ballpark and grabbing a couple varieties of beer and a hot dog and a pretzel are long over,” Tedesco says. “We have a huge variety of beer and food here. One thing we are very proud of is our beer lineup, and not just the big name brands that people can get all over the country.”
The Phillies started catering to local breweries back at Veterans Stadium when they brought in growing regional brands like Flying Fish, Yuengling and Victory.
This year, Major League Baseball launched an updated version of their popular Ballpark app. It’s a must-have for beer lovers attending games. Download the app, select the Phillies as your favorite team and look for the Foodie Central option.
Under Foodie Central, there is a Beer Finder button that allows you to search the entire stadium’s inventory, including which sections are serving it. For example, if you are sitting in Section 103 and looking for Founders Solid Gold — a top seller last year, according to Tedesco — you’ll find out the closest vendors are in Sections 143 and 323.
So, with Opening Day tomorrow, we decided to do the dirty work. We’re ranking the stadium’s beer list.
Leinenkugel Summer Shandy: Jay-Z told us that lemonade is a popular drink and it still is, but is this really something we want our beer to taste like? Leave that faded memory on your grandfather’s porch swing and opt for a New Belgium Citradelic, a tangerine-flavored IPA that doesn’t taste like a twice-chewed lemon War Head. If you want something local: Conshohocken’s Blood Money IPA will do the trick.
Cloud Walker: No, this isn’t a special Game of Thrones-themed beer honoring Bryce Harper — although the Phillies will honor the HBO show on May 13 with a Seranthony Dominguez bobblehead doll. This “hazy juicy” IPA from Downingtown’s own Victory Brewing is pillowy soft, touched with a small dose of lactose, and pours cloudy orange. Think of it as Gritty in a 16-ounce can.
Yuengling Golden Pilsner: I know, I know. Why are you picking the Golden Pilsner over Traditional Lager? Simply put, it tastes better. The Pottsville brewery recently tabbed ace Aaron Nola to be their spokesman and the can’s yellow artwork matches his old LSU uniform.
Troegs Perpetual: Arguably the most consistent and reliably great-tasting brew in the state of Pennsylvania, Perpetual IPA gets its signature flavor after whole hop flowers swirl in a sealed chamber, pairing the intense aromas together like Turner & Hooch. Perpetual is the gateway IPA for people who say they don’t like IPAs.
Bullpen Session: It would be easy to dismiss this beer as a gimmicky collaboration from Chicago-based Goose Island — it’s not, plus it’s brewed in Fishtown. This fruit-forward, New England-style session IPA was brewed with malted and flaked oats, then hopped with Azacca and El Dorado for a taste of the tropics. It drinks easy, like Tom Brady’s tears, so be sure to shower Red Sox fans with it when they are in town in September.
Budweiser: You can save that swill Bud Light for the “Dilly, Dilly” king, but we’re proudly putting the original American pale lager on our list. Budweiser has plenty of Chase Utley-like qualities: smooth, crisp, with a pinch of crackerjack. Also, the brewery created limited-edition bottles honoring Jackie Robinson, with 42 cents from each one sold being donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Philly Pale Ale: Perhaps the most well-known beer from Yards, aka “Philadelphia’s Brewery,” Philly Pale shares a long history with Philly sports. After the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, the brewery handed out complimentary PPA (no, not that PPA) bottles along the parade route. Like rats at the Vet, you can find it at virtually every concourse, including in brand new 19.2-ounce bright yellow pounder cans.
Salt & Sea: Billed as a session sour, this is not your dad’s beer — and not something that Whitey and Harry would have quaffed in the booth. Flying Fish claims it was “inspired by evenings on the boardwalk” and “evokes hints of salt water taffy.” Since it’s brewed with salt and lime, it also doubles as a Gatorade alternative. Stay hydrated, Phillies fans!
Founders Solid Gold: Hate Budweiser? Tired of Yuengling? Well, this is your liquid gold. Originally brewed by Founders to satisfy drinkers who came into their Grand Rapids taproom looking for Miller Lite, this low-ABV “golden lager” (4.4 percent) was one of the best-selling beers at Citizens Bank Park last year. That trend that should continue with a team expected to put a ton of “crooked numbers” on the board.
The Troegenator: This beer isn’t as easily found at the ballpark as it once was — maybe the whopping 8.2 percent ABV put it into a mini hibernation. This chewy double bock — a staple of fasting German monks — is the perfect opening day beverage, especially for a chilly March afternoon. Look at the can, too. Under the proper light, the mythical creature looks like Charlie Manuel right before he clocked Howard Eskin.
Summer Love: We’re throwing this Victory favorite on here as a worthy candidate for Honorable Mention. Before they changed the label — it had a friggin’ baseball and batter on the can! — Summer Love was the unofficial beer of cornhole, washers, ladder ball and tailgate games everywhere along Pattison Avenue. Unfortunately, the new design is geared a little more toward Woodstock than South Philly.
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