The beer options at Citi Field will take a lurch forward next year when Mikkeller opens up a 10,000 square foot brewery and restaurant attached to the park in Flushing the New York Mets call home.
60 taps, merchandise, and even a beer shop for takehome purchases will grace the corner of the park behind right field. Fans won’t be able to take beers from the brewery into the park at first, but the bar will be a mere 30 seconds walk around the corner from the right field gate. Pregame plans are set.
What may be most interesting about this venture is what it says about Mikkeller’s identity and growth as a brewery. This will be Mikkeller’s second brewery location in America after founder Mikkel Borg Bjergsø spent years contract brewing and collaborating with many small breweries around the country.
That other location in San Diego, and the existing partnership with Citi Field – Mikkeller’s Henry Hops and Say Hey Sally have been on sale there this year – have required the famously erratic brewer to settle on a few flagships over the past year. “The goal of those beers, to some extent, is familiarity and consistency,” admitted Mikkeller’s Executive Vice President, Jim Raras Jr, “but largely the goal and mindset is to not go that route.”
Fans of Mikkeller will count this as a good sign that the brewery will stay true to its identity. There might not be a better description of that style than the one that brewer Frank Boon gave Jonah Weiner for his piece in the New York Times:
“When I asked Boon what he liked about Mikkel’s beer, he responded with a fable intended to praise Mikkel’s unorthodox, prolific creativity: “A bee is intelligent, but if you put it in a bottle and you point the opening of the bottle away from the sun, the bee will only fly toward the sun, and he will never escape. If you put 20 mosquitoes into the bottle instead, they may have no intelligence, but they fly in every direction, and one will be free in two seconds.” Mikkel raised an eyebrow gamely. “So you are saying I’m a mosquito?” he asked.”
Mikkeller is innovative and expansive. “Our goal is to try anything once, and that’s how we designed the plant in Citi Field,” said Raras. He pointed to the fact that they chose to focus on single-batch fermenters when they planned the production area in Citi. They wanted to stay agile.
That means that the New York location is likely to follow the path laid down by their San Diego brewery so far. Early on, that location consolidated a little to a few flagship beers. Their hazy New England style Windy Hill IPA was very well received and is continually available, for example.
But no brewery on BeerGraphs has more unique beers than Mikkeller, and so their innovative nature couldn’t be suppressed long. “Since the beginning of 2017, they’ve started releasing one new beer in a can a week… or more,” laughed Raras, “We’ll need to clone Keith Shore in order to keep up with the label designs.”
And he sees that same path – moving from an early focus on consistency and accessibility back to their innovative roots over time – happening in New York.
“Part of what makes his so exciting is that we can make beers for particular teams and players when they come to town,” pointed out the EVP. He said the Padres series will be circled for a collaboration… with themselves, their San Diego brewery. And the superior food options at Citi – Raras mentioned Danny Meyer and David Chang in particular – means that there will be all sorts of inspiration on hand, and lots of crazy beers in among their 60 taps. Not that they’ve ever lacked inspiration.
“You’ll see a lot of experimentation, and some will be amazing, and some may not be, but that is the nature of experimentation,” said Raras, and there may not be a better way to sum up the upside in having a Mikkeller brewer attached to a ballpark.