Baseball careers, kiss cam moments and Howie Rose’s calls are made every year at Citi Field.
Craft beer joins that list for the 2018 season.
A 10,000-square-foot brewery and restaurant by the Denmark-based, cult-favorite Mikkeller brewing company opens to the public at the base of the Mets’ Flushing stadium on Sunday.
Mikkeller Brewing NYC, which will be accessible from an entryway on 126th Street between the right field and bullpen gates, but not from inside the ballpark, will make its own suds in a 20-barrel brewhouse visible over a short wall from the dining room and bar.
“You’ll be able to see the brewery, see people actually working, be able to see the brewers up on the brewing deck, as well as hear the sounds and smell the smells of the actual manufacturing process while you’re in the restaurant and bar area,” says Mikkeller NYC executive vice president Jim Raras, who is overseeing the global company’s 32nd location.
A transparent brewing process (there will be no glass barrier dividing the spaces) is important to Mikkeller because, says Raras, “globally and here, we put a lot of time, attention and effort into the production part of things and we wanted to allow people to see that part of the process. We view this project as a great opportunity . . . to educate people” — in particular, tens of thousands of blue-and-orange-clad Mets supporters streaming in and out of Citi Field more than 100 days a year.
New York City has seen a craft beer revolution in recent years, with breweries popping up throughout the five boroughs and providing a peek behind the brewing curtain, but none have yet to set their sights specifically on MLB fans.
Mikkeller NYC won’t, however, limit its schedule to the baseball season, keeping its 60 taps open year-round. Brews exclusive to the Citi Field location will include a series of ballpark-themed beers, which will be available as a tasting flight. The two selections that made their stadium debut last season — an IPA called Henry Hops and a pilsner named Say Hey Sally — will return with slightly tweaked recipes and New York City water (“a great starting place,” says Raras), alongside four other beers. The brew’s bar menu also will offer four-ounce and large pint or 11-ounce pours of all the beers on tap.
As for brew-complementary bites, the main line-up will feature your standard bar items: hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. But acclaimed Nordic chef Claus Meyer also is involved, supplying falafel and roast pork sandwiches, and Jackson Heights Korean fried chicken spot Unidentified Flying Chicken will be contributing chicken strips and spicy pork bulgogi fries, Raras says.
America’s pastime aficionados who choose to dine in before, after or even during a game (there will be TVs to accommodate those without tickets) will take their seats in a relatively open space with baseball card-inspired murals by Mikkeller art director Keith Shore.
“There are these large steel structural elements that literally hold up part of the stadium that are in our space, so there’s a certain level of industrial feel to it,” Raras explains of the interior, designed by New York City-based architect Dan Bernstein.
Visitors also will find a glass-walled private dining room with exposed wooden beams in the center and a shop, delineated by modular shelving, selling beers canned on the premises and other branded items.
When Mikkeller’s conversations with Citi Field began in 2016, a physical presence at the stadium wasn’t immediately on the table, Raras says, but a brewery inside a ballpark appealed to the Copenhagen-based company because “Mikkeller doesn’t want to go around and replicate things they’ve already done.”
“I think the fact that it’s in a sporting arena really set it apart from many other opportunities and gave it that cool factor,” Raras says.
Mikkeller, which landed in the U.S. in San Diego in 2016, traces its origins to founder and former math and physics teacher Mikkel Borg Bjergsø’s home brewing projects. According to its website, the brewery has created more than 1,000 different beers and currently exports its brews to more than 50 countries.