Rant to Qwest Field: Please Pour Craft Beer in the Upper Levels

January 3rd, 2011 · 14 Comments · General Beer News

First of all, that was a pretty great Seahawks game last night, huh? It is probably the most I have enjoyed a game in the four years I have been a season ticket holder.  The crowd was pumped, and the team played well enough to pull out the win, when few people outside of Seattle were giving them much of a chance. It was fun to be there for it.

It’s no secret that Qwest Field has improved their craft beer selection over the past couple of seasons, in part due to the addition of the Sounders and Qwest management thinking that soccer fans will drink good beer, while Seahawks fans are content with mostly swill.

For Seahawks games, there are now several “craft beer carts” in the lower 100 levels that offer beers such as Big Al Pale Ale and Brougham Bitter, Firestone Walker DBA, Skagit River Skullers IPA (yes!), Three Skulls Amber, Elysian Men’s Room Red, and others. While it’s not the best selection ever, it is a huge step up from what was available at the stadium just two years ago.

But, here’s the kicker: that good stuff is only available  on the lower level (and maybe in the 200 level club seating, etc…they don’t let my kind in there). If you’re sitting in the 300 level seats, as I do, you had better get your fill before venturing up, or you can go all the way back down to get your good beer. Upstairs, most stands have some selection of Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, etc…there are also taps of Pyramid Hefe and maybe Widmer Hefe, but come on. It’s 35 degrees out and you’re pushing Hefes on people? I even recall a stand or two a few weeks ago that had two beer offerings, both of which were Hefeweizens. Really? Do you really need to offer two Hefes at the same stand? How about Pyramid Snow Cap, even? We walked around the entire upper-level of Qwest that week in search of a decent non-Hefe beer, and we were not able to find one. We found one stand that had a winter beer (Winterhook?), but they were out of it – and it wasn’t even half time.

Why are the beverage options set up this way? A little boy pointing in the direction of the lower level seats last night and speaking to his sister hit the nail right on the head: “That’s where the rich people sit.” Qwest management seems to think that those of us sitting in the 300’s have no interest in craft beer. They think because we have cheaper seats, we like bland beers. It can’t be that it is more expensive, because they charge pretty much the same amount at the craft carts as they do for BMC swill. I can’t think of any other reasonable explanation, but I’d love to hear one.

So, Qwest: take just one of the multiple craft beer carts from downstairs and put it upstairs to see how it does. Why not? I usually just stop drinking after I finish the beer I brought up from downstairs, and we have ventured back downstairs to refill a couple of times. But, it’s nights like last night where I’m lazy and really want a beer, so I grab a Coors Light bottle that it reminds me of just how bad those beers are. Yes, it’s football…but, bad beer is bad beer. I can drink bad beer at a football game sometimes, but I shouldn’t have to make that choice in the beer-rich city of Seattle. The mountains on my Coors Light bottle weren’t even blue. That made me sad.


14 Comments so far ↓

  • Kevin Lathrop

    I had a Snowcap Ale last night in the 300s. There’s a stand called Brews something near Sec 333 and it cost $8.50 a pint.

    I went back to get one during halftime and was stunned that they shut off beer sales at the end of halftime. In Seattle, really???

  • DonS

    Thing is, Geoff, as long as you settle for industrosuds, QF management is safe in their assumption that everything can stay as it is. It’s only if sales drop that they might try something different. In my book, No Beer Beats Mediocre Beer just about every time; if it’s bad to have to settle for American Wheat (“Hefeweizen?” It may be on the label, but it isn’t in the glass), it’s worse to settle for mediocre, and you’ve told QF management that you’ll pay for third-rate factory beer instead of simply doing without. If enough people did that, and registered their opinions directly with QF concessions management, maybe you’d get the results you’d be happier with… even if it’s not in time for the upcoming playoff game!

  • Kaiser

    As I said, Don, I usually do abstain from the BMC while I’m up there. Every so often, though, I make a stupid decision and grab one.

    And, I would have rather had an “American Wheat”, but I was getting food and really didn’t feel like waiting in a separate line for a beer I’m still not excited about drinking.

    Kevin – nice…I would have gladly taken one of those last night. It was nowhere to be seen on the visitor’s side of the 300’s (I’m in 312).

    I should really just bring a flask.

  • Alan Moen

    Geoff — good for you! This is unbelievable and embarrassing in a beer town like Seattle. Trust me, it would never happen in Portland, in spite of Widmers’ ties to A-B. if you want to start a petition to Qwest Field management, I’ll be the first one to sign it.

  • Nick

    Same complaint. I’m in 336. at I bet it also has something to do with AB getting a certain number of taps at the stadium. Combine that with your hypothesis = no good beer for us 300 level commoners.

  • john tufanto

    Corp is corp. First – you really think a nano-craft brew can ramp up production-cooperage for a stadium like QF. Really!!! You whiners have obviously no comprehension of the beer industry other than saying “gee this tastes great”. How much $$$ is QF asking for dist. rights??? Sure Two Beers will right a check that will bounce higher than a punt. How many of you have been to other NFL stadiums??? Tell me of your glorious craft beer experience. Shut up and be thankful or — get a better paying job and sit next to me in sect 138 row V and have some quality micro-imports…..

  • ubh

    Can anyone translate John’s comment for me? I’ve read it four times now and can’t figure out what he’s saying.

  • Tracey

    Had a good laugh at John’s comment. I am fairly convinced, knowing the identities of the poster and the commenters above his note, that he is sadly mistaken in his assertion of ignorance on their parts.

    But he does make what is probably a valid point about the big boys and guaranteed taps – I can well imagine that being true. But that doesn’t mean that Qwest cannot provide more decent beer in the 300s and I think that Don hits the nail on the head in suggesting that the way to make that happen is to boycott the pap, and let the management know that this is what is being done. If sales suffer, steps will be taken.

  • Kaiser

    Yeah, I realized who he is too (I was wrong) and he’s more than a bit off base here. Nowhere did I, nor anyone else, mention that we demand that only craft beer be served in the upper levels. We’re asking for a few taps…just a couple craft carts similar to what is downstairs. That would not require the huge increase in volume you are talking about. Do you really think that is beyond the scope of local breweries, John? I don’t think so.

    It also wouldn’t do away with the majority of the BMC already sold upstairs. The big boys would retain their precious tap count and “QF” would still get their $$ for distribution rights, assuming they do. What beer were they pouring previously in the locations where they now have the craft carts downstairs? How did the craft get into the mix?

    As for boycotting, most of us that care enough to demand craft beer already do our own personal boycott (well, most of the time…). I’m afraid the majority of people who would buy craft upstairs don’t feel as strongly as we do. If it was there, they’d buy it. But, they aren’t going to just not drink at a game in order to make a point. I think Qwest would find that they’d sell more beer overall if they added the craft carts upstairs, though. I’d sure by more.

  • Dan

    If it makes you feel any better, I was in a suite for the Falcons game and Amstel Light and Heineken were the only options.

    Also, earlier this season I was in the 200 club level and their idea of a craft beer was AB’s Shock Top. Luckily, I did find a little cart serving Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

  • the real John Tufano

    ok – so whomever this John Tufanto is (not to be confused with Odom Corp’s John Tufano – yours truly) has a rather unique way of getting his point across – basically stop being poorer than he is, sit next to him, and buy him good beer. Just so everyone reading this knows, I am the one whom is referenced above, who works in the Seattle craft beer distribution business, and I am fully in support of getting better beer EVERYWHERE. I am the one who sold Skagit, Fremont and Lazy Boy beers into Safeco Field last season – including the 300 level, 100 level, Diamond Club and Hit it Here Cafe.
    So – ring me up sometime, guy who spells his name just like me, and I’ll buy you a pint.

  • AS

    Liquor Control Board cuts off liquor sales at half time of all games that start after 5pm. Have a friend that works at Qwest Field…they would have made much more money had they been able to keep it open longer but had no choice. Blame national TV.

    I did get a Manny’s up in Section 342 last night… Love that there are good beers at the Sounders game now…didn’t know it was such an issue on the 300 level!

  • mr. howard

    i know a great place a few blocks away next door to the smith tower with 20 great taps! kidding aside, we saw safeco take some great strides last year with some progressive tap choices, so it doesn’t seem a far cry to see some change and qwest. my concern is that the place is bought out! Budweiser and it’s local distributor own the joint! guess the good news that K&L have recently expanded their book to include Elysian and Ninkasi.

  • Ahsan

    u may already be aware of this, regarding Qwest field and beer cup size, but here ya go…


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