Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Baseball and Beer: CHS Stadium (St. Paul, MN)

I'm not a baseball fan, but I do generally make a yearly Twins pilgrimage. I liked the Metrodome with the cheap seats straight out from home plate. Baseball's pitch for me is a beer, shelling peanuts and conversation punctuated by the crack of a bat. I love the new Twins stadium, but it lacks the cheap date appeal.

With my sister and baseball-obsessed brother-in-law in town, it seemed a perfect opportunity to check out a Saints game at the newly opened CHS Stadium.  In short, I'm impressed.

Like Twins' Target Field, the Saints' ballpark setting is intimate and seems to bring the crowd into the game. I hadn't been to a Saints game for years, so I have little memory of Midway Stadium for comparison. But, for me, an $8 cheap seat is perfectly acceptable price for my level of commitment. Add in free parking at my wife's work instead of a trip to Minneapolis, it's a great deal. We took a walk around the stadium and my favorite part is that the craft beer wagon is right next to the cheap seats. Perfect! I have a short walk to beer and sit with people who don't mind others talking rather than staring intently at every pitch.

View from the cheap seats
And the all Minnesota beer list is extensive with the exception of North Lake Brewery off to the side. I started with a 612 Unrated Rye IPA to walk a lap around the park before the first pitch. For the next beer, a couple of innings in, a long line deterred me and I got a pint of Honey Brown Lager from North Lakebig mistake. It's enticing to go to the short line, but it's short for a reason. I assume it's ostracized from the other beers because it's brewed outside of Minnesota in spite of it's "Minnesota owned and distributed" statement on the website. Do yourself a favor and get back in line for the beer wagon, even if it's long. I learned my lesson and waited for a Badger Hill White IPA, which was refreshing, light without being thin, and included a significant and satisfying hop bite.  

The only real downside is that the angle from the cheap seats to home plate is hard right and my family sat to my left, which spun my head like a tennis match. South of the beer tent to the left of the bleachers are really cheap seats on a grassy patch (called the berm online) for $5 that has a straight on view; I'm a bit old for sitting on grass for nine innings. However, the drink rail seats behind the berm look perfect. Next time. I get a chance to check out the park again in a few weeks for the Internet Cat Video Festival organized by the Walker Art Center. I assume the craft beer wagon will be open and I look forward to a relaxing event of furry frivolity in a well designed and fun setting.

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