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Local Beer, Local Soccer: Always Room For Improvement


By John Kleinchester / Harrison, New Jersey (Red Bulls Arena)

For all intents and purposes, I’m still a soccer noob. My story starts with rooming with a friend in 2005 who was a big Manchester United fan. Sometimes I’d be woken up from his screaming at the television early weekend mornings. At first I was annoyed, but I then became curious. Watching soccer at eight in the morning? And it’s exciting? It just didn’t make sense to me. Before long, I was waking up with him to watch the games and before I knew it I had a Scholes shirt. Soon we’d wake up even earlier on cold winter mornings to get to Nevada Smith’s in Manhattan before it got too packed to move. Something clicked. I was hooked.

Right around the same time, I started to discover the world of craft beer. After years of drinking mass-produced fizzy yellow suds, I was suddenly seeking out the most flavorful and unique beers I could get my hands on. At the time this was far from easy, as most places still only carried your typical Bud/Miller/Coors products. My passion for beer grew even further as I took up homebrewing, which quickly became an obsession of mine. I loved craft beer and I was a big fan of the EPL.

Fast forward to the 2010 World Cup. We all know what happened with the US Men’s National Team. What a run. I had always thought about making the short trip to Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ to check out a game. But seeing just how close the US team got to the quarterfinals was what finally got me into the arena. Just a few days after the World Cup final, the Red Bulls announced the signing of star striker Thierry Henry. I got tickets to a mini-tournament featuring Sporting Lisbon, Manchester City, Tottenham and the Red Bulls. It was the perfect storm of soccer. The Red Bulls actually defeated Manchester City 2-1 to the elation of the crowd (granted, most of the top talent was in South Africa, but still a cool feat).

Ever since, I’ve watched every RBNY game and have become a staunch supporter. Although I’m not one of the Viking Army or the Empire Supporters Club, the groups the make up the loud and boisterous South Ward, I’m getting there. I’ve been back to Red Bull Arena quite a few times since my initial visit. Living in Jersey City, it’s only a 20-minute trip (or from Manhattan, a 35 minute trip via Path train from the World Trade Center). Of course, whenever I attend a live sporting event I like to seek out the stadium’s best craft beer options, provided there are any. Thankfully, craft beer does exist at Red Bull Arena:

Section 104: Yuengling Lager – medium $9, large $12
Section 114: Brooklyn Lager – 16oz. cans $9
Section 124: Bottles of Long Trail Belgian White, Pale Ale, Pollenator; Sam Adams Boston Lager, Brooklyn Lager 16oz. cans  – all $9
Section 102: Brooklyn Brewery branded stand – Brooklyn Lager & Guinness 16oz. cans – $9 (this stand is mobile so location may change)

This selection isn’t great, but it’s better than some of the other stadiums out there. At least they have the local option of Brooklyn Lager, but us Red Bulls fans want more. They may be the New York Red Bulls, but their home is in New Jersey. Give us Climax beers (10 miles away). Give us New Jersey Beer Co. (9 miles away). Or if you want to keep it NY, give us more options from Brooklyn Brewery. They can their Summer Ale and East India Pale Ale too. Or even better, give us Brooklyn Brewery on draught! We’ve also got Sixpoint and Kelso making fine beers in Brooklyn. Craft beer, much like the MLS, has an uphill battle ahead of it. For both it’s all about awareness, advocacy and appreciation. Again, the beer selection at Red Bull Arena isn’t great, but it is a start. There’s always room for improvement.

About John

John Kleinchester is a beer enthuisast and growing soccer fan. He writes for and takes beautiful pictures at his website, Beertography (“craft beer and homebrewing in photo form”). You can also follow him on Twitter.

Tags: Local Soccer Local Beer

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