Monday, January 27, 2014

Is there any good beer at the Times Union Center?

Times Union Center 009I wouldn’t say Albany is a craft beer haven, but I do think we’ve got a really good scene here. Seems like no matter where you go you’re never too far from at least a decent beer selection. Unless you go to the Times Union Center (TUC), then you’re S.O.L.
I was at the TUC Saturday night for the annual Union/RPI “Mayor’s Cup” hockey game. For the sake of this blog, I surveyed the beer selection of the entire arena. I was extremely disappointed by the uninspired, pandering selection of boring beer. I don’t understand why in this day and age, Aramark stocks their concession stands with the most generic fizzy yellow beers on the planet. Budweiser, Miller, Coors, Heineken, Labatt Blue, Stella Artois and Dos XX are all essentially the same damn beer! Craft beer aficionados will have to settle for “crafty” beers like Blue Moon, Redhook and Samuel Adams.

Times Union Center 011And don’t even get me started on the prices. The cheapest possible beer you can get in the arena is a 16oz can of any of the domestic macros for $6.50 ($0.41 per ounce). There’s also 20oz draught pours for $7 ($0.35 per ounce), and 24oz cans for $9 ($0.38 per ounce). If you’re a big spender you might opt for a 24oz king can of Heineken for a whopping $11 ($0.46 per ounce)!

Here’s a chart I made of all the beers for sale at the TUC and their prices:
It’s curious that the 20oz draught pours are actually cheaper by the ounce than the cans. I also find their definition of “premium” to be rather ridiculous. According to Aramark, Dos XX is as much of a “premium” beer as Samuel Adams. They also consider Labatt Blue to be a “domestic” beer – LOL! Though it was strange that they had no bottled beer, not even plastic or aluminum bottles.
Times Union Center 020
For the heck of it, I decided to get a can of Stella Artois. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that beer and I’ve only had it on tap or out of a skunky green bottle. While it wasn’t bad, it was bland and watery – I could just barely tolerate it. I didn’t realize it until I got back to my seat, but I had gotten hosed. A 14.9oz can of Stella Artois was $7.50 – that’s over 50 cents per ounce! It’s the most expensive beer per ounce at the TUC. In retrospect, I should’ve played it safe and spent the extra fifty cents on a Sam Adams or Redhook, plus I would’ve gotten over 25% more beer.

I’m going to do some investigative journalism on this and find out why there isn’t any good beer available at the TUC. Don’t the people at Aramark know the Capital District is embracing craft beer with open arms? Surely the management of the Times Union Center must have an inkling of this considering the great beer bars that are just down the street. And why do they charge an arm and a leg for stuff that costs a fraction of these prices at retail? Why do people pay premium prices for cheap beer? What will you get next time you’re there?

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