Although the Padres’ home opener isn’t until Friday, Stone Brewing has already suffered a loss at Petco Park.
The Escondido brewery’s beer garden on the ballpark’s fifth floor - a fixture since 2014 - is gone. In its place is Wonderland Ocean Pub, with a food and beer menu that does not include Stone.
“That will have more of a dining experience and a broader beer selection - Resident, Ballast Point, Iron Fist, AleSmith, Pizza Port, Anheuser-Busch,” said Scott Marshall, Padres’ vice president, chief hospitality officer.
Noting that Stone beers will still be sold at Petco, Marshall denied that the change was prompted by dissatisfaction with the Escondido-based brewery.
“Not at all,” Marshall said. “It was more of an opportunity to create more of a dining experience.”
Stone, the largest independent brewery in San Diego County, had no immediate comment when contacted Monday.
There were other losers and winners when the Padres announced their beer and craft cocktail lineup for the 2017 season.
Winner: Anheuser-Busch InBev
The world’s largest brewery has expanded its menu in the Beer Loft, arguably the choicest spot in the Western Metal Supply Co. building, with seating indoor and outdoor, the latter on a balcony over left field.
A-B-owned breweries have also expanded their footprint within the ballpark. 10 Barrel - which is opening a brewpub in the East Village, about a half mile from Petco - has a bar near Phil’s BBQ in section 113. Elysian, another A-B brewery, has a bar at Park at the Park.
Club 19 on the Toyota Terrace is reopening as .394. The spot will include beers from Miramar’s AleSmith - especially .394 pale ale, which was brewed with input from the late Padre Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn - and a menu designed with help from his widow, Alicia Gwynn.
“We are really paying homage to our greatest player, Tony Gwynn, and the beer he made with AleSmith,” Marshall said.
The beer’s name? That was Gwynn’s batting average in the strike-shortened 1994 season - still the highest single-season average since Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941.
Loser: Deep Eddy
The brand’s “Vodka Hideaway” in the left field corner terrace is no more. In its place is ...
Winner: Cutwater Spirits
... Cutwater Still, a craft cocktail spot featuring the spirits of Cutwater, a Miramar distillery founded by Jack White and Yuseff Cherney, formerly with Ballast Point Brewing.
Winner: Micheladas, i.e. Anheuser-Busch InBev/Cutwater
Expect to see more michelada carts around the ballpark, some of them with “Michelada Especiales,” beer seasoned with Cutwater Bloody Mary mix.
The beer? Estrella, the lager from Jalisco, Mexico, that is part of the Grupo Modelo stable. Grupo Modelo, in turn, is owned by Anheuser-Busch.
This brewery is small - it’s wedged into downtown San Diego’s The Local - and new, having opened in 2016. Yet Resident will be among the featured beers at Wonderland Ocean Pub.
“It comes down to production,” Marshall said, “if they can fully produce enough beer to keep up with demand.”
For years, the Escondido brewery fought to break into Petco. When the upper level beer garden opened in 2014, Stone declared victory.
“We finally worked our way into the ballpark,” the brewery’s web site said, “so our fans can now enjoy Stone beers in a palm tree-adorned outdoor beer garden along with a sweeping view of downtown’s East Village and the San Diego Bayfront.”
While that win proved short-lived, Arrogant Bastard and other Stone ales are still sold around Petco - and at the brewery’s East Village tap room, 795 J St., just a foul tip away from Petco’s Park at the Park.
Still, Petco’s beer offerings seem to be more corporate than they were three years ago. (Especially after local craft beer veteran - and major Petco player - Ballast Point was acquired by Constellation Brands in 2015.) Are multi-nationals like Anheuser-Busch InBev muscling into the ballpark?
“It’s more of a complementary situation than the term you used, ‘muscling in,’” Marshall said. “It’s more of how people are elevating an overall beer experience.”