Crying in their beer: Vet concessionaire eyed by L&I

The Phillies’ half-million-dollar suds-skimming scam frothed into extra innings at the Vet last night.

After the Daily News reported yesterday that the stadium was selling short cups of brew at baseball games, city officials vowed to send inspectors to the ballyard to test the beer themselves.

“We’re going to make sure they’re dispensing the beer they say they are,” said Fran Egan, commissioner of the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

She said L&I inspectors, armed with measuring devices, would visit the stadium as early as today.

What they’ll find, though, is a slick advertising trick that’s as smooth as a Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance double-play.

Here’s the setup:

During a visit to the Phillies/Reds game earlier this week, Joe Sixpack discovered that large beers – among the most expensive brew in the Major Leagues – are consistently missing two ounces.

Though signs at each beer stand clearly stated that these cups contain 18 ounces, not one among the 10 that I measured held more than 16 ounces. The cup simply could not hold a full 18-ounce beer with a minimal 1/2-inch collar of foam.

The simple solution might have been to pour those 18 ounces of brew into larger cups.

But in a slick move that most fans probably won’t catch, Ogden Entertainment – the Phillies $16 million-a-year concessionaire – simply pulled the signs.

It did not drop it’s wallet-assaulting $5-a-cup charge.

Nor did anyone from the team, the stadium or Ogden offer any public apologies for the apparent rip-off, worth an estimated $495,000 in skimmed suds.

Caught red-handed, the Phillies refused to take any responsibility for short-cupping its loyal, long-suffering fans. A front-office spokesman said Ogden is responsible for beer-pricing.

Representatives of the company were unavailable for comment when I visited the Vet last night. No one could explain why the signs had been removed.

Meanwhile, L&I boss Egan said the city had never received any complaints from thirsty Philadelphians about the shallow swallows. But, after yesterday’s report, she said her office would visit, pronto.


Nope, Egan said. “We’ll tell them we’re there. ”

Egan conceded L&I has little experience in inspecting alcohol.

It’s not that difficult, according to the experts I chatted with yesterday at San Francisco’s Department of Weights and Measures. The City by the Bay makes a big deal about ensuring the locals get an honest pint.

“You go to the bar with a measuring cup, and you pour the glass of beer into it,” said Sid Baker, assistant commissioner of weights and measurers. “If they say it’s 18 ounces, there should be 18 ounces of liquid. ”

And that does not include the foam, Baker said, because that’s mostly air.

When I spoke to City Hall officials yesterday, some tried to laugh off the whole scam, charging that the Daily News was sensationalizing a minor problem.

“It’s only beer,” said one administration source.

But it’s more than just beer.

It’s a day at the ball park, where an honest cup of cold brew is an integral part of the national pasttime.


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