At the Linc, you won’t find great local brews

IF YOU’RE the kind of football fan who doesn’t care what kind of fizzy yellow beer is in your cup as long as there’s lots of it, you’re gonna love drinkin’ at the Lincoln.

Bud, Miller, Coors – the big three are everywhere, and they’re served in BIG cups. No more of the Vet’s questionably sized 18-ouncers; the standard Linc lager is a bladder-testing 24 ounces.

And it’s served in a sturdy plastic cup – no threat of soggy paper messes.

At $6 a draft, it’s also – believe it or not – one of the cheaper brews in the NFL.

With dozens more beer kiosks and concession stands than at the Vet, it’s hard to imagine anyone will have to wait in line for the stuff.

That’s the good news.

The bad: Continuing a trend in which the team has seemingly favored concession deals with out-of-towners, the Birds have all but turned their back on Philadelphia-area beer.

You can forget about finding locally made gems like Flying Fish or Manayunk. Even if the Eagles’ front office doesn’t know an ale from a water bucket, you’d think it would’ve occurred to one of those bozos that two of the area’s best beers – Yards and Victory – have names that were made for football.

Instead, the Linc’s idea of variety is sadly manifested by the fraudulently named Beers of the World kiosk. The lonely stand at the northeast corner of the stadium features such worldly classics as Coors Light and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Seven-fifty will get you a 24-ounce can of Heineken or Amstel Light, which, considering the lack of water fountains, is a last-gasp thirst alternative. A frothy cup of Boddingtons Pub Ale at the same price is probably your better bet.

Meanwhile, the single biggest surprise at the stadium: no Yuengling.

Unless you’re lucky enough to put your fanny into one of those megabuck club seats, you can’t buy a cup of Pottsville’s finest at the Linc. Twelve-ounce bottles of Lager, at 6 bucks a pop, are available only in the members-only club concourse.

For me, the egregious absence of the city’s No. 1 draft is only worsened by the presence of Rolling Rock, made in (gasp!) Steelers country.

Look, it would be easy enough to say that the dearth of Philly beer is a sign that the Eagles are out of touch with their fans. But – given the litany of fan-unfriendly problems at the Linc (hoagies, water, handicap parking, seat selection, etc.) – that’s whipping a dead horse.

Instead, the beer selection is almost undoubtedly a function of million-dollar licensing deals.

Miller Brewing and Anheuser-Busch are both so-called founding partners at the stadium. Though the deals don’t give the two exclusive vending rights, they do give them the majority of the tap handles. Miller also got dibs on a party tent at the stadium entrance on Headhouse Plaza, and A-B got the mammoth bar at the northwest corner of the 100 Level.

Meanwhile, Coors is the new official beer sponsor of the NFL, so it’s getting a chunk of business, too.

Against that competition, the little guys can’t make the stadium draft.

Which is just plain wrong.

The Eagles soaked taxpayers for millions with promises that the Linc’s construction would benefit the region’s economy. And in the food concessions, the stadium actually does share the wealth with a few local vendors, like Termini Bros. and the Sang Kee restaurant. But with all due respect to the hundreds of local warehouse workers and truck drivers who deliver beer from St. Louis, I can’t think of a better way to help area business than by featuring the beer that is brewed right here in the Delaware Valley. Indeed, like the Eagles, many of these small local brewers have been the recipients of government loans and grants. Wouldn’t it be in the best interests of everyone if one huge, taxpayer-

financed entity (the stadium) helped out the others?

With scores of concession stands and big, heavy plastic cups, the Linc does a few things right. Given the improvement over the Vet, I doubt many fans will gripe.

Bottom line: More beer, less taste. And a waste of an opportunity.

 Extra pints

Anheuser-Busch is running one of its Freshness Days at the Linc on opening day.

All 24-ounce cans of Budweiser and Bud Light will be packaged on Monday morning with a Born-On Date of Sept. 8, 2003. A-B’s Williamsburg, Va., plant will send us a trailerful of 24 pallets in time for the Eagles’ 9 p.m. kickoff against Tampa Bay.

* A bartender in the club concourse told me there’s a chance micros will be available in the high-priced seating area later this season, “but don’t hold your breath.” If you don’t have club tix, you’ll have to find a way to sneak in. (Hint: Look for unlocked doors off the staircase in the southwest corner.)

If they catch you, here’s what you’re missing: Foster’s Lager on tap, Guinness Stout in cans and Stella Artois, Sam Adams, Dos Equis, Harp, Corona, MGD and Labatt in bottles. There’s also whiskey and cannolis, but that’s another column.

* Looking for an out-of-the-way place at the Linc for some quiet contemplation? Head for the stadium’s MADD booth on the east side of the 100 Level concourse – it has to be the loneliest place in South Philadelphia. On my visit, it was manned by two volunteers who seemed to be wondering what they’d done wrong to be sentenced to stadium duty.

When I asked why MADD has a booth at a stadium full of beer-drinkers, they shrugged and handed me a bumper sticker:

“Impairment begins with the first drink.”

In my case, the advice was about three beers too late.

* The Eagles boast that the Linc has more bathrooms than the Vet, but my inspection shows they aren’t very beer-friendly.

The tops of the urinals are pitched, making it impossible to rest your beer while unzipping. You can balance your brew on the plumbing, but – lack of balance being an inherent adjunct to inebriation – that’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Let’s hear it for cup holders in the men’s rooms!

* I noted that Linc beer, at $6 for 24-ounce drafts, is one of the cheaper NFL beers. That works out to 25 cents an ounce.

Last year, according to Team Marketing Report, the average NFL beer was 28 cents an ounce.

The cheapest beer in the league: the Carolina Panthers, at $4.50 for a 24-ounce cup (19 cents an ounce). The steepest: the Meadowlands, at $6.25 for 16 ounces (39 cents an ounce). At that price, you could buy a bottle of Trappist-made Chimay Blue at the Six-Pack Store (7015 Roosevelt Blvd., Northeast).

 Joe Sixpack, by Staff Writer Don Russell, was written this week with a bottle of Lancaster Milk Stout.


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