It wasn't easy, but I finally got to drink a gluten-free beer yesterday at a Jaguars game at EverBank Field. Just $11 for 12 ounces of Redbridge. But I wasn't going to be denied.
Here's a little background for those of you who haven't followed the story. It started during the summer when I convinced Bill Prescott, the Jaguars' senior vice president of stadium operations, that they should be able to offer gluten-free Redbridge beer at Jaguars games. Redbridge is made by Anheuser-Busch, so it is easily available from the distributors for any establishment that offers Anheuser-Busch products such as Budweiser.
In late August, Prescott told me that, yes, Redbridge would be available at four specialty beer stands and carts in the main seating area (it's also available in the club seat sections).
But when I went to my first Jaguars game this year, I couldn't find it. I visited several of the beer stands but nobody had it. And when I asked about it, I got that usual blank look from someone who didn't understand what I was talking about. With gametime approaching, I gave up and went to my seat, very unhappy.
So yesterday, I was determined to go early, before the crowds made the beer vendors frantic, to find my Redbridge. I got there an hour before the game and started my quest.
I circled the entire lower deck, visiting every beer stand. No Redbridge. And when I asked, of course, no one knew anything about it.
Not about to give up, and with plenty of time before the game started, I went to the upper deck. Still no luck.
Finally, I got to an actual bar tucked away in the northeast corner of upper deck that I didn't know existed. I asked a woman working there who said they didn't have Redbridge. But this time, I found someone who was very helpful. There were a couple of stadium operations people standing outside the bar and she said she would ask them where I could find Redbridge.
So we went to one of those guys who asked me what section I was sitting in. I told him Section 144 and he told me he would call the warehouse and get Redbridge delivered to the specialty beer cart in the tunnel behind Section 140.
I went back downstairs to that cart and, of course, they didn't know what I was talking about when I asked about Redbridge. But I figured I would give them a few minutes to get the beer delivered.
Ten minutes later, I returned and, sure enough, there were six Redbridges sitting there with the other specialty beers. The woman smiled and told me they just got them.
So I paid my $11 and they opened a bottle and poured the 12-ounce beer into a 32-ounce plastic cup, which looked quite comical (see the photo). But I had my gluten-free beer, 19 minutes before gametime.
I wish I had gotten the names of the woman at the bar and the stadium operations guy who made it happen. It didn't take much, but they made the extra effort to accommodate a fan, and they should be commended.
I was so happy that I spent another $11 to have a second beer in the second quarter (full disclosure: I got my ticket for free from a friend, so I could justify overspending for beer).
So yes, you can get gluten-free beer at a Jaguars game. But really Jags: does it have to be so hard?