The Draft Room is located in right field, right where the retired numbers of Luis Gonzalez and Jackie Robinson will soon be joined by Randy Johnson. Even though it's up on the second level, with the suites, etc. the venue is open to all fans: there are signs on the main concourse to guide you to the elevator which takes you up to the entrance [you can access it from elsewhere, but I've heard reports you may be hassled about not having a suite-level ticket].
They don't appear to have changed the layout much. As you come in, the hostess booth is on your left and ahead of it you'll then see the long bar, which sits in the center of the room. On the right is the buffet line, and down to the left is the exit to the balcony, overlooking Chase Field. Generally, if you want a table there, you have to book in advance [call 602-462-3430 for reservations]. We lucked out, and they had one spare, but you should note, that side and level of the park is in the full glare of the sun when the roof is open, especially for early-evening games. We lasted about 20 minutes before deciding the view (below) wasn't worth it, and bailing for a shadier spot.
The alternative is sitting inside: there are tables and chairs littered throughout the room, with the prime spots up against the glass wall overlooking the patio. These are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you want one of those, you should definitely get there early. However, we opted to sit a little further back, and move down to our seats when game time approached. That may be the best way to use the Draft Room. Show up early, and hang out there for an hour or so, in comfortable seating and with food and adult beverages to hand.
The food and drink
We were there at the end of the first week [Bradley's debut, to be precise] and it seemed the dining situation was still being worked out. They gave us a menu, but we were then immediately informed everything was "off", and the only thing available was the buffet. Speaking to most of the food, will thus have to wait for another visit. [See what I put myself through for you people?] The buffet costs $40, and also appears unchanged from previous visits: the usual range of carved meats, sides and some interestingly gooey deserts. It's not cheap, but you can return as often as you want over an extended period, and the food is certainly far better than the 'All You Can Eat' seats!
Now, to the important thing. The beer. It's generally been a weakness of Chase, something particularly brought home when we went to San Diego in 2013 and saw the far more impressive selection of brews available there. Sure, you can get a 12 oz beer for $4: but it's not a brand I'd drink by choice, and would tend to suggest you cut out the middleman and pour it directly into a urinal. The Draft Room addresses this, offering a selection of 20 different beers. I believe these will be rotated in and out (as shown below, there's a "beer wall" at the entrance, listing the current choices), a bit of a mixed blessing, meaning the particular one you want may have run out of stock.
On the plus side, I was impressed by the reasonable pricing, typically around $7.50-$8.50 for a pint. That's hardly any more than outside pub pricing, and came as a pleasant surprise, considering I was expecting something well into double-digits. Though if I may offer a suggestion? Do not waste nozzles on Miller Lite, etc. It's like having a high-end restaurant and offering instant Ramen noodles. I tried three different beers while there, and all of them were very drinkable. I think my particular favorite was the Grand Canyon American Pilsener, but here's as many of the list as I can remember, decipher from my notes, or read on the photo! [As noted, subject to change over time]
- Nimbus Old Monkeyshine (Tucson)
- Ironwood Imperial Porter (Phoenix)
- Lagunitas IPA (Petaluma)
- Four Peaks Kilt Lifter (Tempe)
- Goose Islant 312 IPA (St. Louis)
- Lumberyard Pinecone Pale ALE (Flagstaff
- Blue Moon Seasonal (Golden) - this was a slightly peach-flavored beer
- Lumberyard Hefeweizen (Flagstaff)
- Devil's Ale (Chandler)
- Kane County Cougar Ale (Chicago) - brewed for our A-ball affiliate!
- Oak Creek Nut Brown (Sedona)
- Biltmore Blonde (Phoenix)
- Papago Orange Blossom (Scottsdale)
- Four Peaks Short Hop Session IPA (Tempe)
- Grand Canyon American Pilsener (Williams)
- Prescott Lodgepole (Prescott)
- M*ll*r Lite, B*d Light, C**rs Light and M*ch*l*b Ultra. Or, alternatively, you could just hammer rusty nails into your tongue and save a few bucks.
Even at the sixth home game of the year, this was still a work in progress. The lack of food options was disappointing, and while the service was perfectly friendly, we noticed large queues forming at the bar on some occasions, even though the game was ten thousand short of a sellout. [This lack of urgency does seem to have been an early-season problem at many concession stands, according to reports] But we were comfortably ensconced, in absolutely no rush and happy to wave down a passing waitress if we needed anything.
If you are similarly not in any hurry, and are anything like a fan of beer, I definitely recommend the place. It has a nicely informal vibe, and offers an excellent selection of brews to suit all tastes, at reasonable prices. We will certainly be back, to enjoy what may now be one of Chase's hidden gems.