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The Beer Circle » Beer at the Ballpark » Beer at the Ballpark: Nationals Park

Beer at the Ballpark: Nationals Park

Editor’s Note: Welcome to the newest column on The Beer Circle: Beer at the Ballpark! In this set of posts, our writers will take “business trips” to everyone’s favorite summer hangout, baseball stadiums. We’ll let you know what kind of beer and prices to expect, as well as some general musings on the overall quality of the experience. Have you been to one of these ballparks? Or do you disagree with how we characterized your home team? Let us know!

Miller Lite: Catering to College Kids Everywhere

As you may or may not know, the vast majority of the writers on this blog support Pittsburgh’s professional sports teams. So when the Pirates made their way to our nation’s capital to play the Washington Nationals, I couldn’t help but have a few beers with friends and watch what was sure to be complete dominance by the visiting team.

I took the vast majority of my notes and pictures on Thursday’s game, but I did also attend Wednesday’s –where the Nationals notched a victory. I got to Nationals Park at around 5:30pm, grabbed a $5 pre-game beer (Miller/Coors products only), took in some batting practice, and cased the place for the best beer deals for later in the game. My $5 Miller Lite pounder came with a nice surprise as it was my first experience with the punch top can.

Now that I felt good about myself for obtaining the cheapest beer per ounce deal in the stadium, I made my way to the more expensive, but much better beers. I found that the selection overall was quite good, but inconsistent. You got a much different tap list depending on the stand. At one station, you might find Dos Equis and New Castle, while at the next you’re greeted with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Blue Moon, and its various seasonals. This is a nice way to diversify the selection, but I thought it was a little strange to not have any method to the madness. There weren’t any specific craft beer stands, but a decent selection can be found with some work. Here’s an example of one of the better stocked beer stands.

Example of the selection

My second issue with the selection was that it failed to feature beers from the region. When I go to a ballpark, I want beer from that home team. The only two beers available that were brewed in the DC/MD/VA area were Flying Dog UnderDog Atlantic Lager, which I bought as my second beer for $8 for a bottle, and Heavy Seas Marzen, which is actually brewed much closer to the Orioles than the Nats. I also expecting a little more variety.

View from the seats, as seen through UnderDog

Seeing as it was now pushing first pitch, and I hadn’t eaten since lunch, I needed sustenance. I was given a tip to try out Ben’s Chili Bowl. Time for a bit of a history lesson. In 1958 Ben and Virginia Ali used $5,000 to begin renovating a building at 1213 U Street, Washington, District of Columbia. The building came to be in 1910, where it first was home to the silent movie house: Minnehaha Theater. It was later a pool hall until August 22, 1958, when Ben’s Chili Bowl was born. Back in those days, top performers could be found in the area, which was then known as “Black Broadway.” They claim to have had visitors the likes of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Redd Foxx, Dick Gregory, Martin Luther King Jr., Donny Hathaway, Roy Ayers,  and Bill Cosby, who actually courted his wife at “The Bowl.” That was enough for me! I grabbed a delicious Half Smoke Chili Dog, which is a Half pork and beef sausage with chili on the top. It has been a favorite of Cosby’s since the 1960’s.

That man has to have a heart problem.

Luckily this was my night as the Buccos came away with the win. I guzzled down a few Sierra Nevada Pale Ales before heading out, and considered the series a win for me–even if the Pirates only split the two game road trip.

This actually turned out to be an important at-bat

The beer selection. All beers are 16oz drafts unless otherwise noted. (Please also note, this list is not exhaustive and probably contains some errors):

$8.00 $8.25 $8.75 $9.00 $10.00
Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Bottle)
Coors Banquet Beer
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Dos Equis
Leinenkugel’s Home Run Ale
Miller Lite
Miller Genuine Draft
Sam Adams  SummerAle Amstel Light
Blue Moon
Blue Moon Seasonals
Coors Light (20oz)
Coors Banquet Beer (20oz)
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (20oz)
Dogfish Head India Brown Ale (20oz)
Heavy Seas Marzen
Miller Lite (20oz)
Miller Genuine Draft (20oz)
Sam Adams Boston Lager
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (20oz)
Ommegang Hennepin

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Written by Russ Beck

Russ can trace his beginnings in craft beer to sitting in Zeno’s Pub in State College drinking various craft beer options from across Pennsylvania. Since then, he has never faltered in finding new brews, whether they’re rare, delicious, or hopefully both. Russ will be writing on a large variety of subjects, including but not limited to: reviews, homebrewing, and how to take labels off of beer bottles. He’ll drink just about anything, but prefers a nice Stout, IPA, or Weizenbock. Find Russ Beck on Google Plus

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