One of my favorite Spring and Summer activities is going to a baseball game. I am lucky to live in an area where two Major League ballparks are within an hour of each other: Nationals Park, and Orioles Park at Camden Yards. My husband and I are Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals fans, respectively. Rivalry aside, I love visiting each park at least a few times during the summer. But with Nationals Park a) being closer, and b) being the home of my chosen team, it is the stadium I visit most frequently between April and September.
Nationals Park is in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Ever since the park was built, the neighborhood around it has grown immensely. Close to the stadium, you have Yards Park, home to many restaurants and bars. The most notable is Bluejacket, a brewpub and restaurant that brews some of the finest beers in the District. Their tap list is ever-changing, and they specialize in a variety of styles, most notably sour ales, saisons, and stouts. I love their Mexican Radio Stout, especially on cask; and Inkwell, a stout I had once two years ago and am still waiting to return. Come back, Inkwell – I miss you! Bluejacket is a great place to grab some sips or a pint before or after the game, but note that it’s very popular on game days – the bar is usually packed, and reservations fill up days beforehand. Be prepared!
Beer before and after the game is all well and good, but let’s be real – beer during the game is where it’s at. Fortunately, Nats Park has you covered. There is a wide variety of beers big and small, local and international.
Nats Park recently partnered with Anheuser Busch, so naturally, Budweiser is everywhere to be found. Macro beer was never a stranger to the stadium, but returning to the park for the 2016 season brought its fair share of changes. The Red Porch, a fieldside bar and restaurant, became the Budweiser Brew House (it’ll always be Red Porch in my mind). Much like the Verizon Center, craft brands owned by Anheuser Busch also make more appearances, with Goose Island having its own stands, and Blue Point Brewing appearing on various tap lines.
Unlike the Verizon Center, though, Nats Park has maintained the presence of local beers in spite of the new partnership – and has even increased it. Two years ago, Nats Park introduced District Drafts, a stand that was devoted solely to beer from the immediate DC/MD/VA area. It was initially one stand on the 100 level, but proved so popular that it has expanded to multiple stands scattered across all three levels of the stadium. The breweries typically found at District Drafts are DC Brau, 3 Stars, Atlas Brew Works, Mad Fox Brewing Company, and Port City Brewing. This year, the taps have been expanded to include Old Ox Brewing and Heritage Brewing (also found at Verizon Center). I always visit District Drafts when I go to a game, as I must have a local beer to cheer on the local team. I’m very happy that Nats Park is committed to showcasing local breweries.
You can also find local brews in cans served seatside (Flying Dog’s Snake Dog IPA is sold alongside cans of Budweiser and Goose Island IPA) and on the taps at the hot dog and burger stands. The most notable offering at these spots is Atlas Brew Work’s 1500 South Cap Lager, a beer brewed especially for Nationals Park (1500 South Cap is the stadium’s address). The beer itself is very refreshing, and I try to get at least one pint during the season.
Nats Park itself is a great stadium to visit, with excellent views of the field from every corner, fun between-inning activities like the Racing Presidents, and really delicious food. I must take a moment to praise Field of Greens, a food stand that is 100% vegetarian. Sports venues are usually a crapshoot for vegetarian options, and having a whole stand offering items like vegetarian buffalo chik’n wraps is very special. The park is also right near the Anacostia River, giving a wonderful view of the water as you walk up and down levels. You can also see the Capitol building from your seats if you’re sitting high up.
I look forward to another great season of Nationals baseball and delicious baseball brews. Stay tuned for an overview of my other stadium of choice, Orioles Park at Camden Yards.