Thursday, July 10, 2008

Root, root, root for the hometown beer

I took in a Nationals game tonight. The game stunk, the Nats lost in 11 and the outfield scoreboard allowed me to watch my hometown Rays get slapped around by the Indians.
But I was drinking local beer (Hook & Ladder's Golden Ale and Backdraft Brown, to be specific) and eating Five Guys, so the night wasn't a complete loss. In fact, between the beer, the nice weather and the company of the missus, it was a pretty good evening.
Sure, there was Miller Lite, MGD and Bud at every turn. But the fact that I had a few local options, including Hook & Ladder, Fordham and Old Dominion, as well as a few other craft beers like Magic Hat, made it easier to ignore the bland big guys.
I really can't say enough about sports stadiums that allow local breweries through the turnstiles. I got spoiled living in North Carolina and catching Durham Bulls games every summer. The minor league stadium poured a selection of local beers and was across the street from one of the best beer bars I've even set foot in, Tyler's Taproom.
Unfortunately, that positive experience set me up for a huge disappointment: Raymond James Stadium. I love my Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I really, really do. I love to see them win and am often inconsolable when they lose (Seriously, I can't bring myself to watch Sportscenter for about a week.).
Last year, I finally went to my first home game at the relatively new stadium. At the time, I'd just moved from Chapel Hill back to D.C., so I was accustomed to having a few local beers while watching the local team. So when I discovered the only beers available in the Bucs' house were Budweiser, Bud Lite and other assorted Anheuser-Busch products, I was pissed.
No Ybor Gold? Nothing from the Dunedin Brewery? Not even Yuengling, which has a brewery in Tampa?
What the hell?!
I don't know, but I suspect Anheuser-Busch vetoed the inclusion of any competitors, big or small, in the stadium concessions. Rather than supporting a few local breweries, the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, acquiesced and turned over every tap to a mammoth brewery based in St. Louis, MO.
That experience was a one and done for me. The next game I went to a game, I tailgated in the shadow of Raymond James, and dined on lobster and Ybor Golds. That fantastic meal was all I needed for the next four hours. I spent nary a dollar once inside, saving myself at least $50, considering that stadium beers are running $8 and a burger can cost you nearly $10. Although the Bucs lost a meaningless contest, I left satisfied in the knowledge that I didn't reward the Glazers for barring local breweries from the game.
So raise a glass to the stadiums that pour local beers. They're worth rooting for as much as the teams on the field.

1 comment:

Joseph J M said...

Next time you are in Tampa check out Cigar City Brewing. It's not far from Raymond James Stadium. A block off Dale Mabry on Spruce Street: