The Nationals are proud of their beer program, and justifiably so. What started with a single “District Drafts” vendor cart in the 2013 season has blossomed into eight stands spread around the stadium serving local beer.
Each stand has four taps, and 30 of those 32 taps are dedicated to beers from six major local breweries: 3 Stars, Port City, DC Brau, Mad Fox, Old Ox, and Atlas Brew Works. The other two taps are reserved for a beer from one of four smaller-scale local breweries: Right Proper, Fair Winds, Heritage, and Hellbender. That selection also rotates by homestand. The mix of breweries varies by location, and which beer a brewery offers rotates with each homestand.
And that doesn’t count the dedicated concessions for beers from ex-micro breweries like Virginia’s Devil’s Backbone, Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing, or Chicago’s Goose Island. Or the beers sold at the gluten-free stand. Then there’s the usual assortment of macro-brews, along with the occasional Victory or Flying Dog.
This ever-changing variety makes it tough to say conclusively what to drink at Nats Park, but here’s a three-stop stadium beer crawl for fans who don’t mind leaving their seats in the name of a good brew.
Devil’s Backbone Left Field Lodge
They’ve sold out to Anheuser-Busch InBev and don’t quite have the same market recognition as some of the true locals. What they do have at Nats Park is an extensive selection of their seasonal beers, including a few that are generally only available at their pilot brewery in Virginia. The Left Field Lodge is one of several spots that sells Earned Run Ale (E.R.A.), introduced in partnership with the Nats this season. It achieves its stated goal of being easy-drinking on a hot summer day.
Their space up on the edge of the upper deck behind section 301 includes plenty of seating. If you grab the farthest picnic table from home plate, you’re rewarded with a terrific view straight down the third baseline.
Most of the Base Line Brews offer just what the name implies: a more
basic assortment of beers—your Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultras, an assortment of cans, and a wild-card or two.
The Base Line Brews at Section 317 is quietly home to one of a small number of taps of Atlas Brew Works’ 1500 Lager and DC Brau’s by-now-iconic The Public Ale, as well as cans of Omission gluten-free beer. The 1500 in particular is an easy-drinking session beer, perfect for baseball games even if it doesn’t have the E.R.A.’s “officially designed for the stadium” bone fides.
This pavilion offers quite a few standing tables and puts you high above home plate, with the entirety of the diamond spread out below you. It also offers a roof, in case your stadium beer tour is interrupted by inclement weather.
The porch next to Section 223 puts you on the first baseline in shallow right field. It also puts you right next to one of the two District Drafts stands with a rotating smaller-brewery tap. (The other is at Section 129.) At a recent test visit, the “extra” beer was a Hellbender Belgian Blonde, crisp and refreshing even if that yeasty, dry Belgian characteristic tastes weird in a plastic stadium cup.
There are several standing tables with a view of the game, and another on the opposite side with a genuinely lovely view of the river. There’s even an oversized novelty chair sponsored by a soft drink company that you could take over in a pinch.
Special mention also to the folks who staff the District Draft stands. They may not have waxed mustaches or tattoos of winged corkscrews, but they’re able to answer basic questions about each offering, which is pretty impressive given the size of the workforce and regular turnover of the taps.