Almost from the beginning, major league baseball and beer have gone hand in hand. Six years after the National League got its start, the flow of suds began in 1882 when the American Association initiated a ten-year challenge to the National League. Financed by brewers in St. Louis and Cincinnati, “the Beer and Whiskey League” sold beer at their nearby saloons and at the games.
The American Association failed, but beer and ballgames remained leisurely partners. The latest chapter in this aspect of the national pastime is the rise of craft breweries located near big league ballparks. Fans in Washington and San Francisco who love a good beer or two before or after a game are looking forward to the opening of a brewery located within a few blocks of their respective ballparks. In both cases, each of these sure-to-be popular establishments will set up shop in a restored historic building and will help spotlight a burgeoning part of their city, as well as a revitalized waterfront.
Nationals fans will get the first taste when “Bluejacket” (the name is a nod to sailors), rolls out its barrels this summer. The beer maker's home will be the Boilermaker Shops, situated about three blocks from Nationals Park. Last week The Washington Post wrote about Bluejacket’s approach to making craft beer, which will fall under six different types.
Featuring lots of glass and brick, the renovated two-story building lies in the heart of “The Yards” section of the Capital Riverfront neighborhood. It’s a foregone conclusion Bluejacket will become a popular Nats fans hangout before the game, and could very well remain the premier place for such activity.
Giants fans are excited about the news that Anchor Brewing will serve up their beer just south of their ballpark in the Pier 48 building. The brewer, a San Francisco treat since 1896, will become part of the Mission Rock (which honors the rock outcropping buried below Pier 50) redevelopment project just south of the Giants ballpark. Anchor is aiming for a 2015 opening. Plans include a beer museum.
In both cases, the breweries will tap into a tradition of the cities’ maritime heritage. Bluejacket sits about halfway between Nationals Park and the Navy Yard. In its heyday, the yard was the Navy’s largest shipbuilding and shipfitting facility. In addition to the Boilermaker Shop, workers toiled at the Lumber Shed, the Pattern-Joiner Shop and the Gun Assembly Building. All four of these have been adapted for re-use, and will help define the waterfront neighborhood one mile south of the Capitol.
At the Boilermaker Shops, Bluejacket will be joined by Nando’s Peri-Peri restaurant, Buzz, a popular bakery with two locations in Northern Virginia, and other eating establishments. The Pattern-Joiner Shop, just two blocks from Nationals Park, is now the 170-units Foundry Lofts, which includes Potbelly Sandwich and Kruba Thai and Sushi. The Lumber Shed, also two blocks from the ballpark and situated along the waterfront, will feature lots of glass and a variety of restaurants. The Gun Assembly Building, renamed Factory 202, will become a 271-unit condo.
The Capitol Riverfront neighborhood is about halfway through its 15-year build out, with 2,800 residents, 35,000 employees, 223,000 square foot of retail, and several parks already in place. Mixed-use projects are on tap for the block just north of the ballpark, and will likely include a watering hole or too. Until then, Bluejacket looks to rule the roost.
Mission Rock, unveiled last April, will become part of the growing Mission Bay neighborhood south of the Giants waterfront ballpark. If you’ve been to a Giants game, and wandered out past McCovey Cove, you stood where Mission Rock will rise up. Like Capitol Riverfront, it will feature waterfront parks and mixed use. The Giants, who are financing partners, are touting Mission Rock as the “heart-beat of Mission Bay.” Giants fans have plenty of options for beer-drinking, but most are on the north side of the ballpark.
Tailgating was a popular tradition at Candlestick Park, as well as RFK Stadium. Those days have given way to sipping at a watering hole near the ballpark. Bluejacket and Anchor will soon become part of this great new tradition.
Sir, permission to come aboard!