Draft Beer at Camden Yards

June 10, 2009

Originally published on Examiner.com

It was draft night at Camden Yards on Tuesday.  To celebrate, Ravens Examiner Tony Wisniewski and I spent the homestand opener indulging in the finest drafts available at Oriole Park.
And when it comes to drafts, we made sure we covered all of the bases.

Fans are still able to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages into Camden Yards, a perk that former O Brady Anderson was quick to point out when he came out of hiding to defend Peter Angelos in the pages of The Sun last week. 

And by hiding I mean roller blading in Malibu.

Anderson is correct in noting the rarity and potential value to fans that the right to carry in food brings to OPACY.  Of course, not since 1985 have Orioles fans been permitted to bring their own beer to the stadium.  Superfan “Wild” Bill Hagy famously responded to the outside alcohol ban by throwing his cooler onto the field and walking out of Memorial Stadium, never to be seen on 33th St or at Camden Yards, ever again.

In a nod to Baltimore tradition, Camden Yards does sell Hagy’s beloved Natural Bohemian, though it goes for a very modern price of $6.00 a can.

Along with the formerly local Natty, Camden Yards also sells the standard national “lite” brews that can be found in any ballpark in the country.  Coors, Miller, and Bud are available for $5.75 a draft at a 2 drink per person per purchase maximum.

Because the way to curb binge drinking is to prevent people from triple fisting it.  Surely, we’ve all heard some shirtless frat boy telling his buddy, “gee, I  would like to drink a lot during this game.  If only I could buy 10 beers from the vendor all at once instead of waiting until I’ve finished 2 before buying 2 more cold ones.  I mean, this guy only comes around with a gigantic box of beer for sale every 2 and a half minutes.  How am I supposed to get my buzz on!”

But when I go to The Yard, I often choose the beer path less traveled.  Microbrews such as Baltimore’s Clipper City are for sale at stationary vendors all over Camden Yards.  The brews are priced at only $1 more than their mass-produced, widely available counterparts, so why opt for a watery Coors Light when one can enjoy a locally crafted Old Scratch Amber?

The answer, I suppose, is that “cheap” beer and sporting events go hand and hand, and while the cheaply made Coors and Buds are no longer by definition cheap, they are considered central to baseball spectatorship.  The idyllic baseball viewing experience includes hot dogs, peanuts, and Bud, not hot dogs, peanuts, and Loose Cannon, which is a shame because I would prefer the latter.

Think about it.  Microbrewed beer comes in either a bottle or draft, and since Camden Yards does not sell glass bottles, microbrews can only be sold at beer stands and not by the mobile beer salespeople who circle every section of the park.

You can’t toss a buddy a draft beer and you’ll have to get up to buy one (or two, but no more than two…at a time).

But let me encourage you to make every night at Camden Yards draft night.  Take the extra few steps to the vendors at specially labeled “Microbrew of Maryland”  stands.   Get yourself a Copperhead Lager, Clipper City Gold Ale or Wild Goose IPA instead of a Bud or Miller.  They’re nearly the same price and since prices in the stadium are ridiculous all around, why not keep your cup filled with the good stuff?

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