Jerry Hoffberger at one time owned both the Baltimore Orioles and National Brewing Co., cementing the ties between the sport and the beverage in the region.
Even the people answering the Orioles’ toll free number have gotten the message. “By the way? The Rick’s Red Ale? It’s delicious. Just thought I’d throw that in,” a club employee said of a Dempsey offering, after listing the local beers served at the ballpark.
The Orioles, like the Nats this year, are experiencing their own resurgence on the field. The two teams square off at Camden Yards this weekend in interleague play.
Alas, one place baseball-loving beer drinkers won’t be finding DC Brau and Chocolate City, at least in the short run, is Nationals Park.
“All of the taps at the park are owned by Premium Distributors. Since we’re not with Premium, we can’t be distributed at the ballpark,” Skall said. DC Brau is distributed by Hop and Wine Beverage.
He added that he appreciated petition efforts by fans to ask the Nationals to stock DC Brau, but that it’s not going anywhere unless they sign with Premium or something else changes.
“The ballpark is kind of a dead issue,” he said, somewhat resigned. “It’s out of our control. It’s out of the consumers’ control, and it’s out of the park’s control, because they don’t own their own taps,” he said.
Irizarry isn’t optimistic that Chocolate City will be poured at Nationals Park anytime soon, either. “The corporate ladder is a little different than privately owned places. We have not made that move … Premium is a beast. And we’re a self-distributing brewer,” he said.
One thing Skall is supremely positive about is his company’s place at the forefront of manufacturing in Washington, a city heavy on services and light on industry.
“We love it. We love it. There’s hardly any manufacturing that occurs in the District of Columbia. Being ... kind of the voice of small-business manufacturing in Washington, D.C., is pretty cool,” he said.
And Irizarry has a message for the neighbor to the north, the city of Germanic and blue-collar heritage that has proved so conducive to beer culture.
For him there is more to Washington than wine-swilling politicians and antique cocktail concocting hipsters. When asked if Washington is a beer-drinking town, he bellowed out, “Hell, yeah! … Take that, Baltimore!”