Team: Hagerstown Suns
Affiliate: Washington Nationals (A)
Ballpark Basics: A classic ballpark where baseball takes center stage.
Ballpark Breakdown: Growing up in Northern Virginia, Jim had taken the trip up 270 to see a handful of Suns games a few times before. However after news that the team was looking to move to a new ballpark in Fredericksburg, Virginia Jim made it a point to get Gillian to this classic ballpark. It was our first stop on our annual July 4th trip in 2014.
Opened in 1930, Municipal Stadium is one of the oldest Minor League ballparks still in use. Taking in a game at Municipal Stadium is like getting in a time machine and watching a game before ballparks became amusement parks with a baseball game in the background. There is a small kids area behind the grandstand but that is about the only thing that distracts from the game.
Speaking of the grandstand; it is a glorious classic grandstand. The seating area is simply laid out. There is seating with seatbacks that ring the infield and then continue behind home plate under the covered grandstand. Two large sets of bleachers extend down each baseline. There is a small section of standing room seats behind the home dugout on the first base side. A group of regulars set up camp here with blankets and food.
The first thing you notice is about Municipal Stadium is the lack of noise…and this is on purpose. The Suns have minimal music and announcements throughout the game. The focus is on the game. You can hear the crack of the bat, to ball pop into the glove, the players calling to each other and even the fans on the opposite side of the ballpark heckling the players.
The stadium really plays up its history as well with plaques placed throughout the stadium highlighting important moments throughout its history (Willie Mays played his first professional game here, Jim Palmer spent a week here, Negro League teams played here). They even have a hand operated scoreboard in left field.
A great addition is the Beer Garden in left field corner. Here you will find the tradition big boys as well as Yuengling and a couple of options from the local brewery, Antietam Brewing. Added for the 2015 season is an exclusive brew for the Suns developed by Antietam.
Honestly, if you find yourself in the DC or Baltimore area you owe it to yourself to try and catch a game at Municipal Stadium you had better do it quickly. The Suns are attempting to get a new stadium in either Hagerstown or Fredericksburg, VA.
Brew Basics: A pioneer in their town, C for atmosphere A- for beer
Antietam Brewery runs out of Benny’s Pub which is an eclectic place that is biker bar meets strip mall. It’s one of those places where you’re pretty sure all of the patrons are regular smokers. A concrete floor runs the length of the place, which is divided into two rooms and separated by a step that’s painted with yellow and black warning stripes. The bar is in the first room and is decorated with Austin Powers dolls, trophies and a lot of Packers gear. By way of seating you’ve got red lacquered bar tops and black seats. Two bricked in tanks are part of this area as well, but the main brew works is found in a third room offset to the side of the other two. Back in the main bar area, you’ve got traditional bar entertainment options including a Touchtone jukebox and 6 tvs, one of which was set to display only ads. There are Jager shots and a Svedka Crush station mized in amonth the copper topped stainless brew kettles and enough pub food to happily fill up your fried quota and lay down a good base, which you’ll want because there are a lot of on tap options to try.
Generals Golden Ale (5.5 ABV / 18 IBU) Clear golden color that’s very light but still definitely yellow. Carbonated and lacy with a flavor that is wheaty without being thick to start with a nice hop finish. Served very cold which makes this a good refresher.
Hager-Weiss Hefe (5.3 ABV/18 IBU) a color like frosted lemonade, opaque and neon yellow. There is a hint of clove throughout this Hefe, but the very banana hop aroma overpowers any other scent but in the palate the banana comes through only in the aftertaste.
Otto’s Orchard Raspberry Ale (6.5 ABV/15 IBU) Part of their “Otto’s Orchard” fruit series that (appropriately) pours a color similar to raspberry iced tea. This ale is nice and sweet in the center with identifiable but not too strong raspberry that actually tastes like real fruit and not syrup or chemicals. Yum.
1605 Red Irish Style Ale (5.0 ABV/20 IBU) Root beer color with no head or lacing. Not a ton of aroma so we weren’t expecting a lot, but it has a decent nutty flavor with just a hint of smoke.
Lil’ Bens Milk Stout (5.0 ABV/18 IBU) The smell is light but what’s there is smoky coffee malts, and there is more smoke than coffee in the taste. Just a little bit of lacing on this dark brown beer.
Kelly’s Red River IRA (7.5 ABV/75 IBU) The IRA stands for Indian Red Ale and it’s hard to quantify. Dark and thin like a porter, but there a five different hops styles in the reciped. The palate starts with a tart front that rolls to hops and then a citrus finish and a hoppy aftertaste. Complex with the bitter hops of an IPA and smooth malts of a red and carbonation you can taste but not see.
Reluctance Double IPA Dark golden IPA color with lasting white head and visible carbonation. Smells hoppy and spicy and is a little thicker than a typical lager. The Reluctance is a decent palate wrecker with strong hops and a dull (blunt, not boring) end.
49 Eastern Blvd N
Hagerstown, MD 21740