Why don’t more local breweries sell Nationals T-shirts?

The Burley Oak Brewery in Berlin, Md., sold Orioles-themed "limited edition" T-shirts in 2013. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)
The Burley Oak Brewery in Berlin, Md., sold Orioles-themed "limited edition" T-shirts in 2013. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

If you go to an Orioles game, you'll notice that many people are wearing black, orange and white gear that advertises a local beer instead of the local baseball team.

Flying Dog currently sells white shirts with an orange script Flying Dog logo across the front and a Maryland flag patch on the sleeve. (It's marketed as the Home Team Tee.) Heavy Seas markets an orange T-shirt with the brewery's name in script on the chest and Cal Ripken's famous number 8 on the back. One Burley Oak shirt replaced the  O in "Oak" with a script O from the Orioles logo. A baseball-themed shirt for Duclaw's Hellraiser IPA uses the same O in the phrase "O Hell Yeah."

Brewer's Art Ozzy Hat
These Orioles-themed Brewer's Art caps will be collector's items now that the Baltimore brewpub had to change the name of its Ozzy Ale. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

Brewer's Art went a step further, selling black, white and orange ballcaps with the logo for its Ozzy beer in place of the famous bird.

(This list doesn't include the ubiquitous orange-and-black Natty Boh baseball shirts, since it's no longer a Maryland brewery. But we do love those 16-ounce Orioles-colored cans.)

Gear that combines beer and baseball hasn't caught on in Washington yet, even though DMV beers are wildly popular at Nationals Park, and there have to be plenty of people who'd love to wear Nationals-themed gear to games without splashing out $99.99 for a replica jersey, or $34.99 for the "authentic font personalized T-shirt."

DC Brau used to sell a t-shirt that swapped the brewery's name for the word "Nationals" in the team's Fuddruckers-esque mid-2000s logo, but DC Brau's Brandon Skall says the brewery stopping printing them "a while ago," due to worries about copyright infringement. "I would love to reprint those shirts, but I don't want to step on any toes," he says.

One possibility might be just selling red-and-white DC Brau shirts, which are already available, but this just highlights how indistinct the Nationals' color palette is: A red-and-white T-shirt could be worn by someone rooting for the Cardinals, Reds or Red Sox. When DC Brau made dark burgundy shirts with large gold brewery logos on them, it was obvious which team you were surreptitiously supporting. And when you see someone wearing an orange-and-black shirt, it's pretty obvious which team they love.

Things may be changing in the near future, though. Now that Flying Dog is all over Nationals Park and participating in Firkin Friday nights, the Frederick brewery may add a second "home team" shirt. "There has been discussion of it," says Flying Dog director of communications Erin Weston. "We definitely want to get those up there," though there's no timetable yet.

Atlas Brew Works created a lager called 1500 South Cap that's exclusively sold at the stadium. Founder Justin Cox said the beer's distinctive red-and-white logo might yet wind up on merchandise. "I know MLB is protective of copyrights – that's why we didn't call it Natitude Lager or something like that," he said. "But [the beer's logo is in] Nationals colors, so we might do something down the road."

Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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