Approaching a concession stand at Nationals Park this season and asking for a Miller Lite is like walking into the Nationals team store and asking to be directed to the section of Mets gear. It’s a clown question, bro.
Before the Nationals’ most recent home game last Thursday, I walked around to every concession stand in the park, including the club level, in search of Miller Lite. My journey — dedication to my craft, as my editor put it — was prompted by several emails and tweets from concerned fans who reported that they couldn’t find MillerCoors products anywhere during the team’s first homestand. I’ve joked about it before, but I think it’s possible fans have stronger feelings about the Nationals switching from MillerCoors to Anheuser-Busch as its beer sponsor during the offseason than Jonathan Papelbon being on the roster.
Nationals chief revenue and marketing officer Valerie Camillo explained in March that the partnership was exclusive from a marketing perspective; while Anheuser-Busch was the only beer company permitted to advertise in Nationals Park, non-Anheuser-Busch beer products, including local craft beers, could — and would — continue to be sold. A spokesperson for Levy Restaurants, which handles the pour rights for the team and determines the allocation of beer at Nationals Park, said that the non-Anheuser-Busch offerings would include MillerCoors products.
My scavenger hunt included nearly 100 stops and a lot of head shakes from concession stand workers who have gotten used to fielding questions about Miller Lite over the first week of the season.
“People are confused because we had Miller last year,” an employee at the Captain’s Cove bar along the first base concourse told me.
“There’s no Miller anywhere in the park,” an employee at Base Line Brews beyond Section 108 said.
As I checked stand after stand off on the ‘Concessions Guide’ page of the Nationals’ free game program, I was inclined to believe her. Then, at the Shawafel stand on the main course in left field, between Section 106 and the Lot B parking garage, I saw it — a single, white Miller Lite tap, shining so brightly that the orange slice on the adjacent Shock Top tap handle needed sunglasses. Haute Dogs & Fries, which is located next to Shawafel in the space previously occupied by Hard Times Cafe, also had Miller Lite on draft. I ordered one, just to make sure it was real, and half-expected to be charged the extra dollar for a ‘Premium Beer’ (I wasn’t) given that it’s impossible to find anywhere else in the park. It was most definitely beer, but I can’t say with 100 percent confidence that it was Miller Lite, as I’m not sure I can tell the difference between Miller and Bud.
Shawafel and Haute Dogs & Fries were the only two places — out of nearly 100 stands that sell beer — where I found Miller Lite. (Update: A reader emailed on Sunday to report that he found Miller Lite on draft at the ‘Nats Dogs’ concession stand behind Section 310.) Coors Light was nowhere to be found. Two vendors who lug ice-cold bottles of beer up and down the aisles during the game told me that MillerCoors products are no longer part of their inventory this season. Levy Restaurants did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether there are plans for Miller Lite — or any other MillerCoors products — to be offered elsewhere in the park.