Team: Miami Marlins
Ballpark Basics: A ballpark that is distinctly Miami (except in the beverage department).
As you approach Marlins Park it looks as if a large white spaceship landed in the residential Little Havana neighborhood. Built on the site of the former Orange Bowl the ballpark dwarfs all of the other buildings in the area. When the retractable roof is open (for the inside of the ballpark) it extends over the outside and offers shade for the sun before you enter the ballpark.
For a ballpark whose dominant exterior color is white once inside the park there is an explosion of color. Walking along the concourse the concession areas are outlined with a different colored tiles. While the new ownership has toned down some of the bright colors and removed the contentious home run sculpture from center field the ballpark still has a distinctly south Florida feel. This includes the fish tanks housed in the backstop, vibrant artwork throughout the concourse, the Clevelander offshoot, and even a DJ!
Best Spot For Beer: While the ballpark embraces the local culture and does a great job showcasing local culinary options, it falls short in the drink department. Most of the concession stands and beer carts cater to the big boys with Goose Island being the only thing close to craft. The Taste of Miami section in left field will give you your best bet for local options including Veza Sur Brewing Co., Concrete Beach Brewery and Biscayne Bay Brewing Co.
Another aspect that was missing was the park’s opportunity to observe the teams history or south Florida sports history as a whole. There was a small display that discussed the history of the Orange Bowl but not much else to recognize the history of the location or the team that has won two World Series. In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of the ballpark is the Bobblehead Hall of Fame, a celebration of the fan favorite give-away.
Marlins Park is a great ballpark to catch your team play, especially if you are not a Marlins fan. The team has alienated the majority of the fan base (even the “Marlins Man” was a free agent for the 2018 season) so you won’t be lost in a sea of Marlins fans. The park is welcoming to all home and away supporters, and the staff are some of the nicest we’ve encountered in the MLB considering they’re dealing with a lot of opposing fans. It’s sad to see a once-popular team struggle for so long. We hope soon the Marlins will be able to right the ship and we’ll start to see more local fans and packed houses.
Rating: Stealing third
Beer Basics: External factors give this brewery with hit or miss beers a lift.
In a very Terrapin Brewing/Atlanta Braves collaboration style, Nightlife brewing has scored itself a prime spot attached to Marlins Park. If you’ve been to the new Atlanta Braves ballpark you’ll know that you can access the Terrapin Brew Lab outside of game days and hours, and the same is true for Nightlife.
Done in an art deco style, you’ll find Nightlife housed under one of the parking garages. Inside they’ve got Untappd, streaming TV (basketball when we were there) and long wooden picnic tables. Outside the large windows is smaller seating area with less than a dozen tables; only some of which had umbrellas making the area hot, even in March. If the weather is great or you can get an umbrella table this area is prime for people watching and playing “spot a Marlin fan”. Harder to do than you’d guess at their home stadium.
Though busy, the bartenders were pretty cordial, and with “no standing around” signs along the bar, they are setup to handle large crowds that ebb and flow all at the same time; and they’ll even still do flights on game days. Nightlife doesn’t serve food, but is in sync with a local taco shop right around the corner so you can put your whole order all on one tab. It’s a good system to serve lots of people. We availed ourselves of the flight and were glad we did, as we found their beers to be hit or miss. We tasted:
Daring Brunette (7.0 ABV/34 IBU) A maple syrup colored beer with oaty malts and caramel notes. Though there was a ring of head when it was poured, it dissipated quickly and left no lacing. Smooth and just slightly sweet, this was the best beer on tap.
Spitfire Redhead (6.5 ABV/35 IBU) Carmel brown in color with lacing that lingers on the glass. The aroma is a sticky, strong rye. Palate-wise it has a sour note to start but it fades and becomes bready in the middle with a peppery finish. It was served too cold, and is better as it warmed up. If you let it sit a bit, it becomes a pretty decent rye beer.
Flight of Freedom (10.5 ABV/35 IBU) Flight to Freedom is listed as a golden strong ale. Though very smooth, we found this golden yellow beer to have more of a traditional Vienna lager type taste with the strongest notes coming from traditional German yeast that is also predominate in the palate. Only a vague sweetness hints at the high ABV of the strong ale.
Tobacco Road IPA (5.8 ABV/70 IBU) This IPA is brewed in the New England style and smells great, with all the hops and fruits a juice bomb should have, but it just doesn’t deliver. The taste is actually a quite bready and slightly sour with just a little hop burn and too much carbonation. Overall a recipe with promise that needs tweaking and balance.
1588 NW 7th Street
Miami, FL 33125