Dunkin’ Donuts Park
Team: Hartford Yard Goats
Affiliate: Colorado Rockies (AA)
Ballpark Basics: A ballpark well worth the wait.
The delays and lawsuits that plagued the construction of Dunkin’ Donuts Park have been well documented. After spending the entire 2016 season on the road the Yard Goats were happy to finally have a ballpark to call home. Dunkin’ Donuts Park is a perfect blend of an old school ballpark with all of the modern amenities you expect a new facility.
Shoehorned into a city block creates some unique aspects that are reminiscent of old ballparks that had to get creative with their space (think Fenway Park’s Green Monster). Instead of a large green wall there is netting in many places along the outfield wall to keep balls from causing damage from balls that could easily travel completely outside the park and onto the city streets.
Speaking of netting, the team has joined others with extending the safety netting down the baselines past each teams’ dugouts. However, they also included safety netting on the home run porch in right field. Not only would this stop a lucky fan from catching a home run ball but it was a distraction to try and watch the game through.
The ballpark itself is in what would be termed an “up and coming” part of Hartford, surrounded by surface parking lots, boarded up buildings and you need to cross I-84 to get to the main part of downtown. The aforementioned surface parking lots charge for parking but you can easily find some off street parking if you are comfortable leaving your car in an “up and coming” part of town.
Best Spot For Beer: Each concession stand had at least one craft beer on tap we weren’t too impressed with their offerings. That is until we reached Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ Pit tucked in the left field corner. This is definitely the spot that you want to hit if you are looking for a wide variety of local and craft beers. The Yard Goats have partnered with Thomas Hooker Brewing Co. for their own specialty brew, Nectar of the Goats IPA. However, it was not easily found in the ballpark so we did not have a chance to try it.
Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ is also one of the many areas where groups can get together to watch the game. A picnic areas runs the length behind the left field wall and the visitor’s bullpen (The Yard Goats bullpen is tucked underneath the stands in right field and gives them cover from the summer sun, or, like the night we were there, the rain. There are party decks on either end of the suite level that can be rented out. Also, drink rails sit behind the main seating bowl so you can stop and watch the game as you tour the park.
Dunkin’ Donuts Park was named the 2017 Double A Ballpark of the Year by Ballpark Digest and it is easy to see why. With a year of delays and lawsuits Hartford lucked out and received a ballpark that hopes to unite the city.
New Park Brewing
Brewery Basics: The first brewery in West Hartford, and one of the only “late” night options.
There were several breweries in Hartford, but they all close much earlier than we are used to in the Southeast. By the time we ran out and took advantage of a Yard Goats rain delay, the only one left open was New Park Brewing; where you are able to hang out till 10pm on a Saturday.
New Park was a different take on your typical brewery, and you notice it the minute you arrive. New Park makes up one the largest chunks of an upcycled building that has found a second life housing an eclectic collection of shops and studios. If you’ve checked out our post on Colorado Springs, you’re familiar with this type of building.
Bare Edison bulbs, white walls warm wood, a large wood bar and a chalkboard tap list give New Park a shiplapped, cottage-chic feel. The prices are a little on the high end as well, but don’t let this upscale feel give you the wrong impression. Every employee we talked to was engaging and friendly, helped point us in the direction of their current on tap favorites, and didn’t mind when we abruptly ran back to Dunkin Donuts Park when the rain delay was lifted. We were able to hang out long enough to try four of their draughts:
Calyx IPA (6.2 ABV) All four of our beers came out roughly the same golden yellow color. This one smelled oaty and hoppy like Honey Nut Cheerios (dry and sweet). Though it had a decently hopped aroma, the flavor was thin and the palate remained light throughout. This was our least favorite of the pours.
Warbler (6.0 ABV) The Warbler was the most unique beer on tap that night, as it is listed as a lime zest saison. The lime is notable in the sour aroma, but the flavor is light, and most reminiscent of a gin and tonic with a twist. We suggest letting this one warm up a bit, as the lime and herbs become more pronounced as it sits.
Hopiary Double IPA (8.0 ABV) Smells floral and honeyed, and again pours the same golden color as the other beers. A sweetly balanced palate that is not overly sweet or hopped. Complex and delicious.
Canopy APA (5.9 ABV) Smells floral and hop solid, with a well balanced bouquet. The color is the same as aforementioned, but with an added haziness the others don’t have. Light lacing and moderate carbonation add to the mouthfeel of this hop forward beer.
485 New Park Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06110