The Orioles have done a lot over the last few years to try and re-acquaint themselves with the immediate city-community. They put Baltimore back on the road-jerseys, the Orioles Reach Program has been a very visible and effective force in the area and despite a bump in single-game ticket prices the team has really gone out of its way to keep prices affordable. Well now I am calling on the Birds and their new concessionaire to do one more thing – Bring back National Bohemian!
For those who are not from the immediate Baltimore area let me educate you for a second. National Beer was a local Baltimore brewing company that was owned for a time by then-Baltimore Orioles owner Jerry Hoffberger. Hoffberger, of course, served his beer in old Memorial Stadium Boh, and Mr. Boh, sort of became unofficial mascots of the city and the team. Boh was produced in Baltimore for decades until National was sold to a Canadian brewing company Carling in the 1973. Carling shut down prduction at the O’Donnell street brewery (which today is office-space and condos called Natty Boh towers in the aptly named Brewer’s Hill neighborhood of Baltimore) and moved production to the suburb of Halethorpe. Carling was bought out by Heileman brewing Company. The Boh name and recipes would change hands multiple times but in 2000, under the Stroh brewers banner, the Halethorpe brewery was shut down and Boh was no longer brewed in Maryland.
But the beer lives on. Though it is brewed in North Carolina now Boh and Mr. Boh are ubiquitous throughout the city. Now has Boh stood the test of time? Well, one it is a decent enough drink. Don’t get me wrong, Natty Boh is about as far from “gourmet” as one can get, but as far as cheap beer goes Boh is a fairly satisfying drink. Boh just IS Baltimore in a lot of respects. It didn’t hurt that the owner of the beer also owned the Orioles during their era of baseball dominance. Boh became synonymous with the city during those years and it is something that has endured.
The Orioles did bring Boh back for one glorious season a few years ago, but it did not take. It was only sold in one or two kiosks throughout the park and it was available only in cans. Due to the niche nature of the drink you could not get Natty Boh in kegs – until now. It has been announced that Pabst Brewers will be distributing Boh in kegs for the first time in more than a decade. A handful of local establishments will be getting the first run of kegs and celebrations will commence. It may sound silly but this is a big deal around here, my local establishment is one of the fortunate first few and on February 5th there will be a fairly large party to celebrate its return. Because of this development that is no reason I can think to not give this a shot. Bringing Boh back to Camden Yards would be another step in right direction to re-Baltimore-ify the Birds. And do it right this time! Actually promote it!
I lay a lot of that blame at the feet of the old concessionaire Aramark, a company that did not cause any sleepless nights when it left. The new concession company spent a couple weeks traveling through Baltimore attempting to get a “local feel” for the city and area as it prepared for the new season. Its representatives must have come across Baltimore’s cheapo refreshment of choice and now that distribution should is easier it should be done. really advertise it in the ballpark, imagine Mr.Boh’s smiling face on the scoreboard or on the outfield wall. why am I taking time to write about this? Well, its snowing/sleeting/raining outside and there really isn’t much else to write about and well, its important – kinda.
Baltimore prides itself on being a little different. We are, well, us and that cheap beer is us too. Mr. Boh adorns the skyline on the east-side of town; Mr. Boh’s smiling face is seen on shirts all over the city; it is time to see Mr. Boh’s smiling face back in Camden Yards.