On a watercraft, you can nail ales to and from the game (if your buddy takes the helm) and there’s never a traffic jam. Sailgating—the boat version of pre-game tailgating—is making a splash from San Francisco Bay to Florida.
By Bob Cooper
On Giants game days, boats decked out in orange and black arrive at South Beach Harbor, where fans party until the anthem and still catch the first pitch because the 700-slip marina is right behind AT&T Park. From the stadium, sailgaters yell “ahoy!” to their scruffier boating brethren—kayakers who loiter in a cove behind right field for the chance at fishing out a rare “splash hit” home-run ball. Beer Aboard: Anchor Steam, beloved by locals, has been brewed here since 1871.
Proving their steely devotion to the Steelers, sailgaters begin tying up on the Allegheny River public wharf days before home games. That gets them a berth near Heinz Field, where they party on brats and brews until they can no longer pronounce “Monongahela,” one of three rivers that converge at the stadium. Sailgating to Pirates games at nearby PNC Park is also possible, but do it soon. Their last playoff appearance: 1992. Beer Aboard: Iron City Beer produced America’s first lager in 1861; locals ask for an “Ahrn.”
The St. Johns River delivers boating Jaguars fans to EverBank Field, which is always a pleasant excursion in Florida’s autumn sunshine. Even bigger flotillas invade Metropolitan Park Marina for the annual Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day and the 98-year- old Florida-Georgia game— a rivalry so huge that pre- game tailgating is dubbed “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” Beer Aboard: Grab cans of I-10 IPA from Jax’s own Intuition Ale Works.
The “Vol Navy” is the 200-boat game day armada that takes over downtown Knoxville’s Volunteer Landing Marina, just up the Tennessee River from the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium. The Vols have played in bowl games in six of the last 10 seasons, but last year’s one- win season in the SEC triggered a flood of tears into skippers’ beers. Beer Aboard: Pace through a bottle of Yazoo Sue, a cherrywood-smoked porter that was Tennessee’s first-ever high-ABV beer.