O.co Ballpark Beer Review

Eno Sarris, July 30, 2013

You can catch a great game in Oakland. As the New Pornographers put it, things can get "magical out from blown speakers." The ballpark is a 70's monstrosity devoid of good views from the concourse, full of food that doesn't quite tickle anyone's fancy, but the fans that do come are passionate, and the team is good.

The beer? It's available.

The Cell gave us some high notes -- Bell's Oberon and Half Acre Daisy Cutter -- that appeared in three spots in the park. o.co, on the other hand, has readily available beer everywhere along the concourse, and it's not all Big Beer. But the high notes aren't quite there.

One thing that Oakland does for us is eliminate the need for a MS Paint beer map. Their photoshoppers are better than mine:

You can see how ubiquitous the beer is. You might also notice the lack of a destination beer. Lagunitas IPA (4.94 BAR), available near 120 and 207, might be the high note. On my visit, the Pyramid booth near 112 had Weiss Cream (-2.74 BAR) on nitro. Rare, not popular (and I went back later to make sure it wasn't good, and it wasn't -- all creamy smoothness up front, absolutely no body or taste). So the top end is not up there with San Diego, San Francisco, or even The Cell. Given some of the Brooklyn options at CitiField, the top end might even be better at some ballparks with worse overall ratings.

On the other hand, you're not more than a section or two away from the following at any given time, at least on the 100 level (a level that's cheaper in Oakland than in most places):

  • Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale (1.91 BAR)
  • Goose Island Honker's Ale (0.8 BAR)
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.06 BAR)
  • Sierra Nevada Summerfest (3.17 BAR)
  • Red Hook Long Hammer (-1.22 BAR)
  • Pyramid Outburst IPA (-2.3 BAR)
  • Guinness Draught (9.68 BAR)
  • New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale (4.36 BAR)
  • New Belgium Ranger IPA (2.59 BAR)
  • Widmer Alchemy Ale (2.09 BAR)
  • Widmer Hefeweizen (0.5 BAR)
  • Franziskaner (5.18 BAR) (hidden in the Goose Island booth by 131)
  • Kona Longboard (3.83 BAR)
  • Kona Big Wave (2.5 BAR)
  • Trumer Pils (2.13 BAR)
  • Anchor Steam (2.39 BAR)

Again, there's not a destination beer on there. But if you've been to Dodger Stadium, you know it gets much worse.

On the other hand, craft beer lovers will travel far and wide to get what they want. So maybe the top end is more important than the availability. If they had Heady Topper in one stand at the top of the bleachers, a good portion of our readership might be happy, even with the aching legs. Some would consider Lagunitas IPA such a destination beer, but probably not if they lived in California.

So, despite the different shape of the offerings at o.co and the Cell, we'll give them similar grades. If the Daisy Cutter was available at the Cell, I might have pumped the number up to the mid-80s. If the destination beer at o.Co was above zero BAR, they might deserve to be up in the mid-80s.

As it is, we have another park, in the middle of the pack.

o.co, Oakland, California: 81/100

Top Beers: Guinness Draught (10 BAR),  Franziskaner (5 BAR), Lagunitas Pale Ale (5 BAR)
Excellent Stands: 14
Price: Average