Beer is worth traveling for. Most times its to your nearest bar with crafts on tap, but many times its to your nearest beer festival with brewers plying their wares.
Some times it’s worth traveling to a ballpark for a non-baseball-reason. Not all of the ballparks boast only mass-brewed urine waters. Your rare stadium makes beer a priority and features suds worthy of a pilgrimage.
San Diego’s PetCo Park is just one such stadium.
Perhaps there’s no better way of communicating PetCo’s beer prowess other than this analogy: The Budweiser of PetCo is Stone IPA. Yes, that’s citrus and pine with a dry finish instead of aroma-less alcoholic soda water with a dead finish. And every second tap in this ballpark offers the local Stone products, rated among the very best in American crafts.
But there’s another way to describe the heights that the beer selection at PetCo reaches. Try Neil the Beerman, who serves the brews at the Brickhouse Deli, the only concessions stand inside the Western Metal Supply Co. Building that stands in left field. Neil tweets about his beers, and they are worthy. Here are the 32 bottled beers that are available at his modest stand:
Tijuana Brewing Co Guera (bohemian pilsner)
Tijuana Brewing Co. Bufadora (bock style)
Ballast Point Big Eye IPA
Ballast Point Calico Amber
Green Flash West Coast IPA
Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Lucky Budda (Chinese Lager)
Guiness Black Lager
St. Paulie Girl
Woodchuck Pear Cider
Yeah. It may not be the top 32 beers of all time, but it’s quite the list. Green Flash West Coast IPA is a top-three IPA according to this humble IPA lover. Perhaps only Firestone Double Jack IPA is a clear win over the Flash. My wife had the Lucky Buddha, but it was a let down, as the beer tasted like a bad version of Tsingtao. And as much as I love Ballast Point, their Sculpin IPA is the best offering from that brewery.
No matter. There were plenty of other options when we returned to visit Neil again. And again. And again. The high notes at this concession stand were well worth any walk around the stadium.
If you do find yourself on the other side of the stadium, however, fret not. In section 105 you’ll find the following beers on tap:
Coronado Brewing Co. Islander IPA
Coronado Orange Ave Wit
Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale
Ballast Point Wahoo Wheat
Knee Deep Immigration Red Ale
Knee Deep Beautiful Blonde Ale
The Coronado is a highly drinkable IPA, featuring orange and mint as the main accents. If it’s a little sweet in the middle, that’s a flaw that works fine at a ballpark along with salty, salty snacks.
The rest? Well, I’ll need to get back to PetCo to taste them all. And that might really be the most impressive aspect of the beer offerings at PetCo Park. If the whole region is worth visiting for the plethora of craft beer breweries (and the weather!), PetCo has proven itself a worthy destination on its own for sudsy sightseeing. Oh, and tell Neil that Eno sent you and he might just autograph a card of his for you.
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.