Pinball and Pints Pours in Fans

Photo by L.D. Freeman    Elisa and Ben Holt of Alameda combine to flip and sip during Bay Area Beer Week at the Pacific Pinball Museum's "Pinball and Pints.” The event offered a fine brew of two American cultural mainstays. Elisa had Ben on the ropes until his last ball on cowboy-themed “Buckaroo.”

Alameda’s Pacific Pinball Museum (PPM) tapped into beer week Sunday, Feb. 11, as an outpouring of beer and pinball enthusiasts packed the venue for a five-hour fun fest. Ten Bay Area brewers provided scores of pours at the exclusive event for more than 100 visitors who got to test their skills on the near 100 vintage games the museum sports.

This marked PPM’s third foray into hosting a party where the silver ball meets the golden pour. The event is a brew of two histories, drawing on pinball’s early foothold in bars and beer halls and today’s microbrew surge, according to d’Arci Bruno, PPM’s Interim Executive Director.

“The two grew together like cousins in the old days,” she said. “Now, craft beer is so popular in the maker movement and we’re here to bring that time of simple fun back,”

Ale Industries brewmaster of Oakland, Joseph Gudino says that the historical kinship traces to “the values and welfare of the common man. The history of beer and the history of pinball coalesce into a kindred story.”

As to whether beer consumption actually helps or hinders one’s play, Alamedan Elisa Holt said, “I don’t know if beer makes any difference in my game,” whereas her husband, Ben said, “I can’t get any worse” just before he narrowly beat her 647 to 589 on the classic 1965 rodeo-themed game “Buckaroo.”

For discriminating beer fans, the fest was a haven where you can “get some beer you can’t find anywhere else,” according to Jason Beck, a home brewer at Mercurius brewing, a homegrown company in the works of going commercial.

Among the diverse, scintillating offerings was a truly out-of-the-box creation. Dr. Hops brewing offered two, crisp, fruity Kombucha beers, blending organic, health-food focused ingredients normally sold as alcohol-free libations. This creation may portend a whole new trend in the world of microbrews.

Alameda Island Brewing Company was the sole hometown enterprise pulling taps at the fund raiser, accompanying a host of others hailing from San Francisco, San Leandro, Oakland, Fairfax and Belmont.