Attention beer lovers! On Saturday, March 19, OC Soccer Club will be partnering with Brew Ha Ha Productions to host its first Beer Fest of the year at the Great Park. Tickets also include admission to the home season opener, so whether you’re interested in the game or the beer, come for one, and stay for both. Irvine Weekly recently had a conversation with OC Soccer Club’s president of business operations, Jeff Garner, who was excited to spread the news about both the high level of sports entertainment and the various attractions that the club will be presenting this year.

Garner pointed out, “We are not just a soccer club. If you love soccer and you want a high level of soccer, fantastic, we have that. But even if you’re not a huge soccer fan and you want to come out and have a great affordable night out, spend quality time with your family – maybe you bring your colleagues out or your neighborhood out – I think we provide an entertainment value that is easy in and out. There’s not a lot of heavy traffic. It’s a fairly small venue, about 5,000 seats. It’s free parking. It’s centrally located in Irvine, so it’s easy to get to. We have affordable pricing; our general admission tickets start as low as $9.99. We have family four-packs, we have flex plans; so we have all kinds of different ways to experience these different events.”

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Mar 12, 2022; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; Orange County SC midfielder Seth Casiple (8) controls the ball in the first half against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Weidner Field. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing/Switchbacks FC

The soccer club has been organizing beer fests since 2019, just before Garner came on board. He recalled the origin of the event: “I think it grew from the love of beer of our owner, James Keston, who enjoyed going to craft beer festivals and tastings. And since then it has grown to the point that this year we will do another three beer fests [including this one]. We had three last year as well. So it grew from one the first year and we’ve added on as demand has increased. We typically have anywhere from 20 to 25 breweries involved, and usually, it’s about 40 to 50 different flavors and tastings available at any one beer fest. And there’s a little bit of mixing and matching. We have some of the same breweries come back, but obviously, some beers are seasonal. And so, the beer that a brewery may bring in March or may bring in May is different than the one that they may bring on September 10th as we get into the fall.”

Some of the confirmed breweries for this weekend’s event include Tap Truc OC, Station Craft Brewery and Kitchen, Four Sons Brewing, Rad Beer Co., Phantom Ales Brewery & Tavern, All American Brew Works, The Bruery & Offshoot Beer Co., Deschutes Brewery, Booze Brothers Brewing Co., Left Coast Brewing Co., Noble Ale Works, Stone Brewing Co., Beachwood Brewing, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Devine Science Brewing, 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Radiant Beer Co., and more to be announced. 

Photo courtesy of OCSC

The game will feature Orange County SC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC, and the Beer Fest will overlap with the game. Garner explained, “Beer Fest takes [place in] our fan zone, which is typically open to everybody who has a ticket to the game. It actually closes that off to 21 and above.” He also explained that there is music to entertain folks in the fan zone. “Sometimes that’s live music, sometimes that’s a DJ… [and the fan zone] overlooks the field. So a lot of times while people are doing their tastings, they can actually watch warmups, and then it runs through halftime. So in most cases, a lot of the Beer Fest crowd tends to migrate towards the field and you get to stand right along the end line almost, slightly elevated, so it’s a good vantage point, and watch the game. And then we sort of wrap up at the end of halftime. And then that crowd usually comes over to our supporters group, which [features] chanting and drums, and a lot of fun cheering on the team. We usually have a great atmosphere in the second half. The somewhere between 800 and a thousand people at Beer Fest tend to migrate over into the stadium, and it adds onto the atmosphere for the second half of the game.”

Naturally, Garner wanted to make sure Irvine Weekly readers knew what a great local team they have. “The players we have on the field are world class. We have young players coming up through the system that may go on to Europe or the MLS or professional soccer in Mexico. We also have players that have already played in those leagues and are maybe at the tail end of their career and are maybe thinking about getting into coaching or want to work with some of the young kids. So we definitely have a high level of soccer, but if you don’t know anything about soccer and you’re not necessarily there for the game, we provide an affordable family entertainment option. And so come out, it’s a two to three hour experience. We’ve got stuff for the kids. We’ve got stuff for the parents. For the kids, we’ve got things like our kids carnivals, and we basically have a little bit different experience outside of the lines at every single home game.”

In addition to the beer fests, other OCSC attractions this year will include a Friday night concert series, called the Footloose Fridays concert series. That series begins April 15 with the Aquabats. On May 7, the Sweet and Tender Hooligans will perform with opening acts, and while the June 25 line-up is yet to be announced, Garner said that it will probably be an 80’s theme night with well-known 80’s bands performing. In October, OCSC will also be hosting a Scottish festival, featuring Scottish foods, Scottish entertainment, Scottish dancers, Scottish bands, and even a limited series of Scottish athletic competitions.

For all of the events, OCSC splits the proceeds with a charitable organization. This weekend’s events will benefit the Ronald McDonald House, which is dedicated to supporting families with sick children in their time of need. Other charities that have benefitted from event patronage have included Big Brothers Big Sisters, a mentoring network; and Power of One Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting hunger and homelessness around the world. 

OCSC’s games and events certainly span the spectrum of family entertainment. Their events cater to many tastes, benefit charities, and are a bargain to boot. Speaking of which, for those interested in attending the game / Beer Fest this weekend, OCSC offers a discounted designated driver ticket.

The Beer Fest and Season Opener will be held at 8272 Great Park Blvd, Championship Soccer Stadium at the Orange County Great Park, in Irvine. For more info regarding OCSC games, events, and to purchase tickets, visit: www.orangecountysoccer.com