Beer Knowledge

Craft Beer and Wildlife are the Perfect Pair at Beer Fests in the Zoo

Published April 26th, 2016

If you love beer, then you’re no stranger to the wildlife that goes hand in hand with a night of drinking. Visions of Animal House are probably popping through your head right now. Toga! Toga!

But when we say here’s your chance to “go drink with animals,” we don’t mean Jim Belushi (or your best friend Billy Bob). We actually mean you can drink with animals, thanks to beer fests held at zoos.

Beer fests at zoos is not an entirely new concept, but it seems as though not every craft beer lover knows of this untapped treasure. Imagine this:

You’re sitting back enjoying a local microbrew – without a care in the world – when suddenly a full-fledged lion – The King of the Jungle – traipses toward you, and plops down just a few feet from you and your beverage.

One way to enjoy this type of scenario is to bring a cooler with you on your next African safari. But a more affordable – and safer – way to get that same experience is by checking out any or all of these top 10 beer fests at zoos.

  1. WaZoo BeerFest – Tampa Bay, FL, Saturday, May 7.  Proving that beer fests with a zoo backdrop isn’t just some new fad, WaZoo BeerFest is now in its 21st year of helping to ring in spring for folks in and around Tampa Bay. More than 250 beers and beverages from across the globe make their way to the Lowry Park Zoo each year, which is why it’s no surprise that USA Today named WaZoo BeerFest as one of “10 Great Beer Festivals in the Country”.  Learn more now.
  2. Franklin Park Zoo Brew at the Zoo – Boston, MA, Saturday, Aug. 20
    Perhaps you like the idea of going to a zoo for a beer fest because, well, you love zoos. Then you’ll love the Franklin Park Zoo Brew at the Zoo (at Franklin Park Zoo), where proceeds from the event support the operation and continued growth of Zoo New England.
    What can you expect at the Franklin Park Zoo’s annual beer fest? Well, how about craft beers from Boston and beyond, complemented with a touch of pygmy hippos, a flair of ring-tailed lemurs, and a dash of gorillas. Sound like fun? We thought so. Learn more now.
  3. Riverbanks Brew at the Zoo – Columbia, SC, Friday, Aug. 5
    Working our way down the east coast, let’s make a stop in South Carolina, where the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden hosts its annual sippin’ safari. Enjoy a variety of imports, domestics and microbrews, alongside live entertainment, animal encounters and much more. Proceeds support wildlife conservation. Learn more now.
  4. Brew at The Zoo at the Maryland Zoo –  Baltimore, MD, Saturday, May 28
    The Maryland Zoo’s most important fundraiser of the year just so happens to also be one of the coolest beer fests in the mid-Atlantic region. During Memorial Day weekend, enjoy unlimited beer sampling, live music, local artisan vendors and all-day admission to the zoo. You should know this is the zoo’s 140th anniversary, so Brew 2016 promises to be their best beer bash yet, as everyone (from animals to humans) will be celebrating a little bit harder to recognize nearly a century and a half of animal accomplishments. Learn more now.
  5. Santa Barbara Zoo ZOO Brew – Santa Barbara, CA, Saturday, June 4
    In 2015, Zoo Brew sold out in a matter of hours. There’s absolutely no reason to believe this year will be any different. With tastings on tap from 35+ breweries, plus pub food and merchandise for sale, we can’t think of another reason why people from around the country wouldn’t want to make a trip out west for Memorial Day. Oh yeah, wait a minute – it’s Santa Barbara … in May. That, plus craft beer sampling, make this a can’t-miss event. Learn more now.

  6. Philadelphia Zoo Summer Ale Festival – Philadelphia, PA, Saturday, July 16
    Fresh off a 4th-of-July celebration in the bedrock of American history, Philadelphia will be ready once again to show what it means to party in the city of Brotherly Love. The Philadelphia Zoo’s annual craft beer festival offers unlimited beer samplings from the region’s top breweries, as well as a live band, DJ, games and more. Philly food trucks will also be on hand, as well great apps and other exotic creatures. Learn more now.
  7.  Brew at the Zoo at The Smithsonian National Zoo – Washington D.C., Thursday, July 21
    You didn’t think the Smithsonian National Zoo was going to be left off this list, did you? Not only does our nation’s capital take part in this brew-at-the-zoo festival trend, but it also knows how to make the most of the event.
    The National Zoo’s annual beer festival offers sample beers from more than 75 craft breweries, as well as lawn games, animal demonstrations, and food trucks, with all proceeds going to animal care and conservation at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The event is held and organized by FONZ (that’s Friends of the National Zoo, in case you didn’t know). Learn more now.
  8. Zoo Brew at Brookfield Zoo – Brookfield, IL, Saturday, Aug. 27
    Now in its fifth year, Zoo Brew at Brookfield Zoo sure has been able to create the ultimate party-animal atmosphere for Midwesterners. What does a general admission ticket get you? How about free parking, admission to the zoo and Zoo Brew tent, samples from over 80 beers, a commemorative tasting glass and more. There are even VIP and Designated Driver tickets available as well, meaning everyone in your group can make the most of the event. Learn more now.
  9. Zoo Brew - Potawatomi Zoo – South Bend, IN, Saturday, Oct. 1
    Many of the beer festivals listed here are held in the summer or late spring. But not Zoo Brew at the Potawatomi Zoo. It’s held in October, just as fall settles itself on Indiana. In case you didn’t know, October in Indiana is a pretty fine time for a trip to the zoo – with or without the beer. Luckily for you, on Oct. 1, the beer will be flowing, as will food from local restaurants. Proceeds will benefit wildlife conservation, new naturalistic exhibits, and education programs. Learn more now.
  10. Roger Williams Park Zoo Brew at the Zoo – Providence, RI, Saturday, Aug. 27
    Ready to tap into your wild side? Good, that’s exactly what the folks at Roger Williams Park Zoo want to hear. Guests of the zoo’s annual fundraiser will sample more than 100 craft beers from dozens of local, regional, and national brewers. Roger Williams is also home to impressive “education animals” who’ll be at the zoo, providing entertainment (and education) while you listen to live music and taste beers from places like Trinity Brewhouse, Bucket Brewery, Long Trail and others. Learn more now.

    Photo coursey of Franklin Park Zoo Brew at the Zoo (Website)

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