Last Saturday night, the Philadelphia Zoo once again opened its gates for an enjoyable evening of craft brew and zoology. Almost 40 breweries and 10 food trucks served their creations in five locations across the zoo, from the “Red River Hog Saloon” (the base of the Zoo Balloon) to the “Big Cat Beer Garden.” As attendees walked from one location to another to the sounds of a live band and a DJ, friendly and knowledgeable Philadelphia Zoo staff exhibited animals such as owls, snakes and macaws. Several exhibits were also open, including the Primate House, the Reptiles and Amphibians exhibit, and the Rare Animal Conservation Center, making this a truly unique beer festival. And, thanks to the Zoo’s sky trails, both monkeys and tigers were able to watch the visitors from above as they enjoyed craft brew on the warm summer evening.
Among the breweries who offered their finest mid-summer pairings were Carton Brewing Company with their “Dune Fruit” Berliner Weiss; York, Pennsylvania-based Crystal Ball Brewing Company with “Coconut Porter,” Chesapeake Brewing’s “Marsh Mud Oyster Stout,” brewed with oyster juice, and Saucony Creek Brewing served their “XReserve 05-2015 Ginger Peach Saison.” Food was available for purchase from some of Philadelphia’s most sought after food trucks, including the Flying Deutschman, SeoulFull Philly and Mac Mart.
As the night grew darker, a male peacock high in a tree near Big Cat Falls seemingly announced “last call.” Although the taps closed at 9:30, the Zoo remained open until 10, allowing the fest-goers to see the animals one last time – including Louis, the 16 year-old Silverback Gorilla who made his nest on the floor and threw his arm over his head as if to say, “Turn out the lights – the party’s over.” Unlike many other beer fests, the Philadelphia Zoo Summer Ale Festival was a well-organized, extremely enjoyable event that could be a great way to introduce someone to the craft beer scene. This is absolutely an event to keep on your radar next summer. Cheers!