Five Best Food and Drink Events in South Florida This Weekend: South Florida Beer Week, Bus Loop, and More

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Congratulations, you made it through yet another working week. You might as well give yourself a pat on the back to celebrate -- or better yet, a drink or three.

Whether you are hoping to be chauffered from bar to bar, looking to revel in the glory that is the South Florida craft beer scene, or longing to g'nosh on gourmet eats while ogling adorable animals, there's something for you to do in South Florida this weekend.

See also: More Food and Drink Events in Broward and Palm Beach Counties

5. Palm Beach Zoo's Food Truck Safari

Food, fuzzy animals, and having an excuse to get off the couch on a Saturday night are three things most people tend to appreciate. Here's your chance to combine all of the above at the Palm Beach Zoo's Food Truck Safari. Taking place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, January 18, the event features live music, zookeeper talks, animal training, and close-up encounters. Admission to the park is $10 for nonmember adults, $9 for member adults, $7 for nonmember kids, $6 for member kids, and children under 3 are free. Food and beverage -- beer and wine is available -- are not included in admission. Visit palmbeachzoo.org/special-events. -- Sara Ventiera

4. Mardi Gras Casino's Inaugural Homebrewing Competition

Beer festivals can be boring places where companies bring out the same old core beers year after year and increasingly cost more and more money in entrance fees. Break away from the status quo and enter the world of the homebrewing competitions. On Saturday, head down to the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach from 2 to 6 p.m. for its inaugural homebrewing competition, where local homebrewers will compete for best in the area while you listen to some great music and sample their beers and eat delicious barbecue.

For only $15 (a fraction of a beer festival admission), guests will be given a pretzel necklace and a cup to sample from the 30-plus beers that will be onsite, including those made from South Florida's own Russ Brunner -- winner of both a gold medal at the 35th Annual National Homebrewers Conference and the Sam Adams LongShot competition. Competitions like this are great places to witness the future of brewing. Call 954-924-3200. Mardi Gras Casino is located at 831 N. Federal Highway in Hallandale Beach. -- By Doug Fairall

3. "Harvest Festival" Grand Opening Celebration

The closest most of us ever get to a farm is the produce aisle at our local grocery store. Sure, those beautifully waxed and picked pieces of fruit and vegetables were grown out of plants in the ground, but chances are they were shipped from thousands of miles away, losing many of the vital nutrients in the process -- that's not exactly farm-to-table, even if it does make its way into your mouth. To make it easier for residents to get their hands in the dirt -- we know, it is work -- there's the Dania Beach PATCH, short for People's Access to Community Horticulture. It's hosting a "Harvest Festival" Grand Opening Celebration for its community garden on Saturday.

The kid-friendly festival is bringing together locals to showcase the fruits -- and veggies -- of PATCH's labor by highlighting its GrowBag technology. The event will include cooking demos with partner FLIPANY (Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth), live music, arts and crafts, vendors, a ribbon-cutting, and artist presentations. There is no cost to attend. It takes place Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dania Beach Patch is located at 1200 NW First St. in Dania Beach. Call 954-561-9681, or visit touchbroward.org. -- By Sara Ventiera

2. Game Day Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop

This Friday, the Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop kicks off its first bar crawl of 2014 with a "Game Day"-themed tour of downtown bars. The Dolphins didn't make the playoffs -- again -- this season. This is your chance to publicly drown your sorrows.

For $35, you can hitch a ride to eight participating venues, including Tokyo Blue, S3, McSorley's, and Sandbar. Each venue offers a free drink or light bites to those with a Bus Loop card. About a dozen trolleys will shuttle the drunken masses between each bar. Check-in runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Bokamper's Sports Bar (3115 NE 32nd Ave.) and Tropic Cay (529 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.).

Designated drivers ride for free. For those without a DD, B Ocean Fort Lauderdale has special room rates for anyone who gets a little too "looped." Your impending hangover will not be in vain, however. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit local charities like the Jack & Jill Children's Center and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Kickoff for the Game Day Bus Loop is 6 p.m. and runs until midnight. Call 954-574-6000, or visit busloop.org. -- By Kristin Bjornsen

1. Third Annual South Florida Beer Week

It's the mother of all beer weeks starting Saturday and lasting through January 25 as venues across Broward and Palm Beach counties set up to let you drink like a local. Starting with a Brew Bus tour on Saturday of Due South Brewing in Boynton Beach, Brewzzi Brewpub in Boca, and Funky Buddha Brewing in Oakland Park, $60 gets you a seat on the bus, beers along the way and at each stop, along with food and a private tour of each facility. Check-in is at 10:45 a.m. at Funky Buddha (1201 NE 38th St., Oakland Park). Tuesday will showcase the talents of executive chef Fritz Cassell of West Palm Beach's Hullabaloo (517 N. Clematis St., West Palm Beach), New Times' top new restaurant of 2013, and brewmaster Mike Halker of Due South with a beer-pairing dinner starting at 7 p.m. Other weeklong events include a Thursday-night Cigar City Brewing tap takeover at Tipsy Boar (1906 Harrison St., Hollywood) featuring Black Ash, Tocobaga, Jose Marti, and Humidor Series IPA, and a Florida tap takeover at Tap 42 (1411 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale). The week is capped off with the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival at Roger Dean Stadium (4751 Main St., Jupiter) starting at 1 p.m. With tickets starting at $31 online ($35 at the door), it's one of South Florida's most cost-effective beer feasts. For the full lineup of events, check out southfloridabeerweek.com. -- Doug Fairall

See also: More Food and Drink Events in Broward and Palm Beach Counties

You can contact Rebecca Dittmar, Arts & Culture Editor/Food Blog Editor at rebecca.dittmar@browardpalmbeach.com.

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