For the first time, this humble writer can put the words 'party animals' down and mean it with literal truth. That's right, it's Brew at the Zoo time!
The inaugural event at the Palm Beach Zoo welcomed one thousand area beer aficionados (in both quality and quantity) to come hang out amongst the peacocks, sloths, fruit bats, jaguars, and countless other animals to experience a world of good beer, good music, and (more) good beer.
"We wanted to reach out to a different audience," said Ron Brooks, Events Manager for the zoo. "Over 30 zoos across the country do a 'Brew at the Zoo' event. There are not a lot of beer festivals in Palm Beach County, and we thought this would be a great showcase for our facility."
As something of a 'beer guy' himself, Brooks was committed to bringing in quality product to the festival, especially from local brewers.
Area favorites Holy Mackerel, Due South, Tequesta Brewing, Inlet Brewing, and the Native Brewing Company were out beneath tents, pouring out the good libations to a thirsty crowd. Lines were long, but the response was overwhelmingly positive. Towards the end of the night, many were taking to chatting on the long wooden bridge lined with torches; an atmosphere that couldn't be beat by any area bar.
Jodi Halker, half of the husband and wife team that run Due South in Boynton Beach, was there, graciously emptying kegs of Caramel Cream Ale, Cat 3 IPA, and Roasted Cocoa Stout.
"We're very excited to be a part of [Brew at the Zoo]. It's a wonderful time for beer lovers," said Halker.
The Due South team is also coming up on its first anniversary celebrations on May 12th. "We anticipate more experimental beers," she says, of what to expect during year two. Expanded distribution and a canning or bottling line are also in the works.
Beyond the local brews, some regional contenders made their way down. Zoo-goers could sample season fare from Narragansett, Southern Pecan brown ale from Lazy Magnolia in Mississippi, or the aptly-named-for-this-event Victory Golden Monkey, from Pennsylvania.
Also from the Keystone state, Rooney's Old Irish Style Ale made an appearance. Known for being the house beer at Rooney's Public House in Jupiter [http://www.voiceplaces.com/rooneys-public-house-broward-palm-beach-2879817-l/] and West Palm Beach, the beer showed up in bottle form straight from contract brewing at the Penn Brewery.
Luckily, volunteers from the American German Club of the Palm Beaches were on hand to aid in the pouring of many many beers, and their years of beer experience proved welcome to the festival.
Overall, the Brew at the Zoo was an event not to be missed, and should be on your calendar for next year. There's something about drinking beer near a jaguar or a peacock that is both strikingly awesome and slightly unsettling at the same time. Dare I say it: Going to the zoo isn't just for little kids anymore.
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