If you enjoy beer, you’re probably familiar with the wildlife of a night out on the town. Your mind is undoubtedly racing with visions of Animal House right now. Togas!
However, we are not referring to Jim Belushi when we say “go drink with animals” (or your best friend, Billy Bob). Because of beer festivals hosted at zoos, you can drink alongside the animals.
Beer festivals at zoos aren’t a new notion, but not everyone who enjoys craft beer is aware of this hidden gem. Take the following example:
You’re sitting back, minding your own business, sipping a local microbrew, when all of a sudden, a full-grown lion – The King of the Jungle – approaches you and lands only a few feet away from you and your beverage.
Bringing a cooler with you on your next African safari is one way to enjoy this type of situation. However, visiting any or all of these top 10 beer fests in zoos is a more affordable – and safer – way to have that same experience.
1. WaZoo BeerFest — Saturday, May 7 in Tampa Bay, Florida
WaZoo BeerFest is in its 21st year, proving that beer festivals with zoo backdrops aren’t just a fad. Each year, more than 250 beers and beverages from around the world make their way to the Lowry Park Zoo, making WaZoo BeerFest one of the “10 Great Beer Festivals in the Country,” according to USA Today.
2. Brew at the Zoo at Franklin Park Zoo – Saturday, August 20, Boston, MA
You may enjoy the idea of attending a zoo beer festival because you enjoy zoos. The Franklin Park Zoo Brew at the Zoo (at Franklin Park Zoo) is a great way to assist Zoo New England’s operation and growth.
What can you expect at the Franklin Park Zoo’s annual beer festival? How about a mix of pygmy hippos, ring-tailed lemurs, and gorillas, with a dash of pygmy hippos, ring-tailed lemurs, and gorillas for good measure? Isn’t it exciting? So we assumed.
3. Riverbanks Brew at the Zoo – Friday, August 5 in Columbia, SC
As we continue our journey down the east coast, we’ll stop in South Carolina at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, where the annual sippin’ safari takes place. Enjoy a wide selection of imports, domestics, microbrews, live music, animal encounters, and other activities. The proceeds support wildlife conservation.
4. Brew at the Zoo — Saturday, May 28, at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, MD
The Maryland Zoo’s biggest fundraiser of the year also happens to be one of the region’s coolest beer festivals. Unlimited beer sampling, live music, local craft merchants, and an all-day zoo entrance are available during Memorial Day weekend.
Because this is the zoo’s 140th anniversary, Brew 2016 promises to be the best beer festival yet, with everyone (from animals to humans) celebrating a little harder to honor nearly a century and a half of animal successes.
5. ZOO Brew at the Santa Barbara Zoo – Saturday, June 4 in Santa Barbara, CA
Zoo Brew was a hit in 2015, selling out in just a few hours. There’s no reason to expect anything different this year. We can’t think of another reason why people from all over the country wouldn’t want to come out west for Memorial Day, with tastings on tap from 35+ brewers, pub cuisine, and goods for sale. Oh, wait, it’s May in Santa Barbara. This event is a must-attend because of the craft beer sampling.
6. Summer Ale Festival at the Philadelphia Zoo – July 16, Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia will be ready to display what it means to revel in the city of Brotherly Love once more, fresh off a 4th-of-July celebration in the heart of American history. The annual craft beer festival in the Philadelphia Zoo features unlimited beer samplings from the region’s best breweries, a live band, D.J., games, and other activities. There will also be food trucks from Philadelphia, amazing apps, and other exotic animals on hand.
7. Brew at the Zoo, Thursday, July 21, at The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
Did you expect the Smithsonian National Zoo to be left off the list? Our nation’s capital not only participates in the brew-at-the-zoo craze but also knows how to make the most of it.
The National Zoo’s annual beer festival includes lawn activities, animal demonstrations, and food trucks, with all revenues benefiting animal care and conservation at the Smithsonian National Zoo. FONZ (Friends of the National Zoo, if you didn’t know) is hosting and organizing the event.
8. Brookfield Zoo Brew – Saturday, August 27, Brookfield, IL
Now in its fifth year, Zoo Brew at Brookfield Zoo has certainly succeeded in creating the perfect Midwesterner party-animal environment. A general admission ticket entitles you to the following. Free parking, zoo entry, samples from over 80 beers, a souvenir tasting glass, and more are all included. VIP and Designated Driver tickets are also available, ensuring that everyone in your party has a great day.
9. Zoo Brew at the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana, on Saturday, October 1.
Many of the beer festivals on this list take place throughout the summer or late spring. However, the Potawatomi Zoo does not provide Zoo Brew. It takes place in October when the state of Indiana settles into fall. In case you didn’t know, October in Indiana is a great month for a zoo visit – with or without the beer. Fortunately, beer and food from nearby eateries will be available on October 1. Wildlife protection, new naturalistic exhibitions, and educational activities will benefit from the proceeds.
10. Brew at the Zoo at Roger Williams Park – Providence, RI, Saturday, August 27
Are you ready to unleash your inner beast? That’s excellent news for the staff at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Guests at the zoo’s annual fundraiser will get to sample over 100 craft beers from dozens of local, regional, and national breweries. Roger Williams is also home to spectacular “education animals” who will be on hand at the zoo, offering entertainment (and information). At the same time, you listen to live music and sample beers from Trinity Brewhouse, Bucket Brewery, Long Trail, and other local breweries.