Heavy clouds threatened the 16th annual Brew at the Zoo last Friday, but the sold out event went on as scheduled. Although missing a few vendors and ticket holders, the suds safari still drew almost 3,000 people and over 40 of Colorado’s best breweries. I arrived prepared for the worst, rain jacket and umbrella in hand. But the weather held off with just a few drops of rain here and there, allowing guests to enjoy a night out with animals and friends alike.
Event preview ticket holders had the opportunity to enter the zoo one hour before general admission at 7:00 pm and I believe it was worth the extra money. I loved wandering around the zoo and sampling the best beers and food before the crowds. It also allowed for more time to see the animals before dark.
Everyone knows Denver has delicious beer, but what impressed me most about this year’s Brew at the Zoo was the food. The quality of the food offerings was definitely better than in previous years. Long-time participants, the Cherry Cricket, dished out cheeseburgers and piping hot bowls of spicy green chili. One of the best pairings of the evening was FATE Brewing Company’s pork belly slider and their special Belgian Saison, the Elephas Maximus Cervesia. There were quite a few pork sandwich options this year, but FATE’s was the best. Other standout food choices included Euclid Hall’s fried green tomato and baby heirloom tomato salad, and the Paramount Cafe’s black bean chili. I even managed to snag some Sweet Action ice cream. The cooler weather couldn’t deter me from a bowl of salted butterscotch ice cream. It was salty and sweet and just right.
When I wasn’t inhaling delicious food, I thoroughly enjoyed the beer. I’m always on the look out for delicious fall beers, especially pumpkin. The best of the pumpkin beers was the Shocktop Pumpkin Wheat. Shocktop’s pumpkin beer was easy drinking and without the in-your-face-pumpkin flavor that sometimes dominates other autumn beers. I’m also going to stock up on Woodchuck Hard Cider’s pumpkin and fall ciders. Not too sweet and with plenty of flavor, I had a great time watching the elephants and giraffes while sipping these ciders. Local powerhouses Odell and Great Divide were in attendance, pouring some great draughts. And one of my favorite beers was Prost’s Oktoberfest Märzen. I love Märzen style beers, and although Prost’s version is a bit on the sweet side, it also has a great malty flavor and a clean finish. This classic Oktoberfest beer will be available at the tasting room from September 20-27, so check it out quick before it disappears for the season.
Overall, this year’s Brew at the Zoo was a success. Organizers did a great job of monitoring the weather and ensuring that they could still hold a safe and fun event. If the crowds of happy, animal-loving, beer-drinking guests were any indication, it was the perfect antidote to last week’s dreary rain.