When you’re hunting for ways to keep craft beer flowing in the suburbs, you sometimes have to look at every event as a unique opportunity. That’s exactly what I did when asked if I would like to attend the first Chicago Zoological Society Zoo Brew held at the Brookfield Zoo in the Chicago area.
Around 15 breweries poured over 40 beers in the middle of a zoo….what could possibly go wrong?
Only one thing…
(…continues below image)
After one of the driest summers in history, mother nature decided it was time for a good 8-hour soak. But the zoo, breweries and attendees weren’t about to let a little sogginess stop the party. Sure, it made the two beer pavillions a little packed and an exercise in puddle-jumping, but the warm temperatures kept it from being unbearable.
The fine beers certainly helped in that regard as well. Some old standbys were on hand: Samuel Adams, Blue Moon, New Belgium, Sierra Nevada. Ironically, their lines were consistently the shortest. Firestone Walker, one of my favorite breweries right now, seemed to rule the day in terms of crowds at their table. Locals like Wild Onion held their own, with some great word-of-mouth in the lines about their pumpkin ale. Rumor has it they’ll pour you a Jack Lantern, a combination of their pumpkin ale and stout, at their brew house in Barrington.
Meanwhile, month-old newcomers Hopothesis Beer Company made a big splash with only one beer on tap, their fresh and inspired IPA. This beer quickly became by favorite of the day. Sure, I love FW’s Wookey Jack, but thats old news by now. It was refreshing to see four local guys at this event who were passionate about beer and loved to talk about it. At an event where every other beer I tried got a single ticket, I returned not twice but FIVE times to re-taste this brew.
(…concludes after image)
Brewmaster Ike and one of his three co-hopothesizers.
While the scattered showers-turned-downpour put a little damper on the day, Brookfield Zoo still provided an enjoyable event for brew lovers. With one year under their belt, I’m sure next year will run even more smoothly. Hopefully they can find a way to either cut the lines down or at least reorganize them for easier access. And a little more shelter in case of foul weather might be a good idea.
Regardless, it was an evening our little group won’t forget and I’m glad to have discovered a couple of new brews and a new, budding brewery to enjoy.