Readers of DCBeer.com have dreams. They want to be astronauts, kung-fu warriors, members of Congress, snake wranglers. Ambitious dreams, certainly. This humble blogger had a much simpler dream he wanted to fulfill last week: to share a pint of craft beer with a giraffe at the National Zoo’s annual Brew at the Zoo fundraiser for the Friends of the National Zoo. Sadly, that dream didn’t come true for me, but thankfully there was a lot of great beer, people, and food at the event to help me mitigate the sadness that came with not getting to split an IPA with my long black-tongued animal friend.
Those who braved the oppressing humidity during the long, long walk down to the very depths of the National Zoo (between Cleveland Park and Woodley Park on Connecticut Avenue) were rewarded with drafts from a welcome keg of Flying Dog’s Doggie Style Pale Ale.
Beer in hand and thirst quenched, event patrons were then free to wander through the booths of some 45 breweries. There was a fine selection of beers on hand; most breweries were pouring two styles, but some, like Baltimore’s own Oliver Breweries (poured by brewer Stephen Jones) had a whopping four lines in their jockey boxes.
For an event as large as it was (I estimate about 400 people were there) much of the event appeared to go off without a hitch. The numerous booths made for relatively short lines for beer (although admittedly the lines for food were much longer).
Zoo staff handed out complimentary water and soda and were even thoughtful enough to provide a mug rinsing station (you do not want to put your Redhook ESB in a mug that just held Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, of course).
There were also game stations set up with the ironically named “Toss Your Cookies” and some variations of beer pong.
The only knock I have against this event is that it did not incorporate the zoo as much as it could have. Joking aside, I am well aware that you cannot actually bring a giraffe to a beer tasting. Still, this event, which raises funds for the Zoo, perhaps could have incorporated the Zoo’s mission and inhabitants in some ways. I know that some of the perks of being in the VIP tent were “animal demonstrations,” but even something simple like having a staff member walk around with a parrot on their finger could have reminded event patrons, “I’m enjoying a pint of my favorite craft beer at the zoo. Excellent!” It just seemed like the event could have been transplanted from the Zoo to any other venue without much change to the atmosphere or proceedings. I should also mention that around 9pm, most, if not all, of the booths had kicked their final kegs. While this caused some scattered grumbling, the event was scheduled to end at 9, so it’s just good timing that this worked out the way that it did.
All in all, Brew at the Zoo 2010 was an excellent experience. Kudos to Zoo staff for putting on an event that ran smoothly and gave folks the chance to sample some excellent craft beers in a fun venue. I hope they’ll consider incorporating more of the animals into next year’s event because my dream hasn’t died. I know there’s a giraffe somewhere out there that wants to split a pint with me.