Beer Inspiration in our Backyard: Brew at the Zoo

The name says it all. Brew at the Zoo was a beer festival at The Franklin Park Zoo. My lovely and awesome girlfriend bought us tickets for my birthday and we had an excellent time.

Having been to my share of beer festivals this was one of the best run festivals I have attended. There are a few key aspects to running a beer festival that take an event to the next level.

One of them is transportation. The easier it is to responsibly come and go at a festival the better. The folks at the zoo arranged free shuttles to and from Forrest Hills station on the Orange Line. That made getting there for us a piece of cake. We took the Commuter Rail to North Station, where we were able to pick up the Orange Line.

The organizers made sure there was plenty of free water. The fact it was a hot and humid day made this even more important. They also did a great job having plenty of food vendors with free samples. Most festivals your lucky to have a couple of food trucks; often it’s crappy food from a concessionaire.

There wasn’t a ton of beer there I hadn’t had before. I am up to 2200 unique check-ins on Untappd; it would be harsh to slight the festival for the selection. It is getting to the point where I have to travel to try new stuff. I took the opportunity to circle back to some favorites. Unfortunately several brewers like Samuel Adams and Leinenkugel’s brought Oktoberfests and Pumpkin beers. When I asked Mayflower if they were pouring Summer Rye their rep pouring was almost apologetic when he said they brought Autumn Wheat. I did my best not to come across as a whiny dick about it.

There were a few smaller Massachusetts brewers that aren’t widely available on the North Shore who were there. Hopsters brought two IPAs: Comet Citra a lighter, citrusy IPA, and Ship of Fools a hoppy IPA with a solid malt flavor which reminded me a lot of Newburyport Green Head IPA. Rapscallion poured a very solid Summer White witbier and Pilsner. Aeronaut brought four beers including Kristallweizen, a clean and clear German wheat, in stark contrast to a cloudy hefeweizen chock full of yeast flavors. Weiheinstephanner makes an excellent Kristallweizen. This would be a fun style to brew some day. I really enjoyed the three other beers Aeronaut brought. We will have to visit them and Slumbrew’s new facility in Somerville some time soon.

There was a new brewery called Mighty Squirrel. They produce low calorie beers with extra protein for active individuals. The Original is a Vienna Lager with a light caramel flavor. They also have a Light, an American Light Lager I did not try. I asked if they added protein powder to the beer in the tank. They spent four years developing a process to extract the additional proteins from the malt without adversely effecting the taste, clarity, and shelf-life of the beer. I enjoyed the Original for what it was. If nothing else their beer is a local and more flavorful alternative to Michelob Ultra.

I hadn’t been to a zoo since going to The National Zoo in the 8th grade. It was fun seeing all the different animals. The zebras and giraffes were out. The peacocks seemed to have free run of the place. We got to see kangaroos, hyenas, condors, flamingos, lots of different birds. When a thunderstorm rolled in we took refuge inside a barn with horses, a  donkey, baby goats, and we spent some quality time with a cow.

The only downside was that all the vendors shut down when the rain started. The weather isn’t something anybody can do anything about, but it was unfortunate the event was cut short. In all it was a good time and I have an idea for a possible summer beer for next year.

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