Brewing industry kingpins and a growing number of local and regional niche players are poised to turn on the taps at Brookfield Zoo’s second annual Zoo Brew Aug. 10 and 11.
Last year’s inaugural day-long event, attracted a turnout of more than 1,000 participants, despite an inch of rain, and generated favorable feedback, said Julia Enterle, onsite events coordinator at Brookfield Zoo. This year 24 breweries will offer more than 60 craft beers, up from 14 breweries and 40 beers in 2012.
Geared strictly towards adults 21 and older, Zoo Brew will be held in a large tent erected on the east mall. Tickets include park admission, free parking, two-ounce beer samples and a commemorative tasting glass. In addition, Zoo Brew-imprinted T-shirts will be on sale. Proceeds from the tickets will go toward the zoo’s conservation fund.
“We’re bringing many beer variations to Zoo Brew, including a lot that will be new to those participating in this event, or something they haven’t yet tried because it’s from a rare, one-off, hard-to-find small batch,” said John Casiello, director of sales at Burke Beverage Inc.
Revolution Brewing, a newcomer to the lineup, will join three other Chicago-based processors: Argus Brewery (Argus Pegasus IPA), Chicago Beer Co. (Windy City Wheat, Pure Pale Ale); and Hopothesis Beer Co., which will i3ntroduce a new farmhouse ale called Drafty Window.
Among other regional craft beer processors will be Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee and New Holland Brewing, Holland, Mich. Major national brands including Miller, Corona, Coors and Heineken also will have a presence.
“If you ask craft brewers what distinguishes artisanal beer from the mass-produced suds, they would tell you it’s the ingredients,” said Casiello. “They put higher quality, or more ingredients, into their products. In contrast, because it makes production a little easier and the end product more affordable, large processors use a corn or rice adjunct (unmalted grain) instead of all malt.”
Casiello said beer has come a long way in achieving some of the status wine has enjoyed. “For years consumers couldn’t order a unique beer in a fancy restaurant because management didn’t think it belonged there. It took someone like Jim Koch from Boston Beer Co. to point out there are actually more flavor profiles of beer that match better with food than wine,” he said.
“The nice thing about beer is there’s so much variety — something for everybody and for every occasion, whether you want to consume several a day or just one,” Casiello concluded.
Zoo Brew participants can pair their favorite beer with hot dogs, burgers, brats, soft pretzels and popcorn, all of which will be available for purchase.
Six to Midnight, a Chicago-based cover band, will play rock dance tunes on Aug. 10 and Hot Sauce, another local group, will perform ’90s hip-hop guitars and club beats on Aug. 11.
Brookfield Zoo, 8400 W. 31st St., Brookfield
3-7 p.m. Aug. 10 and 11
www.CZS.org/ZooBrew or (708) 688-8000