The 4th Annual Miami New Times Brew at the Zoo, or what it should have been more aptly named, Brew at the Zoo’s Grassy Area in Front of the Parking Lot, was marketed as an event for “beer snobs,” featuring performances and “appearances” from Luke and Naughty by Nature.
With such a plot to pull so many “beer snobs” in an area that’s still cultivating and climbing in its craft beer scene, it should have been obvious that Brew at the Zoo would have fallen short. But why, though? If Sprung!, Miami Beach Beer Fest, and Palm Beach’s Brew at the Zoo fest were able to pull it together this year, what makes Brew at the Zoo a notch below? It’s the missing sincere desire to actually cultivate a craft beer scene. Not even Admiral Ackbar could have warned us in time for the May 4 event.
The first tell was the last ditch effort to unload half-priced tickets to the masses the day before. At $17.50 versus $35 general admission, the event that really only had a handful of craft breweries, was cracked wide open from the “beer snob” category to the “anyone who thinks beer gets ya drunk” category. Needless to say, it picked up an additional 500 “snobs” from that move alone. However, these were the same unsmiling faces making long lines with 2 oz. plastic cups for a beer that tastes like … hibiscus?! *beer hitting the ground*
However to say that all the lines there were long, would be a misconception, Chang’s had enough blecchhh for everyone to enjoy. Of the touted 100 beers, there were closer to 50 and only about 20% were worth remembering (although it seems no one’s goal was to remember anything).
The VIP tent was sponsored by Budweiser. The VIP Tent. Budweiser.
Another big letdown was the presumption that “Brew at the Zoo” would hold to its “at the Zoo” claim, instead of herding beer lovers into an open field. In years past, pictures show at least an on-stage animal demonstration. This year the only animals present were of the party variety. There was one gorilla running around in a Moron Brothers Brewing shirt. I’m sure he was surprised being bested by a booty beast that tackled him, locking him into a booty dance move so vulgar, I hadn’t seen it since middle school. Ah, childhood.
Speaking of nostalgia, Luke was serving it up in big doses from the stage, hosting a booty contest, where contestants popped their naughty bits, scrubbed the ground and one girl went wild, flashin’ the audience to what could only be described as polite screams. Luke mentioned he wasn’t getting paid enough to perform. Naughty by Nature performed what felt like half a verse and it was done.
Meh, the “largest beer event” in South Florida is luckily no longer the only beer event, so we’ll just have to see how local event planners continue to jump on the craft beer trend, hopefully with more authenticity in mind.
Brew at (or around) the Zoo may not be worth repeating without serious retooling, but the brews from Miami were great and worth noting.
Mango was on the menu for event goers looking for Miami’s craft beer flavor of the season. Some had more of a light-bodied, crisp and hoppy lean as with Most Wanted’s “Hops and Robbers,” while others hit more of a candied taste like Miami Brewing Company’s “Shark Attack.” Moron Brothers brought a golden, hazy, hoppy contribution with “Don’t Worry, Wheat Hoppy” similar to Fourth Age’s “U are the Mango?” which gets scarily close to smelling and tasting like mango, probably because of the six pounds of fruit that’s used per batch.
Other fruity contributions included the intense, slightly overbearing, creamy coconut flavor of Miami Brewing Company’s “Big Rod Ale,” and the surprisingly sweet smelling “Caught Red Handed” from Moron Brothers, which follows with a hoppy, rich grapefruit taste. Less fruity, yet still reminiscent of summer was Fourth Age’s “Lost City,” with a light and fresh aroma, is a balanced golden ale with hints of citrus and lemongrass.
While mostly a festival with pale ales and light lagers, there were some darker notables, including Most Wanted’s “Dead wood porter” a light-bodied porter with smooth, slightly malty and chocolate notes and Hawaii-based Kona Brewing’s Koko Brown, a rich and smooth, medium-bodied dark brown ale with a non-offensive coconut taste and lasting toffee notes.
(Looking forward to next fest to catch Misfit Homebrewers, 2 live brews, Angry Union and Blockhead Brewery, who were all out of their tasty brews before our arrival).
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