Beer drinkers descended on the grounds of the Philadelphia Zoo once again this year for their annual Summer Ale Festival. No kids allowed!

Interactive adult learning and fun (did you know gorillas have the smallest penis of any animal relative to their mass?), live music and entertainment, and some of the best craft beer the world has to offer, this event was a night to remember.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Lions, Tigers and Beers… Oh my! #SummerAleFest @PhillyZoo #CraftBeer” quote=”Lions, Tigers and Beers… Oh my!” theme=”style8″]

Don’t let a hangover the next day get you down – each year this festival raises money to support the Zoo in it’s missions of joyful discovery and conservation of natural animal habitats.

Over the course of the event, I had to have tried at least 30 different beers. Needless to say, my notes on the beers went from detailed in-depth examinations to hastily written scribbles that I am still trying to decode.

Instead of trying to break them all down here (trust me, I tried, and it was a mess), I have queued up the beers for myself and even bought a few of them in my local beer store to give them a second go and get some proper reviews up over the next few weeks.

Be sure to scroll down and check out some of the standouts that I just couldn’t forget.

Standout Craft Beers

Because no post on this site should go without some beer analysis, I’ll go through three standouts for me from the event. These are in no particular order, and not even necessarily my favorite beers from the event, just three that I’ve had trouble forgetting for one reason or another.

Saint Benjamin Pilsner Prosim

From the brewery: Assertively hopped with Czech Saaz and brewed in the traditional decoction method, this unfiltered lager will be empty before you finish reading this. –Saint Benjamin Brewing Co.

My two cents: The Pilsner Prosim is a fantastic unfiltered Czech pilsner. Simple and subtle, with a kick of the Czech saaz hops. They are right – it’s a fast drinking beer.

Boulder Beer Hazed Amber Ale

From the brewery: Hazy in its natural unfiltered state, Hazed is dry-hopped during fermentation infusing big, fresh hop flavor and aroma into the beer without adding bitterness, making Hazed a very approachable hoppy brew. –Boulder Beer

My two cents: Hazy and hop infused – this unfiltered beer is incredibly easy to drink on a hot summer day. The sweet fruity smell is delightful, leading into the citrus flavor of the beer. You can taste the hop infusion, but it’s not overpowering.

Dock Street Sexy Beast Chocolate Stout

A burly stout strongly influenced by the creative and artistic nature of Belgian brewing, this velvety ale is silky smooth from the addition of 22 lbs of Belgian Chocolate (100% cocoa, no sugar). –Dock Street Brewing Co.

My two cents: Roasted chocolate on the nose, almost smokey with a slight hint of cherry. Hands down this is one of the richest chocolate stouts I have ever tasted, with the dark and roast malt coming through the strongest, with a rich chocolate flavor left lingering long after you finish drinking.

Honorable Mentions

These are beers I’ve had before and make frequent appearances in my beer-fueled adventures.

Soaking up the Booze

Beer and Cider weren’t the only things on the menu at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Some of the best Philadelphia food trucks were on hand to soak up some of that alcohol, including Baby Blues BBQ, Bonjour Creperie, Hai Street Kitchen, Lil’ Pop Shop, Mi Pueblito Tacos, My Four Suns, Nick’s Roast Beef, Rio Brazilian Steak, Taco Mondo, The Cow and the Curd, and The Happy Pita.

Baby Blues BBQ

Pulled Pork? Yes, please. Had some succulent barbecue, paired with Yard’s Philadelphia Ale. Can’t wait to come across this truck again in the future.

Mi Pueblito Tacos

Seriously… this my favorite taco cart in the city. The carne asada I had went well with the Cape May IPA I was currently drinking (one of my favorite beers, with my favorite food: heaven).

The Cow and the Curd

Battered and fried cheese curds… oh so good. Cheese and beer are both better together. Nothing left to say. It’s science.

See you next year!

If you were there and notice we missed half the event in our video – that’s because we did. We underestimated just how big this event was and lost track of time by the 3rd zone we visited. By the time we made it to the next one, breweries were getting packed up.

This is an event we will be sure not to miss next year. We’ll have to arrive early and get more footage before we try reviewing every craft beer we come across.

Be sure to get tickets as soon as they go on sale (look to the Philadelphia Zoo event page a few weeks in advance) – these tickets DO sell out.


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Andrij Harasewych
Editor at The Craft Beer Diaries. Devoted husband and father. Excessively geeky. Comic books, video games, and craft beer are my vices. Favorite beer style easily the IPA. Growing love for the DIPA, specifically.
Andrij Harasewych

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