The dirndls and lederhosen were out in full force on September 9, 2017 at the Elmwood Park Zoo, for their 10th Annual Oktoberfest Beer Festival.

Featuring over 40 breweries sampling their best craft beers, ciders and shandies, there were also party games, animal encounters, live music from Great Big House and DJ A-Run, food for purchase, and more to enjoy.

Craft Beer Standouts

Of course, as always, I came across a great many beers that I’ve had and enjoyed before, including the Tröegs Independent Brewing Crimson Pistil Hibiscus IPA (soon to be featured in my upcoming review of the Troeg’s Anthology Box) as well as pretty much anything ever made by Evolution Craft Brewing Company, so, as usual, I’ll avoid rehashing any beers I’ve had before.

I will be picking up these and a few others so that I can do some in-depth reviews in the coming months, but until then, below are three of my top standouts from the festival.


Fordham Dilated Pupilz Golden Pilsner

Dilated Pupilz, with their solid malt backbone and balanced hoppiness, have crafted a perfect beer to enjoy any time of the year. With a distinct hop nose, the malty flavors hit first, finishing with a floral bitterness.


Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA

Aggressively dry-hopped, this West Coast-Style IPA hits hard with the citrus, pine, grapefruit and pineapple.


Starr Hill Brewery Grateful Pale Ale

A fresh take on the American Pale Ale. I know, I know, we hear this kind of thing a lot. This remastered recipe truly stands out among the style with more fruits, more citrus, and a smoother body than others I’ve tried.

Zoo Brew Bar & Beer Garden

Oktoberfest isn’t the only time you get to share a craft beer with a bison. Even year-round, The Zoo Brew Bar & Beer Garden serves wine and draft beers on tap every weekend.

A great pit stop for parents needing a quick brew break, or come by one of their many adult events throughout the year, such as their upcoming live music series for the fall. The newly expanded lounge area gives guests more room to sit and relax while enjoying their beverage of choice (they have their own line of craft beer!).

This year you could even purchase (or in some cases, win) a Zoo Brew branded growler, which you could fill up with any beer available on tap at the festival at the end of the event. What a great way to bring home a bit of the festival.

Feeding Our Beastly Appetites

Food was available throughout the zoo, from the usual Elmwood Park Zoo locations. Whenever you visit Elmwood Park, you should expect to leave on a full stomach.

The cart that looks like it belongs on a Jersey boardwalk is the Treetop Cafe, offering delicious daily specials, grilled sandwiches and burgers, wraps, fries, salads and other typical carnival fare. Be sure not to miss Sarapes on the Go as well, where El Sarape serves authentic Mexican cuisine.

Not that hungry? You can stop by the Zoo coffee shop, Jus’ Java, offering coffees, teas, baked goods and other light fare.

Overall Impressions

I have to admit, me and my wife have been going to the Elmwood Park Zoo for a few years now. It’s a fantastic small zoo, well kept and with some great amenities. Throw a beer festival on top of that and you have an absolutely perfect storm of awesome.

I look forward to continuing to visit the Elmwood Park Zoo, and now that I’ve attended one of their Beer Festivals, I don’t plan on missing any in the future. It’s too good to miss.

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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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