On Saturday, September 15, the Philadelphia Zoo once again opened it’s gates to throngs of beer and animal lovers. I’m glad I took some extra notes on the event, I’ve had this one sitting for a bit, as I’ve been working double-time and traveling a bit in the last month.
There’s not much new to be said about the Philadelphia Zoo beer festivals, and that is a good thing. Some improvements were made as far as the flow of guests, as well as a bit of an increase in security (not to the point of feeling overwhelming, but it’s nice to know they have our safety in mind). Otherwise, this event continues the tradition of the Philadelphia Zoo holding the best beer festivals in the city.
Animal guides and trainers throughout the zoo keep guests educated and entertained, as some of the top craft brewers in the country serve up their delicious concoctions. Following are some of the best beers I had at the event. Obviously, I had more than this small amount, but if I listed every beer I liked at the event, this post would go on for way too long.
Favorite Craft Beers
N.E.B.I.P.A. by Red Lion Brewery
The light, dry Brut IPA is the West Coast’s response to the juicy and hazy New England style. A hybrid style, the Brut IPA features characteristics from other IPA styles, pairing low bitterness and aromatics of the New England IPA with the bright and clear brisk West-Coast IPA. The first professional commercial example was first brewed in 2017 by Kim Sturdavant, brewer at San Francisco’s Social Kitchen and Brewery.
This beer, the N.E.B.I.P.A. by Red Lion Brewery, is like the Brut IPA style, with even more emphasis on the New England. Pouring a hazy, pale gold with strong white head, the smell is exactly as described, with the juicy pineapple leading off, followed by the unmistakable dry white wine. Tasting is similar to the nose – this has a wonderful juiciness leading to a spectacular dry finish. Pineapples lead the way, along with the lemongrass, Sauvignon Blanc, and sweet honey.
Battle in Four Dimensions by Southern Tier Brewing Company
Battle in Four Dimensions by Southern Tier Brewing Company pours a clear but vibrant maroon, head the lightest shade of pink, I wondered what I was getting myself into. The aroma had a strong, lemony citrus base, with notes of pine and subtle stone fruits. The taste wasn’t far from there, light grains alongside the resinous pine, citrus, and stone fruits. The beets used to color this beer also impart some extra sweetness in this interesting, medium-bodied DIPA.
Unity by Love City Brewing Company
Unity by Love City Brewing pours a perfect yellow-gold color, with dense and foamy white head. The smell of resinous pine and sweet mango waft from the glass. Tropical fruits join in on the taste, with notes of mango, papaya, guava, and passionfruit alongside the pine. Medium bodied with a particularly dry finish, this was a very enjoyable IPA.
Crowd Pleaser by Stable 12
Crowd Pleaser by Stable 12 has a pale and hazy golden copper pour, with light and thin white head leaving a bit of lacing on the edges of the glass. The nose leads you in with grapefruit, mango, orange, and earthy hops. The taste builds off of that, with the resinous pine combining with the grapefruit zest, alongside light tropical fruit notes like mango and pineapple. This is a juicy beer with a medium to full body, and surprising dryness on the finish. Incredibly sessionable.
Most Intriguing Craft Beer
I know, my favorite beers are IPAs and DIPAs. My top beers at each event tend to gravitate towards those styles. For that reason, I’ve started the “most intriguing” craft beer section, with beers I wish I loved more. I can tell they are great, even though the style may not be my wheelhouse.
Bohemian Pilsner by Wacker Brewing Company
Pours a clear, straw-yellow with a good amount of white head. The smell and taste of the Wacker Brewing Company’s Bohemian Pilsner were both classic Pilsner, grassy and sweet, light breadiness, with notes of sweet honey and floral hops. Light-bodied, medium carbonations, smooth with a dry finish.
Excellent session beer at 5.1% ABV, particularly on a hot summer day. This is definitely one to add to the list of beers that can help big beer drinkers move to craft options. It’s not imposing or wildly experimental, it’s just a good beer.
Learned Behavior by Vault Brewing Company
Vault Brewing Company’s Learned Behavior, a gose style beer looks surprisingly similar to the DIPA, a pale and hazy golden copper pour. The tart hits you first, a truly pleasant lemon citrus with a bready finish. The lemon is strong but not overpowering, this gose isn’t overly sour like most that I’ve had. If you are a fan of the gose style, this is DEFINITELY one you want to pick up and try.
Front Row Golden Ale by Starr Hill Brewery
Front Row Golden Ale by Starr Hill Brewery has a clear, rich golden pour, with light white head leaving behind thin lacing. The smell is that of the lightest honey malts alongside delicate citrus notes, crackers, and hops. The taste is not far, with crisp crackers, honey malt, and a light citrus bitterness. Medium bodied, lightly carbonated, with a dry, persistent finish.