As the pages of the calendar turn, and I get older, there are very few things that I do in my life that my five year old self would give me a high five for. You see, the high five is the greatest honor that a five year old boy can bestow upon a grown-up; it is tantamount to The Nobel Peace Prize in the adult world. This weekend I had the opportunity to attend an event that would make my former self happier than Martha Stewart was upon finding out about Paula Deen’s recent indiscretions, which allowed Ms. Stewart to no longer be most hated food celebrity in all the land. The event that I am referring to was none other than the Brew at the Zoo, which was held at the Turtle Back Zoo on June 29, 2013.
First off I feel I should explain to everyone who is reading this article what exactly the Brew at the Zoo is all about. I don’t know exactly how this fantastic idea was formulated but I imagine it went something like this. Some genius, the caliber of Einstein, Newton, and Cooper, yes Sheldon, and no I don’t care that he is fictional, was sitting alone in his home drinking a perfectly chilled craft beer while watching Nat Geo on his very large 3D television. It may have been all the thinking this intellectual was doing, or it could have been the drinking, but he slowly began to nod off. That is until; he was jarred from his slumber by a gigantic life-like 3D grizzly bear standing in the middle of his living room, causing Genius Mc. Drinksalot to soil himself and his Barcalounger. After cleaning himself off, he thought to himself that there is nothing more exhilarating than drinking with animals, and thus The Brew at the Zoo was created. Alright that story was completely made up and has no bearing in reality but every story needs a beginning so I used some creative license.
This event, which celebrated the Turtle Back Zoo’s 50th anniversary, featured 25 notable Breweries serving more than 50 wonderfully tasty craft beers from all of the country. These brewers were scattered throughout the zoo itself allowing the patrons of this event to literally party with the animals while they sampled these delightful libations. I, along with the other guests were afforded the opportunity to taste hand crafted beers from the following breweries Weyerbacher, Brewery Ommegang, Kane Brewing, Founders Brewing, Cricket Hill Brewery, Climax Brewing , Carton Brewing, Captain Lawrence Brewing, Brooklyn Brewery, Butternuts Beer & Ale, Yards Brewing, River Horse, East Coast Beer Co., Victory Brewing, High Point Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Samuel Adams, Lagunitas Brewing, Ithaca Beer Co, Gaslight Brewery, Firestone Brewing, Brouweij Boon, Bolero Snort Brewery, Boaks, Rodenbach, Palm Breweries, 16 Mile Brewing, Angry Orchard, Crispin, Leinenkugel, Traveler Beer, Harpoon Brewery, Blue Point, Steven’s Point Brewery, and Blue Moon.
During the course of attempting to sample each and every one of these exceptional beers, the guests of this event were able to experience some of the exhibits the Turtle Back Zoo has to offer. A few of the majestic creatures that I got to drink with were Gibbons, Alligators, Otters, Tortoises, Snakes, and even the always overdressed African Penguins. To add to these outdoor exhibits the zoo also allowed visitors to enter the Touch Tank exhibit and pet the stingrays, which only got better as we visited more and more beer tables.
As the late great Billy Mays would say, but wait there’s more, The Brew at the Zoo was not only full of awe-inspiring animals and delicious beer. That is right, if the amount of shear awesomness at this event was not off the charts already; The Brew at the Zoo had more incredible tricks up its sleeve. Peppered throughout the park were food vendors serving alcohol absorbing edibles to all those who were in need. The Jerky Hut was handing out free samples as well as selling their salty and meatastic treats, The Gaslight Brewery and Restaurant were dishing out Moinks, meatballs wrapped in bacon, and Chicken wings, while The Cloverleaf Tavern was manning the gazebo spreading good cheer one amazing BBQ Pork Slider at a time.
The Devil Gourmet was even on scene supplying all the designated drivers with something sweet and refreshing to wet their whistle with while their counterparts drank themselves into a stupor. These non-alcoholic summer punches were an absolute hit with all the guests, even the ones that needed a short break from all the adult beverages they were imbibing during this event. The punches that were available courtesy of The Devil Gourmet included The Devil’s Not So Sinful Planter’s Punch, The Devil’s Arnie Palmer, Pucker Punch, and Sham-pagne. All the recipes for these fantastic virgin cocktails can be found on the Devil Gourmet’s website.
Adding to the Allure of the Devil Gourmet’s table were the tantalizing and sinfully decadent donut holes that were freshly made specifically for this event by the Montclair Bread Company. As word spread about these amazing fried balls of dough complete with a glaze made with Cricket Hill’s scrumptious Jersey Summer Breakfast Ale, they were devoured quicker than Artie Lang rocking a Ho-Ho.
To top it all off if eating, drinking, and being merry was not enough to make your evening enjoyable, The Brynn Stanley Jazz Band and The Wag performed throughout the event. The upbeat and lively performances by these local New Jersey artists gave the perfect excuse to relax a moment in the sun and enjoy your craft beer in style.
Whether you attended this event for the craft beer, the mouthwatering food, the delightful music, or the awesome animals, The Brew at the Zoo did not disappoint. Furthermore, a portion of the proceeds was donated directly back to the Zoo itself to help them continue their quest to educate and entertain the New Jersians that frequent this remarkable Zoo. Thanks to the tremendous people at the Garden State Brewfest and The Turtle Back Zoo that threw this wild shin dig, my five year old self would like to offer each and every one of you that attended this event the only honor that is higher than a high five, a double high five!