One of my all-time favorite things about living in Tucson is the Reid Park Zoo. The wife and I go there at least twice a year, when the weather is awesome, not only to support it but to check in with some of our four legged friends. Me hailing from the bay area in California, I am a bit partial to the otters. But seeing Nandi, the baby elephant, grow up is also fun to watch. Pretty soon she will have a brother or sister, one coming in 2020! As are the giraffes, bears, capybaras, tigers and the lions (when they are awake). For a few bucks it is the perfect way to spend a few hours in the afternoon. I mean, c'mon...its a zoo!
Another factor for my love of Tucson, outside of the food, is our expanding craft beer culture. As a food writer I am lucky to attend lots of tastings and events, even getting to know and be friends with some of the brewers. So when I got the invitation to attend a beer event at the Reid Park Zoo, all I could do is squeal in happy anticipation.
Brew at the Zoo happened on Saturday June 15th from 6:30pm-9:30 pm, just as the sun went down and the shady meadows of the zoo cooled down a relatively hot day. The event helped fund the zoo's educational programs and by the look of the attending crowd, I sure hope they brought in enough capital to fund them for the next few years.
Entering the zoo, we were really happy to see most of the nocturnal animals out, such as the lions, but seeing as it was still pretty warm they were just lamping on their tiered wood hangout and not doing much. in fact, most creatures were awake and putting on a show, so that was fun to see. But, okay, the animals we've seen. Now lets get down to the real crux of the evening:
Brew at the Zoo featured twenty-two (22!!!) breweries this year and we couldn't wait to get started. Our first stop was with our friends at Ten 55. Without asking, they filled up the silicone 6oz cup everyone got at the front entrance. I guess I wasn't really paying attention, but when I turned to see who I cut in front of, it was then I noticed a line at least 50 people deep. Minimum. Wow. Ten 55 is great and it was cool to see that the response for them was that wide.
Making our way around the zoo to the other vendors, including Thunder Canyon, Sentinal Peak, SanTan, Pueblo Vida, Mother Road, Huss Brewing, Harbottle, Green Feet, Grand Canyon Brewing Company, Dragoon, Dillinger, Copper Mine, Copper Brothel, Catalina, Button, Borderlands, Barrio, 12West and 1912 along with Booch Craft, which is a high alcohol kombucha, it became very obvious very quick that each brewery had a line just as long. Holy moley! I mean, it was great to see so many people coming out and supporting the zoo but, man, waiting at least 20-30 minutes for a 6oz pour of beer? Uhhh...
A good buddy at one of the breweries told me that he had never worked so hard. Just pouring beer. For about 4 hours. And that is saying a lot because he does a lot of events here in Tucson and abroad.
Now and then I would see a line that wasn't too bad, got my fill, drink it, then ponder standing in another line for another 6oz taste.
As it got darker, the crowd thickened and my wife and friends, along with me, decided to call it. One line literally wrapped all the way around the Tanzania Experience elephant enclosure, summoning at least a 30-45 minute wait.
Writing this blog post I feel as if I am being ungrateful, which is the complete opposite. Thank you thank you thank you Reid Park Zoo for allowing me to come in, take shots and give my love and support to you and your educational outreach. I love you guys and will see you in the autumn when we can cruise around with the animals while sipping hot chocolate. But as a guy dealing with weird social anxiety, I just couldn't do the lines. So I'll have to enjoy the beers at home or at my favorite craft beer bar or even in the tasting rooms at the featured breweries!
Cheers to all of the visiting and local breweries that killed it that night. You kids put your nose to the stone and made everyone feel welcome and happy, even if it took a while to get there.
And thank you once again Reid Park Zoo for letting me come and experience Brew at the Zoo. Hopefully by the amount of paying customers there, and there were a lot!, you secured some funding for your programs. Congratulations.
And now some photos.
Check it out...
|Wow...great turn out|
|The first (and almost last) beer of the night, for me anyway|
|Big Sherm puttin' in work|
|I thought the line started here...ah, no|
|Rewarding folks for their patience...with beer!|
|As the sun went down, the crowd went up|
|Its a beautiful night for cold craft beer|
|One of my favorite IPAs...it was worth the wait|
|Most people didn't seem to mind the queues|
|Thanks Reid Park Zoo!|
Camera, Typing and Very Grateful for the Invitation
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
A Beautiful Pre Summer Night, 2019