So this past Saturday was the annual Brew at the Zoo  at our local hub for animal viewing, the Louisville Zoo. It was beyond what I would call a perfect day weather wise with temps in the upper 80's and virtually no humidity to be felt. If you weren't there let me paint the scene for you - beautiful blue skies, a nice open field area for sitting, mingling, and relaxing, several large tents filled with brewery reps and volunteers pouring beer and food vendors serving their goods, and a stage with live music. It all sounds pretty good, right? I loved LIBA's Brewfest at the Mellwood Arts Center, but for those of you who were there, you know it was way too crowded (not their fault I know, and a sign of tremendous growth from last year). You also know that waiting in line for a beer felt like waiting in line at a desert oasis waiting for a drink of water before you completely dehydrate.
Brew at the Zoo took all that out of the equation by having such an open environment where people could freely roam that, even though it was sold out, it never felt overly crowded and allowed everyone to be spread out so that I think the longest I waited in line couldn't have been more than 10 or 15 minutes (and that was when everyone was waiting for Schlafly  to tap their keg of Pumpkin Ale  that they had promoted tapping at 7:00 PM). Another thing that I was very pleased with was the amount of food vendors at the event. BBC was there serving pulled pork sandwiches, several places were represented with beer cheese, Za's had pizza (of course), and even White Castle was present with hamburgers and cheeseburgers.
One thing that I was a little disappointed in was the selection of beers represented, and by "selection" I don' t mean quantity, but quality. I almost hate saying that because a lot of my brewery friends were there and I feel like that implies that I don't think their beers are quality, but that's not the direction that I'm going; it could have been a zoo request of what they were to bring with them, but when I go to a beer festival I like to see more "unique" beers that I can't necessarily get every day. Most of the beers that were being served I had already had on multiple occasions. I understand that they can't (and shouldn't) bring a slew of "one off" brews, but I'd like to see them bring at least one to pour alongside their flagship brands. I thought Schlafly did a decent job of this, they poured mostly regular fare, but had a sign up that they were tapping a keg of their seasonal Pumpkin Ale at 7:00 PM. People started getting in line around 6:30 and the closer it got to 7:00 people actually started chanting, "tap that keg, tap that keg!". I would have liked to see some of the other breweries do something to that effect to create a little hype and to give the crowd a little something "extra", especially for the beer snobs who were definitely in attendance.
I was LIVE tweeting from the event and some people replied to me saying that they were a little disappointed that many of the breweries ran out of beer before the end of the event. To that I basically responded that things like that are hard to plan for because even though they know the number of tickets sold, they can't anticipate exactly how much people will or won't drink, or how much waste they may have. In addition, I told people, they'd rather bring too little than too much and have to transport full or half empty kegs back to the distributorship (a half empty keg is basically like throwing money right out the door). I didn't think they did a horrible job of planning though, and didn't run out of beer nearly as quickly as they had a Brewfest.
All in all, a successful event in my opinion and one that I'm looking forward to attending next summer. They can only hope that they luck into the same type of weather because I feel that helped make the Brew at the Zoo easily 25% more enjoyable because people weren't miserable. If you all like this silliness, follow Lville Beer on Facebook , Twitter , and Foursquare , then we can talk all the time like real homies.