Beer geeks are, whether they know it or not, social activists. Do you enjoy drinking at your hometown brewery? You’re supporting small businesses. Do you like fresh-hopped beers? You’re supporting local farmers. Have you ever enjoyed a Silverback Pale Ale from Wynkoop? You’re raising money for gorilla conservation. You don’t have to boast nasty-ass dreadlocks, carry a clipboard, and hassle people on the street to create a positive impact; you just need to drink good beer. Perhaps the best example of the intermingling of craft beer and social consciousness is Denver Zoo’s Brew at the Zoo which celebrated its 15th anniversary last Friday.
While attendees enjoyed the wares from 31 breweries, two cider houses, and 15 local restaurants, they were also, by purchasing their tickets, raising money for The Red Apple Scholarship Fund which helps people of all economic backgrounds experience the zoo’s residents through educational programs. Drinking beer, checking out some some cool animals, and bringing the joy of nature to the financially disadvantaged—that’s my good deed for the day.
For all the acts of kindness that come as a result of Brew at the Zoo, the main reason anybody attends is to party and have a debaucherous good time. A few highlights from the event:
- I was happy to see a wide variety of breweries in attendance. There were corporate giants (MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch), long-established craft brewers (Oskar Blues Brewery, Great Divide Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing, et al), and the very small and very new craft brewers (Big Choice Brewing, River North Brewery, Lone Tree Brewing Co., et al). The zoo can promote biodiversity, I’m just happy to see brewery diversity.
- Scattered throughout the event were zookeepers who interacted with guests while carrying small, less-than-lethal beasts. I met Short Stack, a pancake tortoise, as well as an owl that I was told could easily carry off your cat if it were so inclined. For some reason, there was a keeper with an opossum. What? You ran out of animals at the zoo and had to grab whatever was rooting around the dumpster out back? But, hey, it’s important to protect all animals, not just the cute, cuddly ones.
- For additional entertainment, guests could play giant Jenga, dance at the silent disco, rock out to live music, or take a picture in the photo booth.
- The new Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit was open to the public. There, I saw one of my favorite animals: fruit bats! Those things are so rad. I wanted to hold one but that would have been frowned upon. What was especially interesting was that the clouded leopards were on the prowl. One of the zookeepers said this was only the second time he’s seen them so that was a rare treat.
Be proud, beer geeks, because every time you do what you love you create positive change; you’re a hero when you drink craft beer. Events like Brew at the Zoo just do more to make the correlation obvious.