Lions and Tigers and Beers, Oh My

Craft Beer Zoo


Despite living only a stone’s throw away, I had never visited the Los Angeles Zoo that is, until Brews at the Zoo this past Friday night.

Being the beer geek that I am and having been to many a brew fest, I was trepidatious at first because the zoo may know wild animals but do they know beer? But after scanning the list of participating breweries my hopes were raised. Cismontane, Strand and Eagle Rock were in attendance so someone at the zoo had been paying attention to our craft beer scene.

And of course their ace in the hole or groundhog in the hole was the scenery. Most beery events aren’t in such idyllic locales. And even with many an exhibit under construction, there were enough elephants and ‘gators to gaze upon to the point where you forgot you were at a beer festival.

But the large crowd was certainly there for not only big giraffes but also big flavorful beers and there are a few that got my attention. Pepin the Short from Inland Empire Brewing was my first sample and it was a well done porter with some zippy hop notes at the end. I look forward to trying more of their beers when I see them in the LA area. Another winner was the Alpha Red from Noble Aleworks in Anaheim. Like Inland Empire, another brewery that I had never tasted before this night. The alpha red was well balanced. Not a hop bomb like some can get and it had a nice reddish hue to it.

My winner of the night though was my final beer, the Blue House IPA from El Segundo Brewing. Sharp and bitter with notes of citrus that really exploded on my palate. It was so good that I tried it again on Saturday when I saw it on tap.

To improve this already well done event, I would add a liberal amount of water stations and also put one or more of the food vendors near the entrance so that people will be more likely to eat first and last. But those are minor quibbles compared to the fact that this was well run from entrance to exit.

For the craft Beer of the Week, I suggest the 15th anniversary ale from Stone. Stone has really been ramping up the special releases of late so it is almost too hard not to recommend them every week! This brew is named Escondidian Imperial Black IPA. A subtle jab at the minor controversy surrounding the naming of what is commonly called a Black IPA but that a vocal group in the NW want to name Cascadian Dark Ale. Whatever the name, expect a big, hoppy offering from Stone balanced by some nuanced hop choices like the wine-esque Nelson Sauvin and the new Pacific Jade hop.

This week’s Homework is to order the book The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance which is co-authored by craft beer advocate and Sriracha expert Randy Clemens. Not only will you learn the arrogant history (up to now) of Stone Brewing you will also benefit from the recipe expertise of their world bistro. Now if only the LA Zoo could have a gargoyle exhibit.

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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