A Wazoo attendee samples one of Sierra Nevada Brewing's offerings at the 2013 Wazoo Beer Fest at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.
A Wazoo attendee samples one of Sierra Nevada Brewing’s offerings at the 18th annual Wazoo Beer Fest at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa on August 3.

By Matt Wiley

Living among the animals for a night may sound like reality TV fare, but on August 3, it truly was reality for the animals on the other side of the glass at the Lowry Park Zoo during the zoo’s 18th annual Wazoo Beer Fest.

Named one of the top 10 beer festivals in the nation by USA Today, Wazoo has become one of the biggest annual fund raisers for Lowry Park Zoo, located on W. Sligh Ave in Central Tampa (call 935-8552 or visit LowryParkZoo.com) — and this year’s event raised more than $150,000 to help the zoo fund and maintain its amazing programs and exhibits. Fund-raising events, along with private donations, are what have kept Tampa’s zoo not only up and running, but also thriving, the past 25 years. Click through to view the bonus gallery…

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Following a quick afternoon rain shower, as opposed to the strong thunderstorm that knocked out power to the entire zoo just before the event began last year, Wazoo 2013 was on for more than 4,000 craft beer enthusiasts.

J.J. Taylor Distributing brought 275 beers from breweries near and far, including Tampa’s own Cigar City Brewing, which held a contest a few weeks prior to the event to name a beer that would be released at Wazoo. “Strawberries Out The Wazoo,” a German lager infused with strawberries, was one of the most memorable of the night, along with Cigar City Cider & Mead’s “Fight the Power” sour apple cider.

Other notable entries included an entire table of suds from Ft. Collins, CO-based and Florida newcomers New Belgium Brewing, most famous for their Fat Tire Amber Ale, as well as their Ranger IPA (India Pale Ale), both of which are making their way onto shelves around the Tampa Bay area, as you’re reading this article.

Escondido, CA’s Stone Brewing Co. didn’t disappoint, either, with their own signature IPA, as well as Ruination and Levitation IPAs, all different takes on the same style. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. came out swinging with some beer not normally found on Florida shelves in the form of their Hoptimum Imperial IPA, a big 10-percent hop-lover’s dream. And, of course, San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing brought its heavy hop hitters West Coast IPA and Hop Head Red.


Beerfest At The Bod

However, Wazoo was not the only beer tasting that has gone down in the Tampa area recently. In fact, Tampa Palms’ own Peabody’s Billiards & Games hosted its own summer beer tasting event on July 27 in the Palms Lounge to a crowd of about 50.

The task for attendees? Try some beer in a “Battle of the Brews” and vote for which beverage they’d most like to see on tap next at Peabody’s.

Contenders included beers from Abita Brewing Co., Bell’s Brewing, Brooklyn Brewery, Dogfish Head and Terrapin Beer Co., but Angry Orchard Hard Cider and Florida Brewing Company’s Key West Sunset Ale reigned victorious and both currently are available on draft.

Did you miss this Battle of the Brews? No worries, as an Oktoberfest edition is on tap for Saturday, October 5, 4 p.m.-7 p.m. and shouldn’t disappoint.

Peabody’s Billiards & Games is located in the Shoppes of Amberly in Tampa Palms. For more info, please visit PeabodysBilliards.com.


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