WaZoo Beer Fest, Lowry Park Zoo‘s annual beer festival and fundraiser, greeted Tampa beer lovers with a seemingly endless array of beers, great food, live entertainment, and more this past Saturday.
Despite the early downpour that left many scrambling for shelter before the general admission gates opened, WaZoo went on to do what it does best year-in and year-out, provide both a wildly fun time and a richly diverse beer tasting experience for all those in attendance. Even with a small power outage (at no fault of the zoo’s) thousands ate, drank, and reveled through the night until TECO restored the power around 9:30 just in time for a rocking headlining set from One Mile Final on the World of Beer Main Stage.
Over 80 breweries, hailing from just a couple minutes away to halfway across the planet, were in attendance pouring over 280 different types of beer for the sampling. For even the mildy beer-curious, WaZoo worked as a hoppy utopia with breweries offering everything from bold IPAs to a jalapeno-tinged brew that exercised and excited the palate.
When it came to the best, a panel of seasoned judges were on hand to sample all of the beers and hand out the coveted Best in Show award. This year, the Steenbrugge Abbey Tripel, a Belgian ale from Latis Imports, took the top prize followed by a Franziskaner Hefe Weisse (wheat beer) from Spaten North America in second and a Spaten Dunkel (German style beer) also from Spaten North America in third.
Overall, the 2012 WaZoo Beer Fest brought in over 4,000 guests while raising over $150,000 for the non-profit Lowry Park Zoo, a figure that exceeded its organizers projections. Way to go, Tampa. Drinking beer like champs, braving the storm, and helping out a pillar of our community all at the same time; not bad, not bad at all.