Many beer aficionados search after specialty craft beers as do wine lovers search after fine wines.
This Saturday, beer connoisseurs from all over Tampa Bay will flock to Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo to sample 275 diverse kinds of beer from 70 different worldwide breweries at its 18th annual WaZoo Beer Fest.
About 4,000 fellow beer lovers are expected to attend the event.
Lynn Davis, founder and publisher of The Beer Connoisseur magazine based in Atlanta, GA, and an event sponsor for WaZoo Beer Fest, said, "We love beer festivals! They are happy occasions. Good beer, good people and good conversation. And in most cases good music and good food. What better way to escape the day to day grind than socializing with peers and stimulating the senses in an uplifting and positive environment."
The WaZoo Beer Fest will focus on a wide variety of brews, from lagers, porters, stouts, droughts, browns and pilsners, to ambers, wheats, ales and ciders, all made from international and independent brewers.
"What we love most about beer is there is a world of beer to discover. There exists a seemingly endless number of flavors to try, stories to tell and experiences to share," said Davis.
When asked if he had any special or favorite beer to recommend at the beer fest, Davis said, "We haven't seen the beer list yet, but you certainly can't go wrong with Cigar City Brewing. A number of their beers have scored highly in our magazine, and they are in high demand here in Atlanta, Ga."
Adding to the festivities, several Florida bands will perform a variety of genres of music. Headliner One Mile Final will play a mix of rock, hip-hop and blues, with guest singer Cutty Jones, specializing in contemporary and classic hits. Also performing will be Impulse with their festive reggae tunes, the blues band Kim Harpo and The Hawks, the rock band Mainstreet Band, folk music from Between Bluffs and acoustic sounds coming from The Ben Bryan Band.
And local restaurants will be offering small bites and samples of their menus at the festival.
The beer festival runs from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Lowry Park Zoo, located at 1101 W. Sligh Ave. in Tampa, just 1 mile west of I-275 at exit 48. The zoo will close at 3 p.m. in preparation for the event, which takes place rain or shine. Animals will be not be on exhibit during the festival. Attendees must be age 21 to drink alcohol at the festival. IDs will be checked and wristbands issued at the gate. No strollers permitted.
Admission tickets are $80 at the gate.
All proceeds from the beer fest will benefit animal care and education programs at Lowry Park Zoo.
For more information, contact the Lowry Park Zoo at (813) 935-8552, ext. 276, or visit www.lowry parkzoo.com/wazoo.
Heather Francis is a correspondent for Hernando Today. She can be reached at toheatherfrancis@ gmail.com.