Five Beers You Must Try at Brew at the Zoo

Miami New Times' Brew at the Zoo returns to Zoo Miami Saturday, May 3. From 8 to 11 p.m., channel your inner party animal as you sample unlimited beer and rock out to the soulful tunes of Mr. Robert Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice (AKA king of the '90s and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's best friend). Of course, there's also food, entertainment, and lots of giveaways -- all within a few (safe) feet of some of the wildest animals known to mankind.

But you're really going for the beer, as the event name implies. With more than 100 beers, ales, shandies, porters, and ciders to choose from, where do you even start? Think of the offerings at Brew at the Zoo like stars in the sky -- some just shine brighter.

With that in mind, we're sharing a list of standout beers to try at Brew at the Zoo, chosen for their characteristics and just plain ol' drinkability. Cheers!

See also: Photos of Brew at the Zoo 2013 at Zoo Miami

Florida Avenue IPA

Cigar City doesn't have the monopoly on Tampa brews, y'all. Florida Avenue Brewing Co. is a brewery founded to create beers designed especially for warm weather drinking -- i.e., Miami! Their IPA (4.7% ABV) is made with American two-row pale malt, malted wheat, and German hallertau and tettnang hops, giving this ale a golden color and a crisp, refreshing finish.

Goose Island 312

This Chicago craft brewery took the strong beer roots of the Midwest and kicked them up a notch to make more than 50 varieties of craft beers. Their 312 (5.4% ABV) is an "urban IPA" made with amarillo, Mt. Hood, and nugget hops. It has a bright golden color and a clean, bitter finish.

Opus Ales

This local brewery doesn't even have a commercial taproom yet, so just about the only way to sample their amazing wares is at Brew at the Zoo. Opus will showcase several brews, including Big Hopper Pale Ale, Imperial Wit Hefeweizen, and IPA. Show some local love by trying them all.

Widmer Upheaval

Hailing from beer-centric Portland, Widmer Brothers carefully crafts a great portfolio of beers. Their Upheaval IPA (7.0% ABV) is brewed with more than two pounds of hops per barrel. This unfiltered beer has a slight haze, but one sip proves that even though Upheaval has a mean first bite of bitterness, it tames up to finish smoothly.

Green Flash Hop Head Red

San Diego-based Green Flash makes some amazing beers, but if you want to get all hopped up, reach for Hop Head Red (7.0% ABV). Columbus, nugget ,and amarillo hops play foil to a caramel malt base, resulting in a big floral nose and a crisp finish.

Tickets to Brew at the Zoo (BATZ) are on sale now. General admission tickets cost $35 through April 6, $40 through May 2, and $50 at the gate (if the event isn't sold out). VIP tickets allow you access to BATZ an hour early (at 7 p.m.) and entry to the VIP area, which features complimentary food and specialty drinks. VIPs pay $75 until May 2 and $80 at the gate. You must be 21 or older to attend BATZ, and the event is rain or shine. For a complete list of beers and to purchase tickets, visit microapp.miaminewtimes.com/zoobrew/2014.

Plus, save your ticket, because you'll be able to get into Zoo Miami free May 5 through 15 simply by showing your BATZ ticket stub at the gate. That stub will also get you a $30 credit for a Zoo Miami annual pass. None of these offers is valid with other discounts or coupons.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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