2017 Summer Ale Festival (Philadelphia, PA)

The Philadelphia Zoo
3400 Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19104


Review Date: June 24, 2017

The Beer Posse found itself heading over the bridge into Philadelphia to attend the 2017 Summer Ale Festival at the Philadelphia Zoo.  We attended last year, and gave it high marks, so why not try it again!  I was quite pleased to find that they added a VIP option that afforded the ticket-holder an additional hour in the venue.  It was only an additional $15, and I remember quite distinctly that last year we felt the 3 hour admission was just too short.  But after this year’s attendance, I might add that 4 hours seems a little short.  It seems impossible to see all the animals, sample the food trucks, try the various activities available throughout the park, dance to the live music, and taste all the beers available.  So careful planning and compromises are in order.  B3, The Stoutmeister, and I decided to focus on the beer samples, while our dedicated DDs (Designated Drivers) Princess and Nanny Franny would check out all the non-alcoholic venues and activities.

I particularly appreciate that the brewers are spread out over 6 locations within the zoo.  This ensured you weren’t stuck in a mob of people jockeying for available beer samples.  B3, The Stoutmeister and I headed straight to the back of the park and planned to work (hmm, make that drink) our way back to the entrance where hopefully our loyal DDs will claim us from Lost and Found and ensure we are delivered home safely.  Of course along the way we would stop to fill our cups so we would have enough energy to make it to the far side of the park.  The beer offerings did not disappoint!  I can honestly say, I enjoyed every beer, ….  Make that almost every beer that I tasted.  I did find that the Victory Peach Blonde Ale was a little too sweet for my liking.   Of course The Stoutmeister would ramble on about the overabundance of coffee stouts.

We eventually ran into the DDs who had been enjoying all the festival had to offer for the non-drinkers.  They admired the Summer Ale fest ice sculpture, checked out all the animals, talked to the zoo-keepers, posed for funny photos, and even got some complimentary henna tattoos.  B3 suggested that I get a henna tattoo of a beer mug on my cheek.  Ok, as if I didn’t know that henna tattoos would last several WEEKS!  Who does he think he’s kidding!  I hadn’t had nearly enough beer to entertain such an outrageous suggestion,  Face-painting yeah, but henna???  Come on!  We stopped by the food trucks for a quick bite, and I’m told I really liked the Guinness popsicles.  That I will take their word for.  I do remember the tacos, and they were quite tasty as well.  There were quite an impressive number of food trucks, and a very nice assortment of offerings such as crepes, salads, tacos, Brazilian BBQ, pie, pita sandwiches, ice cream, etc.  YUM!

B3 and the DDs wandered off as The Stoutmeister and I headed toward the main entrance which hosted a large tent with loud music and more beer vendors.  So we continued to try out the beer, and joined the crowds in dancing to the band KickBax.  Then we went in search of a place to sit down, and found ourselves near the Philadelphia Zoo hot air balloon where we stuck up interesting and insightful conversations with other beer lovers.  We met up with the rest of The Beer Posse at closing time, and left the Philadelphia Zoo looking forward to next year’s Summer Ale Fest!  (and no..  Even with the extra hour, we were not able to hit every beer vendor in attendance.  Maybe next year!)


Additional Beer Posse Comments:

  • Princess – This is by far my favorite beer fest for the drinker and non-drinker alike.  There was so much to do, that passing 4 hours in the Zoo was easy.  Everyone was friendly and although it was very crowded toward the end, no one appeared drunk or disorderly.
  • Princess – my only complaint this year was that for the DD’s, we were given 1 bottle of water upon entry.  I would have rather had some kind of plastic zoo cup and had watering stations like last year that offered unlimited water and lemonade to the DDs.
  • B3 – Would definitely go back!
  • The Stoutmeister – I finally found dark beer that does not taste like coffee!
  • Nanny Franny – I got my first tattoo!  (henna that is).
  • Nanny Franny – excellent variety of entertainment
  • Pretzel – B3 is evil.  Just sayin’


  • VIP tickets – on $15 more than standard entry, and give you an extra hour.
  • Animals, animals, animals!
  • Free henna tattoos and face painting
  • Nice selection of food trucks
  • evening event, so it’s not under the broiling summer sun
  • great event for Designated Drivers
  • free parking


  • DD tickets a little pricey at $35
  • No event specific merchandise
  • No beer-related vendors
  • DD’s only received 1 bottle of water upon entry


Favorite Beers of the Day:

  • Pretzel – Devil’s Backbone Pear Lager, Rivertowne Hala Kahiki Pineapple Ale
  • The Stoutmeister – Duck-Rabbit Double Bock
  • B3 – Devil’s Backbone Pear Lager and Vienna Lager (it’s a tie!)
  • Princess – water (I am the DD after all and I don’t drink)
  • Nanny Franny – water (I am also a DD)


Websites and Links:


Overall Pretzel Score (8.62 out of 10):  

Final Scorecard (click to open):  PhilaZooSummerAleFest2017

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