Eat + Drink

Loosen Your Belt for a Good Cause at Tampa’s Food and Beer Fests

Boogie down to live music while chowing down on BBQ and Beer at Tampa’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival. (Photo: Courtesy of Beer, Bourbon & BBQ, Trigger Agency)

When is a food and beer fest more than just an excuse to overindulge? When the event benefits a worthy cause. These three Tampa festivals support deserving organizations while giving you the chance to sample local grub and brews in fun settings.

Get Wild, Tampa Style

Release your inner party animal at WaZoo Beer Fest at Lowry Park Zoo, held each August. Choose from more than 275 brews while you listen to local bands play reggae and hip hop.

If you prefer cider, sample Cigar City Brewing‘s refreshing watermelon or crisp Somersby pear. More than a dozen local eateries, such as Big Momma’s Smokehouse BBQ and James Joyce Irish Pub & Eatery, provide finger food for the festival.

End your night with decadent “dessert” beers like Rouge’s Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale.

For early entry and access to Safari Lounge, the only air-conditioned venue, purchase tickets to “Beastly Beverage Club” VIP experience.

Food Festival in Tampa

If you’re looking for Tampa events during the winter months, check out the annual Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in February.

Fill your souvenir glass with samples of more than 60 beers in such flavors as Wells Banana Bread. If you prefer bourbon, choose from 40 varieties, including High West Whiskey Campfire, which blends honey and peat smoke flavors. Pulled pork and brisket provide a tasty complement to the brews.

Expand your bourbon knowledge in the Tasting Theater, where “Whiskey Professor” and author Bernie Lubbers tells you about the evolution of Kentucky bourbon.

Outside, watch attendees compete for Tampa’s Best Beer Belly. VIP tickets give you an extra two hours of sampling, along with a selection of gourmet bacon dishes to savor.

Part of an East Coast beer fest series, the event benefits Virginia-based Spirit of Hope Children’s Foundation, which offers support and educational opportunities to people with disabilities.

Explore the Science of Fun at a Tampa Beer Fest

Creative Loafing Beer Fest
Attendees interact with exact exhibits and enjoy drinks at Creative Loafing Beer Fest (Photo: Nick Cardello).

Another August Tampa event featuring craft brews is Creative Loafing Beer Fest. Spaced throughout the venue are booths offering more than 90 local and national craft beers.

Whether you prefer dark porter or Belgian-style white ale, you can find a beverage to please your palate. A portion of the event’s proceeds goes to Humane Society of Tampa Bay.