On the morning of June 30, a small crowd gathered in front of the Campo Gorilla Reserve at the Los Angeles Zoo, waiting with bated breath. Animal Keeper Tania Prebble had laid out a variety of grains, fruits, and vegetables, any of which could be used as an ingredient in a special L.A. Zoo Brew. Soon, Hasani the western lowland gorilla would make his way into the exhibit from his nighttime quarters and pick his favorites, which would serve as the basis for the unique beer’s recipe.
Paying particular attention was Brian Herbertson, the brewmaster at Simmzy’s Burbank. Were Hasani were to select avocado, its oil could combat foam retention during brewing. If Hasani made a beeline for the banana leaves or celery, the resulting beer could be more astringent, tasting of microgreens or arugula. As soon as he saw the bounty of options, Hasani’s selections were swift, and seemed to display a sweeter palate.
“Hasani chose rolled oats, pilsner malt, and oranges, which I think will all come together to make a nice, unique Belgian blond ale with a citrus flavor,” said Herbertson. “The oats will give it a creamy mouthfeel and better body, and the pilsner base malt will give it some fruity notes.” Not only is Hasani, part of a six-member troop of critically endangered gorillas cared for at the Los Angeles Zoo, a partner in the development of the beer, he also serves as a muse of sorts. “Since Hasani seems to love his fruit so much, we thought we’d use the yeast that would have some pear and stone fruit notes to complement the oranges and the base malt.”
Hasani and Herbertson’s beer will be express brewed, going from grain to glass in time to be poured at Brew at the L.A. Zoo on August 4.