AKRON  One can only imagine what the animals thought June 9, when hundreds of humans converged upon the Akron Zoo once more for the most recent Brew at the Zoo, as the 80s Night theme brought back one of the most colorful eras in human history.

"I love the 80s and I love the zoo, and like to support it," said John Marks, of Canal Fulton, whose throwback attire was almost jarring in its hair-metal authenticity.

"I’m an 80s guy," he laughed. "I already had the clothes."

Brew at the Zoo events are designed to bring together zoo visitors and area breweries and brew pubs in a uniquely wild environment.

"We came to Christmas in July two years ago, but this one is more bad ass," said Kristin Cole, of New Philadelphia, who pulled off quite the convincing Guns-n-Roses’ Axl Rose to her husband, Matt Cole’s, combination Slash and … something ... ensemble.

"It started out as a Captain Hook costume," he explained.

Kristin Cole said the couple enjoys sampling selections from the wide variety of area breweries and the backdrop of the zoo makes the atmosphere for it all the better.

Broader goal

While Brews at the Zoo events do make money, David Barnhardt, director of marketing for the zoo, said the growing craft brewing trend has, perhaps more importantly, helped attract visitors to the zoo who may not have otherwise made the trip.

"This is our fourth year and we have up to four events each year," Barnhardt said, "It’s been getting very popular; we see young people to seniors."

The season opening 80s Night featured 10 brew pubs and breweries and the July 14 Christmas in July Brew at the Zoo has 13 on tap – so to speak.

The Christmas in July Brew at the Zoo will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the zoo, 505 Euclid Ave., and attendees are also encouraged to dress in their holiday best, or wear an ugly sweater.

"I’m not sure if it is a trend around the country or just in Northeast Ohio, but when we started four years ago, it didn’t seem as big," Barnhardt said. "We also have two wineries, which is new this year, so we will see how it goes."

Along with 80s Night and Christmas in July, Brew at the Zoo themes this year will include a football tailgate party in August and a Halloween costume party in October.

Blast from the past

The 80s Night theme came about quite organically, Barnhardt said.

"We just thought it would be fun, and we have a DJ spinning 80s music all night," he said, adding with a laugh. "I’m just surprised at the number of people who dressed up."

For more information on upcoming Brew at the Zoo events, visit www.akronzoo.org.