The Birth of a Hippo. The Birth of a Beer.

Written by Tyler Hooley

She came. She swam. She conquered the hearts of Cincinnati! Fiona Fever didn’t just catch on in Cincinnati but spread across the globe. People followed her story of survival and fell in love with the teeny little premature hippo born in our very own backyard. Born on January 24th, 2017, Fiona was the first Nile Hippopotamus born at the Cincinnati Zoo in the last 75 years. With the average hippo birth weight falling between 55 and 120 pounds, Fiona clocked in at just 29 pounds at birth. And as teams from the Cincinnati Zoo and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital worked closely to ensure that the six-week premature hippo became stable, we all watched in anticipation – cheering her on!  

Located just a few miles from the Cincinnati Zoo and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Listermann Brewing Company’s Taproom was often frequented by employees of both companies, many of which worked directly in providing support and care to Fiona. The Listermann Crew often received first-hand updates of Fiona’s progress over a post-work pint. And one day, at the Dana Ave. Taproom, over a few pints of beer, the question was asked, “How can we help with Fiona?”. The answer to that question is now delicious hazy IPA history. Team Fiona was born.

The Listermann Crew worked to conceptualize the Team Fiona beer and landed on a New England IPA for the project. New England IPAs, named for their region of origin, are an approachable and popular style due to their lack of bitterness – a perfect choice for the masses. Late addition hops and less bittering hops are the secret to that super juicy flavor and aroma without the hoppy bitterness. Wanting to do something easily repeatable, the brewers at Listermann landed on Citra and Centennial hops for the first iteration, released on June 10th, 2017. 25% of proceeds were donated directly to the Cincinnati Zoo. Over time, the project has expanded and led to other beers created in Listermann’s Zoo Babies Series.

Fast forward to 2019, it’s almost Fiona’s second birthday and she is weighing in at over 1,000 lbs! Listermann has brewed a number of Team Fiona beers including multiple variants for her First Birthday Bash. What has evolved since that question was first asked back in 2017? A lot. Team Fiona is now brewed and available year-round in Listermann’s taproom, mostly on draft and in crowlers, but more variants are on the horizon. Listermann just released cans of Key Lime Team Fiona on 1/17 in celebration of her second birthday as a continuation of their support for the animals and hard-working staff at the Cincinnati Zoo.

After speaking with Listermann’s General Manager, Jason Brewer, we think there’s much to be excited about Team Fiona and the entire Zoo Babies Series. In the words of Brewer “The fun thing with the Cincinnati Zoo is that there’s always something happening. Who knows what’s in store for our partnership in 2019, but I’m very much looking forward to it!”

Want to get in on the Team Fiona action? Cappy’s is partnering with Listermann to throw a birthday party for Fiona on Thursday, 1/24. We’ll be tapping a keg of Team Fiona, along with a special Strawberry Rhubarb Team Fiona that our friends at Listermann made just for us. We’ll have more on tap for the occasion from Listermann and will also be partaking in some #PhilanthropicBeerDrinking! We’re raffling off three gift baskets with 100% of raffle ticket sales going directly to The Cincinnati Zoo. Raffle tickets are $1 each and will be sold all day on Fiona’s second birthday, 1/24, with a drawing at 9 o’clock. You could win:

  • $50 gift certificate to Cincy Shirts and a Fiona plush
  • $50 gift certificate to Cappy’s Wine and Spirits and a Cappy’s Teku glass
  • Listermann Brewery Swag Bag