I am a beer novice. I like to buy good beer but I don’t know much about it. I do know that craft beer usually cost more and usually tastes better than the big boys. Having been a terrible biology student (and having shed my desire for 30 packs), I wanted to attend the Maryland Craft Beer Festival with more of a thirst for unique beer, than knowledge.
My goal for this festival was to try new things and taste a variety of craft beers. I attended the festival with my two roommates with the goal of sampling as many craft beers as we could. Here’s what we learned:
1. It’s a “dog drink dog” world out there. We sampled many brew-pubs and microbreweries that didn’t have a national presence. One of the most interesting batches we sampled all day was from the Pub Dog Breweryin Westminster, Maryland. The drafts we sampled were the Blue Corn Tripel, Raspberry Dog, and the Brown Dog. The warmer day beckoned for lighter, smoother beers and these fit the bill. I felt like I should be on my back porch sipping these beers with good friends. It’s too bad these guys don’t sell outside of Maryland.
We also stopped by the Flying Dog tent. Peter tried the Pearl Oyster Stout. That surprised me because it wasn’t a dog related name (as Flying Dog usually does). All profits from the batch of Pearl Oyster Stout go to saving Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. Drinking to support a charity is something I can get behind.
2. Difference can be delicious. The Ruddy Duck Brewery out of Solomon’s Island, MD whipped up some interesting stuff. I have a deep fascination with quinoa so I had to try their Bier Noveu, which is gluten free, brewed with quinoa, Sorghum, and honey. I pride myself on having an adventurous pallet. Ruddy Duck did not disappoint and it’s a beer I would try again.
3. Maryland’s beer culture runs deep. Each brewer carried a distinct “flavor”. Heavy Seas was giving out free eye patches and were also selling Baltimore Orioles themed shirts. Flying Dog Brewery displayed their Hunter S. Thompson style proudly. The profits from the festival went to the Brewers Association of Maryland (which supports micro-breweries in the state). I’ve been trying to eat locally and I’m more than happy to drink locally as well.
4. This was the place to be adventurous. I usually go for IPA’s and hoppier beers. However, I promised myself that I would venture away from “the usual.” I sampled some darker beers that were pretty good: Flying Dog Oyster Stout, Oliver Breweries Bishops Indulgence, and the Heavy Seas Plank II Dopplebock. I don’t think I would purchase any of them in a six pack, but I could see myself cuddling up with some of them in the middle of winter.
5. Stay classy, please. Barley and Hops brewpub, you’re officially on notice. I was not happy with your drunk pourer who was making patrons do stupid things for their drink. I was here to sample, not binge drink and make a fool of myself.
6. Warm beer? I’ve grown up with the rule that beer must be cold. Not so for the Baltimore-Washington Beer Works, whose specialty is the Raven Special Lager. Peter and I tried the cold and warm brew of the Raven. To my surprise, I enjoyed the warm style. It was smooth, tangy, and went down easy.
It’s refreshing to drink classy and local. I am glad I ventured outside of my normal drinking habits as well. Did I learn anything new about brewing? Not really. However, I was outside on a nice day and broke bread (err…sipped it) with good friends. That’s what a day of drinking should be about.
Nick is the editor in chief over at midwestbias.com. A site devoted to appreciating the goofiness, inexplicable love, and quirky issues of sports. Follow him on Twitter @nickhansenMN