Maryland Craft Beer Festival – May 12


On Saturday, May 12th from noon – 6:00pm, visit the Eventplex at the Frederick Fairgrounds to kick-off American Craft Beer Week and Frederick Beer Week with this celebration of Maryland Craft Beer, produced by the Brewer’s Association of Maryland (BAM), a non-profit comprised of the brewers of Maryland.  Up to 20 Maryland breweries will be present with over 80 different beers. The event includes on-site brewing demonstrations, rare bottles and kegs, one of a kind casks and VIP craft beer gifts that will blow your mind! This family-friendly festival features live music, fresh foods, kid’s activities, and local exhibitors.

Tickets to the festival are on sale now.  Admission price: Adults: $17 Advance / $25 at the door; VIP: Advance $32 / $40 at the door; Designated Driver and Youth ages 12-20 $10; Kids under 12 FREE. Regular adult admission includes six tasting tokens and souvenir glass. VIP admission includes ten tasting tokens, a souvenir glass, early entrance for access to rare beers and unique casks, as well as a list of gifts that will make your craft beer friends totally envious!

BREAKING RUMOR: One extremely lucky VIP winner will receive a tasting of a Maryland Brewery Collaboration Beer by Heavy Seas and Barley and Hops brewed solely for this event.  The winner will also receive plenty more awesome prizes – from home-brew classes and supplies to exclusive entry into ACBWeek events, glassware and all sorts of brewery swag.

The last day to purchase tickets at the advance ticket price is May 11th at 9:00pm.  This is not your average beer festival, because it’s put on by the brewers themselves – and we’re breaking out the good stuff!  For more information about the Maryland Craft Beer Festival, visit

Leave a comment to let us know if you’re going. I expect to be there helping man the Frederick Beer Week booth, so stop by and say hello.

Beer News Sampler

A quick collection of beer-related news items that caught our eye recently.

Applying Agile Principles to Brewing a Beer
What happens when you brew beer like you’re developing software?

The Most Ridiculous Beer Names of All Time
The Huffington Post has a photo collage of what they’re calling the most ridiculous beer names. I’ve had quite a few of these, and most of the others are on my to-do list. I don’t know about you, but I think these names are great.

Sam Adams Hopes to Add Prestige with Champagne-style Beer
It’s called Infinium, will come in 750-ml corked bottles with foil, and will retail for $19.99.

Archeologists Link Rise of Civilization and Beer’s Invention
Makes sense to me.

Little beer book a big hit
Graphic designer creates chip-bound book for recording notes for thirty-three beers at a time. Beer geeks around the world rejoice. Guinness even contracts for some with their brand.

This is the Golden Age of Craft Beer
Even if we can’t all agree on the definition of “Craft Beer”.

On the origin of “craft beer”

Not the origin of craft beer itself, but the etymology of the term “craft beer”.

Stan Hieronymous points out that Vince Cottone, way back in 1986 in his Good Beer Guide: Brewers and Pubs of the Pacific Northwest may be the original source…or not.

“I can’t swear I was the ‘first’ to use the term, but I also don’t remember any source I borrowed it from. Possibly CAMRA used it in the UK before me, and in fact I traveled there in 1984 and ’85. If they did use it their usage was probably very casual and I don’t think they made any attempt to define it or promote it as an something like an appellation. I know of no brewing company who used it prior to my book.”

When his book first appeared North America was home to scores of small breweries that opened only since 1980, not hundreds (or eventually more than 1,500). Consider that context. Also, that at the time Cottone wrote for many publications, both within beer trade and outside (such as theSeattle Post-Intelligencer and The Washington Post).

This is worth a read.

Craft beer: the 1986 definition

Beer news sampler

A sixer of news items on beer that we spotted recently.

BBC News: Anheuser-Busch InBev to cut 800 European jobs
That’s about 10% of their European workforce and is ” a response to falling beer sales”. Well, if they made any products I’d want to drink…

Idaho Statesman: It’s been a good decade for craft beer
Patrick Orr talks about some of the gains and newsworthy items in craft beer during the aughts.

Heineken to buy FEMSA beer operations for $5.5 billion
Fomento Económico Mexicano, S.A. de C.V. is the Mexican brewer of Sol, Tecate, and Dos Equis. This deal gives the Dutch giant a larger foothold in the Americas. I don’t expect much innovation here. In fact, I just expect the same old fairly bland mass-produced beer, just produced by fewer companies.

Counterfeit beer in China
Apparently, “fancy” beers like Corona and Budweiser are being substituted with cheaper lagers. Fleeced customers apparently don’t notice.

UK beer drinkers should expect beer prices to go up
Brewing giants InBev and Diageo both cite sluggish economy as the need for the increase.

Mid 18th-Century beer mug may auction for upwards of $100K
“A 268-year-old beer mug that was spirited to Canada during the American Revolution by an iconic Loyalist refugee — Rev. John Stuart, the future founder of the Anglican Church in Upper Canada — hits the auction block this month in the U.S. and is expected to sell for close to $100,000 because of its remarkable provenance.”

Watch City Brewing – Again

This was my second visit to Watch City Brewing in Waltham, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. (My first trip recounts a return trip was warranted.) The bar room was not too busy, but not entirely empty early on for a Monday Night Football evening. I would have liked to stay longer, but it was a long day.

I enjoyed a couple of Hops Explosion IPA’s which were excellent, though maybe not quite up to the level of some of my other favorites; but a fresh brew in a friendly relaxing atmosphere is always better than something from a bottle.

My friend had a German dark lager that he described as “smooth”. He also had a second so he must have enjoyed it.

I had the Cuban sandwich which was just great. But again, the fries steal the show.

Do you think these are wood, or lined with stainless steel? I think another return trip is needed.

Brewers Association Announces 2008 Craft Brewer Sales Numbers (press release)

For Immediate Release

Julia Herz
303.447.0816 x113

Brewers Association Announces 2008 Craft Brewer Sales Numbers

Today’s Beer and Wine Drinkers Moving to Full Flavor Craft Beer and Buying Closer to Home While Small Brewers Gain Alcohol Market Share

Boulder, CO – Monday, February 23, 2009 – The Brewers Association, which tabulates industry growth data for U.S. breweries, announced that today’s small independent craft brewers are gaining alcohol market share due to a shift toward full flavor beer and increased support for local breweries. From 2007 to 2008, estimated sales by craft brewers were up 5.8 percent by volume and 10.5 percent in dollars¹. Overall share of the beer category from craft brewers was 4.0 percent of production and 6.3 percent of retail sales. More than 1 million new barrels of beer were sold in 2008, and close to half of those barrels were beer from craft brewers.

“2008 was a historic year for beer with the large brewers consolidating and imports losing share, while the top ten selling beer brands dropped in sales. At the same time, small independent craft brewers continued to gain share and attention,” said Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association.

Download a high resolution version of this image.

With total U.S. beer being more than a $100 billion industry, the Brewers Association estimates the actual dollar sales from craft brewers in 2008 were $6.34 billion, up from $5.74 billion in 2007. Taxable barrels of the total beer category was 1,210,018 more in 2008 with craft brewers producing 473,364 of those barrels. Total craft brewer barrels for 2008 was 8,596,971, up from 8,123,607 barrels in 2007.

Beer’s popularity as America’s favorite fermented beverage continued in 2008 with Gallup stating “beer is back to a double-digit lead over wine.” Taking into account the challenges in today’s economy, BevincoNielsen released a survey showing beer was faring better than spirits, with wine lagging. The Brewers Association emphasized trading across from wine and spirits to beer continues, with some of today’s wine drinkers discovering the affordable enjoyment and rewards of craft beer.

These increases in share and barrels for craft brewers come at a time when, according to the Brewers Association, the cost of operating a small brewery increased over 39 percent in the period of November 2007 to November 2008. The Brewers Association states that today’s craft brewers face many challenges including:

  • Access to ingredients and raw materials
  • Increased pricing for materials and supplies
  • Access to market (competition for shelf space at the retail level)

For more statistics visit 2008 Craft Beer Industry Statistics. A more extensive analysis will be released April 22 during the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. The Association’s full 2008 industry analysis, which shows regional trends and sales by individual brewery, will be published in the May/June issue of The New Brewer.

¹Sales by craft brewers represent total taxable production. Dollars reported by Information Resources Inc. for total U.S. supermarkets.

The definition of a craft brewer as stated by the Brewers Association: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. Small: Annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition. Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.


Based in Boulder, Colorado, USA, the Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade and education association for American small and independent brewers and the community of beer enthusiasts. Visit the Web site,, to learn more. The association’s activities include events and publishing: World Beer Cup®; Great American Beer Festival sm; Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America®; National Homebrewers Conference; National Homebrew Competition; SAVOR: an American Craft Beer and Food Experience ; American Craft Beer Week; Zymurgy magazine; The New Brewer magazine; and books on beer and brewing. The Brewers Association has an additional membership division of 17,000+ homebrewers:  American Homebrewers Association.

Craft beer is preferred in blind tastings

The “blind taste test” has been around, well, at least as long as any modern marketing gimmick. Remember The Pepsi Challenge?

Recently, Charlie Papazian related the results of three separate blind tastings he conducted in 1999. The results were, in a word, predictable. If you are a beer geek, at least. Locally-brewed craft beer beat industrial-brewed imports by overwhelming margins.

Drink beer with your mouth, not your eyes. Prelude to revisiting “What makes good beer?”

In Arizona 100 beer enthusiasts and their friends and spouses turned up at the Pusch Ridge Brewing Company and Pub. Another beer tasting was held. The results: Sam Adams 42 versus Corona 3; bottled Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 27 versus Bass Ale on draft 19; Guinness on Draft 1 (that is correct, 1) versus Pusch Ridge Old Pueblo Stout 47.

As in all the tastings the beers were all served in glasses without any indication of origin. Brand loyal, die-hard Guinness drinkers were stunned. Bass Ale aficionados would not believe their vote. There were a few Corona drinkers that evening who were no more.

I’m convinced more than ever that I need to get my die-hard-ipa-is-too-rough-Bud-Light-or-nothing neighbor over and have him sample some of the locally-brewed light lagers side-by-side with his preferred libation. I’ll consider it an act of mercy.

Update: Fixed link to Charlie’s article. Sorry about that.