Earlier this month, brewers all over the state joined Gov. Larry Hogan in Annapolis to kickoff FeBREWary the best way they know how—by raising a glass.
The toast marked the beginning of Maryland Craft Beer Lovers Month, the governor’s official declaration geared toward highlighting local beer’s effects on tourism, commerce, and innovation. (Fittingly, Baltimore also chose its February issue to celebrate local breweries.)
“It’s huge for the industry,” says Kevin Atticks, executive director of the Brewers Association of Maryland (BAM). “The governor’s support acknowledges just how great of an impact our breweries have. It’s nice to see that the state has caught on.”
Now in its second year, the month-long celebration is returning with dozens of participating breweries featuring limited releases, special tours, and collaborative events. For BAM’s signature festival this weekend, more than 25 local facilities will come together to spotlight their top-selling seasonals.
“The goal is to showcase heavier beers that are a little more complex,” Atticks says. “We host a lot of events in the summer where our customers are swimming in pilsners, IPAs, and lighter-style beers. So, with this one, we’re looking forward to highlighting some more porters, stouts, and cask ales.”
The festival, dubbed “Love Thy Beer,” will take place at the Silver Spring Civic Center on Friday, February 17 from 7-10 p.m. In addition to sampling sips (think everything from Diamondback Brewing Company’s new coffee stout to a robust porter from Milkhouse Brewery in Mt. Airy) and chatting with local makers, guests will enjoy live blues music and chow down on eats from Mission BBQ.
A special pre-reception starting at 6 p.m. will feature submissions linked to BAM’s “Cupid’s Curse” challenge, which tasked brewers with creating an outside-of-the-box recipe in honor of this month’s festivities. Breweries were told to keep their concoctions completely secret until the governor’s toast, but, other than that, there were no parameters.
“It was our own little nod to Fight Club,” Atticks quips. “But the goal was to get people to do something interesting, whether they were to triple-hop something, riff off of a current beer, or create a new beer entirely.”
Other FeBREWary happenings set for this weekend include the annual Belgian Beer Fest at Max’s Taphouse and a Brew Valley Beer Walk in Hampden featuring lunch at Birotecca, a demo at Nepenthe Homebrew, and an exclusive tour of Union Craft Brewing. Local businesses will continue to partake in the promotion with various beer dinners, pint nights, and tap takeovers scheduled through the end of month.
Atticks says that, above all, the events are a great opportunity for Maryland brewers to unite: “The most fascinating time of an event is the hour before it opens,” he says. “After the brewers are all set up and they have a few minutes of down time to talk shop. It’s great to see them all hanging out in the same room.”