09 October 2012

Events BEFORE Baltimore Beer Week: Md. Oktoberfest, DuClaw Beer Dinners, International Arms Race

Yes, Baltimore Beer Week is coming up starting October 19th, and lots of folks had best be resting up their livers and/or bank accounts for the occasion.  But a few events are coming up before then.

The Great American Beer Festival.  If we have to explain, you really shouldn't be reading this.  But it's in Denver this upcoming weekend, which will explain the absence of quite a few brewers and representatives at:

The Brewers Association of Md. Oktoberfest at the Timonium Fairgrounds this Saturday.  This show, along with the annual Springfest in Frederick, has typically been the "one-stop tasting" festival that allows attendees to sample the best from virtually every brewery in Maryland (amazingly, at least one brewery manages to not show for whatever reason--Rock Bottom of Bethesda and Gordon Biersch of Rockville, being outlets of chains, are not BAM members; Baying Hound of Rockville and the still-embryonic Fin City of West Ocean City are also not listed).  New for this year are Frisco Tap House/Push Craft, Ruhlman, Evolution (now a Maryland brewery again), Union Craft Brewing, and the Baltimore-area debut of Burley Oak, founded by Essex native Bryan Brushmiller.  Whether you're a newcomer to craft beer or a long-time veteran of the scene, this festival becomes a must-attend, no matter the weather.

(The GABF is also the reason Baltimore Beer Week has been pushed back a week this year--too many of the participating beer industry people have either a business need to be out there, or just love it that much.)

The International Arms Race Face-Off, Mid-Atlantic Tour, will be appearing at events in central Maryland just before BBW.  In the "race," brewers James Watt of Scotland's maverick BrewDog Brewery and Matt Brophy of Maryland's Flying Dog Ales produced variations of an India Pale Ale with Zero Hops.  That's right, a no-hop IPA.  To cite Flying Dog's highly irreverent publicity:
At the end of March, Flying Dog and BrewDog decided on the terms of their combative collaboration. Hops were banned from the battlefield, but after 84 hours of negotiation, a host of other weapons to impart bitterness – spearmint, bay leaves, rosemary, juniper berries, and elderflower – were agreed on. Then, it was decided that each brewery would craft it’s own version of the beer, which highlights the human element of the brewing process and does not require the Flying Dog staff to socialize with any Scots.
“Collaboration was never an option,” Brophy said. “It’s a long word that takes entirely too long to type. So, we challenged BrewDog to a battle of the brewing arts and they accepted. Now, it’s time to face off.”
A "taste-off" competition at five pubs in the U.K. resulted in Brophy/Flying Dog's version barely winning; the competition is irreverently described in unflattering detail here at FD's website.

I've sampled the FD version and await a chance at the BrewDog version; you can share at the following locations, at which both Brophy and BrewDog Captain James Watt will be appearing:
Monday 10/15 at Max's Taphouse in Baltimore
Tuesday 10/16 at RFD in DC
Wednesday 10/17 at Frisco Taphouse in Columbia
Each of the Zero IBU IPAs will be on tap and unlabeled for attendees to taste blind and vote on their favorite. Matt and James will be on hand all night and the results will be announced at the end of each event.  A supply of the beer is also promised for the Liam Flynn's Ale House No-Hop Gruit Competition on Oct. 20th at the North Avenue pub of that name. More information (irreverent, as always) here.

The Beer In Baltimore Editorial Team is tempted to don both a kilt and a Wild Goose shirt for the occasion. 

Meanwhile, DuClaw is marketing a five-course beer dinner for $65 at its Bel Air location on the 17th and the Bowie location on Nov. 7th; the Arundel Mills dinner during BBW is already sold out.

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