The Maryland Brewer's Oktoberfest combines tradition with drinking and fun, and the mix leads to an unforgettable way to spend an October day.
The Maryland Brewer’s Oktoberfest is an event surrounded by beer. It’s a beer tasting in which one purchases beer tokens and then uses the tokens as cash to go around to all of the different breweries and taste their beer.
“One beer is 4 ounces and in the state of Maryland you have to do tastings. It’s one of those crazy laws,” said Gray Brooks, the owner of Barley and Hops, one of the breweries represented at the event. “So one token equals one tasting and three tokens equals a beer.”
Barley and Hops is one of the original breweries to participate in this Oktoberfest.
“This is one of our best events each year. We get to introduce our beers to more of a Baltimore-based clientele” said Brooks, whose brewery is located in Frederick, Md. “It’s a good place to showcase all of the Maryland beers.”
Despite the German tradition behind Oktoberfest, the beers showcased at the event are not German. Instead, they represent local breweries such as Barley and Hops, The Brewer’s Art, Fordham Brewing Company, Clipper City Brewing Company, DuClaw Brewing Company and more. All of the breweries present are members of the Brewer’s Association of Maryland.
Brooks supports the idea of holding an Oktoberfest that is full of local breweries.
"In Maryland we think so much about wineries, but the beers, I mean, there are so many different breweries here,” he said.
Brooks said that his own favorite Barley and Hops beer is the Pale Ale, but during the fall the Oktoberfest brew is brewery's best seller.
Here is a full list of the names and locations of the breweries that are part of this event.
While it is true that Oktoberfest is an event focused on beer, you don’t have to be a beer lover, or even a beer drinker to attend. Even children can enjoy the music and contests that take place on two stages throughout the weekend. This year’s Maryland Brewer’s Oktoberfest featured music from local bands, as well as the German Edelweiss Band.
“We’ve been around for 36 years,” said Brian Priebe, a member of the Edelweiss Band. “We’ve been here several times. We play at Oktoberfests all over the region, and this is one of the best.”
Throughout the festival, The Edelweiss Band played German, Austrian and Swiss music, as well as some American jazz and popular songs that Germans like.
“When you go to Oktoberfest in Bavaria, you hear all kinds of American music,” said Priebe. “Three years ago ‘Country Rose Take Me Home’ was the most popular tune over there.”
The stages also hold contests such as the “Baltimore Best Beer Belly” competition and the “Miss Oktoberfest” contest.
“We just tried to incorporate something fun and we started doing it a couple of years ago. It seemed to go over well. Both of the contests are fun for all of the attendees,” said Alicia Woodward, who works for Moorea Marketing. Moorea Marketing helps to produce the event every year.
Woodward herself was born in Baltimore, and she sees Oktoberfest as way to impact the community.
“The Maryland Brewer’s Oktoberfest gets the Brewer's Association's name out there. There are a lot of great breweries in Maryland that get sort of overlooked because of some of the powerhouse beers, you know, the big companies. There are some great brewing institutions here,” she said. “This festival helps people to become aware that brewing is a craft. It supports a lot of jobs in the area. The more people that are aware and are patrons of these establishments, the better it is for the community in general. It’s also just a fun event for people to come out to.”
Despite the fact that the beer at this German event is not German at all, there are many other ways in which the German tradition behind Oktoberfest is incorporated into the Maryland Brewer's Oktoberfest.
This slideshow on the German tradition behind the celebration of Oktoberfest explains how, in their own way, the Brewer's Association of Maryland held on to the German tradition of the event.
Woodward hopes that next year will be an even better Oktoberfest, but until then she is pretty satisfied with the results of the event.
“Our turnout is bigger then ever, but we are always trying to incorporate something new to keep people coming back.”