good beer festival blackboard

Happy birthday from the Good Beer Festival

The Good Beer Festival falls without error on my birthday weekend, and I never get tired of flattering myself that it is no accident. They serve “As much beer as you can drink responsibly” which, I think, inhibits rather than encourages excessive drinking (although, in the interest of full disclosure, I still never have driven home from one). The lack of a beer cap takes the pressure off. People are encouraged to try beers far and wide. More important, they have the chance to enjoy one another’s company and, as corny as it may sound, make new friends.

The event is six hours long, which is a very long time to drink two-ounce-beer after two-ounce-beer, and there are a dizzying number of beers. The trick for me, is to burn through a couple of new ones, taste some old favorites and hang around, starting conversations with strangers while trying not to be “that guy.” I’m “that guy” probably more often than I’d like to admit, but I try not to be too cordial.

This is the fourth (I think) of what will be a number of beer events for me this fall. My job writing about beer and culture means I go to these both as an enthusiast and as a beneficiary. That is, I get work because more people want to know about the local craft beer scene than can make it to each individual brewery. That’s generally been one of the attractions of the Good Beer Festival each year: the Local Beer Garden. In a perfect world, it provides people the opportunity to hang out with the brewers and get insight into the beers they are serving.

Meeting with the brewers

Such as they can provide it.

The brewers are happy to take the time, and look forward themselves to answering questions, but on a day like Saturday, the madness is nearly impenetrable. One of the things the Good Beer Festival does really well is getting the brewers to talk about their beer. Brewing professionally is nearly inextricably linked with home brewing, so the talks tend to focus on the process and practice of brewing a specific beer or two that the brewery does really well, accompanied by a tasting of those beers.

Over the course of the two day festival each local brewer commits to giving a talk, and they all do an excellent job with it.

Getting to know local beers and breweries

I like to think of it as a macro look at micro brews because it sounds bumper-stickery. It really primed me for me next big event, Shore Craft Beer Fest, which is later this month. I’m starting to think of it as a micro look at micro breweries. The event features exclusively local beers, which means everyone there and pouring beer will be knowledgable about what they’re pouring. I’ll be writing more about this event in the coming days, but I wanted to mention it because the Good Beer Festival reminded me about how much fun I was going to continue to have this fall.

All the big beers are coming out, now. I got to try a bunch at the Good Beer Festival. Many of them I’d had already, but the whetted my appetite for beers I might have forgotten I liked.

Tony Russo
Author: Tony Russo

Tony Russo has worked as a print and digital journalist for the better part of the 21st century, writing for and editing regional weeklies and dailies before joining the team that produces and among other destination websites. In addition to having documented everything from zoning changes to art movements on the Delmarva Peninsula, Tony has written two books on beer for the History Press. Eastern Shore Beer was published in 2014 and Delaware Beer in 2016. He lives in Delmar, Md. with his wife Kelly and the only of his four daughters who hasn't moved out. Together they keep their two dogs comfortable.

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