Beer geeks love getting it in the can
Beer releases haven’t always been the celebrated thing they currently are in the craft beer scene. When the microbrewery industry was in its infancy back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, most breweries followed a very traditional concept: create a core set of beers, stake out a flagship style, and market to your niche. Fritz Maytag’s Anchor brewing settled on what is known as a steam beer, or a California Common. Boston Beer Company/Samuel Adams carved out one of the largest marketshares with their flagship Boston Lager.
Over the years, craft brewers started to experiment with special release beers. Some of those special releases inspired such ardor among the beer geek followers of these breweries that many of the fans flock to these breweries for special releases. People would camp out in the Carolinas for Foothills Brewing’s Sexual Chocolate Stout. In Tampa, Hunahpu’s Day (the release of an Imperial Stout) has evolved into a ticketed, pay-for-entry event due to the beer’s popularity. By the end of the day, the Hunahpu Stout is gone.
This has become a more and more common thing. Mid-Atlantic breweries including Aslin in Northern Virginia, Cambridge, MD’s RAR, and Berlin’s Burley Oak have all been among those benefiting from what is reported to be a tailgating-like atmosphere for limited beer releases in cans.
People will wake up early and travel to these breweries to get in line as early as 6 a.m. for a beer that might not be going on sale until 11.
By all accounts, it’s a carnival. A beery, beery carnival.
This coming Saturday, Sept. 16, I will be making one of my favorite craft-beer daytrips to Brookeville Beer Farm on the eastern side of Montgomery County to observe one of these releases for the first time.
Actually, it will be firsts for both of us; it’s my first can release, and it’s theirs.
Brookeville Beer Farm is releasing three new beers in cans for the first time ever. At 10 a.m. Saturday, the brewery will premiere their Hop Envy, a New England-style double IPA; Hugelkultur, their Oktoberfest brew; and Mary Ann, a peach cobbler blonde ale.
This will be a new experience for me, watching a brewery sell a limited-run product to some of the Mid-Atlantic’s most fanatical beer geeks. Throughout the day, the brewery will have other attractions for those attending. According to marketing manager Katie Curl, the head brewer, Kenny, will be giving out free beer samples and available to chat about the beers.
For those of you who have been there before, Brookeville will continue to host its weekly farmers market. For those of you who have yet to make it out to Brookeville, the farm has built a beautiful tasting room in the bucolic setting of the small town in Montgomery County’s northwest corner. The farm brewery is part of a growing farm/craft brewing scene in the Mid-Atlantic, and the farm breweries make for great day trips — especially for the beer geek with a family.
Generally family-friendly facilities, farm breweries like Mount Airy’s Milkhouse Brewery and Montgomery County’s Brookeville Beer Farm and Waredaca make for great, scenic day trips with excellent beer and limited menus (although most breweries will let you bring food with you — call ahead just to make sure).
And one last note on the beer release; Curl added that “CAN-SHARE IS ENCOURAGED — we like like to try other beers too. The can-share will take place on the patio. Cans only please.”
In other news, we’re in the heart of the fall festival season. The aforementioned beer release notwithstanding, this is a busy time of year for me and for the brewers. There’s practically a festival every weekend from now until late October: Maryland Microbrewery Festival, Hops & Harvest and the Baltimore Craft Beer Festival are just some of the festivals topping a pretty involved list that doesn’t even cover a myriad of Oktoberfests.
If you’re looking to plan your calendar for this autumn, check out https://beerfests.com/us/maryland-beer-festivals. While the website is by no means comprehensive, it will help you to plan your craft beer Saturdays throughout the fall.
Until next month, be well and drink good beer.