So…I think I’m a craft-beer-aholic with a writing problem…. I’m excited about next week. 3915918900_4f180cedbc

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I am very much looking forward to sitting in on the Beer Steward program being run by the Master Brewer’s Association of America. Well, that, and the Craft Beer Conference. Brewers from all over the United states will be descending on the Mid-Atlantic region to talk just about every aspect of brewing you could imagine – from the shallow to the sublime, they will be talking all things beer. And I will be happy to sit there and listen. And in less than one week, we will have one week full of beer.

Meanwhile, Frederick is developing into an interesting microcosm of the craft beer industry – rapid growth, utilization of local ingredients, bars stocking more and more of the small brewers. It’s quite a lovely thing to watch. Hell. When I started covering the craft beer industry back in 2006, Frederick played host to long-timers Barley and Hops, Brewer’s Alley, and Flying Dog had just moved into the state. Since then, Frederick County has added hop farms, a barley farmer, Frey’s Brewing Company, The Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm, and Monocacy Brewing Company – oh, and Mad Science Brewing Company is trying to get its doors opened this year.

The really incredible thing about Maryland beer is that the following breweries also entered the Maryland brewing scene since I started covering it in ’07; Evolution, The Ruddy Duck, Eastern Shore Brewing Company, Tall Tales Brewing Company, Fin City Brewing Company, Ruhlman Brewing, Baying Hound Alewerks, Scorpion Brewing Company, Burley Oak Brewing Company, Shorebilly, and Antietam Brewing Company. Well…those are the ones I can think of. But that’s really an aside.

Next week is the Craft Brewer’s Conference in DC (along with the Master Brewer’s Association of America’s Beer Steward Program and the DC Beerfest this upcoming weekend), and brewers from all across the country will be descending upon the Mid-Atlantic.

The fact that next week’s brew-a-palooza kicks off with a beer festival in DC is totally coincidental, said organizer Dan Silberstein. Silberstein added that he had ideally wanted to schedule the inaugural DC Beerfest for April, but the scheduling for the National’s stadium just didn’t work out. What should work out, according to the veteran festival organizer, is the fact that attendees should expect reasonable waits for the beers (there will be close to 80 tents and over 160 different beers are expected to be poured).

Silberstein, who has been involved in organizing festivals all over the country, is hoping that the DC event is only the beginning of his foray into the Mid-Atlantic. “I’d like to do one in Baltimore,” he said. “”Bring [a festival] to the Raven’s stadium, or Camden Yards.”

Last I heard, tickets for the Saturday sessions have sold out, but tickets were still available for Sunday.

Tapped and Uncapped

I like road tripping in part because the road trips often give me access to beers that are difficult to impossible to acquire here in Maryland. Fortunately, in some cases, access to some of these beers is as simple as crossing state lines. One of the beers that I have recently had the pleasure to sample has been the Hop Explosion from Fegley’s up in Pennsylvania (and a short trip up the road into Pennsylvania will give you access to this one). This one will make the hop-heads out there happy. Bitter and beautiful, this is a really enjoyable example of an American-style IPA – and if you live near the PA border, than there’s no excuse for you to not have a case of this sitting around the house.

Until next week, be well and drink good beer.