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May 19, 2009

Baltimore Beer Week: What do you want to see?

beerweek.jpg

After using his photos for several Name That Bar contests, I finally snookered Alexander D. Mitchell IV into writing me a few blog posts. Here is the first one:

Hello there. Alexander Mitchell here, Baltimore columnist for Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and blogger at www.beerinbaltimore.blogspot.com.

As some of you may have already read here and elsewhere, plans are in the works for Baltimore Beer Week, October 8-18th (yes, that's ten days--are you complaining?).

Those of us planning the events are wondering: What do YOU want to see for such a week? ...

Some things are already set in stone: The two keystone events are the Brewers Association of Md. Oktoberfest at the Timonium fairgrounds on Oct. 10 and the Society for Preservation of Beers from the Wood's Chesapeake Real Ale Festival down at the Pratt Street Ale House on Oct. 17. Certain bars, breweries, and distributors are already making plans for such things as beer dinners, "meet the brewer" nights, special beers brewed especially for the week, and other such promotions.

Some personal projects of mine:

  • A "blind tasting" of Irish stouts where one could sample Guinness, Murphy's, O-Hara's, Beamish (if we can still get it by then or stash a keg or two), and a "ringer" stout brewed in Maryland or close by -- and not find out which is which until you pick your favorite.
  • A banquet featuring as many of the "pioneers" of the Maryland craft-beer renaissance as we could find and get to come (Hugh Sisson, folks from British/Oxford, Wild Goose-Cambridge, Baltimore Brewing Co., etc.), and let them reminisce in front of microphones and pints.
  • A "history of Baltimore beer" tour, either via bus or self-guided with a website/handout.
  • And, of course, a Scottish beer tasting. (As well as German, Belgian, Australian, Californian, etc. at appropriate venues.)

But what do you, the readers of Sam Sessa, want to see?

It's too easy for beer geeks to conjure up beer events by beer geeks for beer geeks, but beer geeks are only a small proportion of the beer audience. Nobody connected with BBW is going to condone, for example, a beer-chugging contest, but for all I know there's a Beer-Pong league just waiting for a tournament. Ditto a Natty Boh fan club.

"Beer in Art" at some art gallery? Orioles against the Brewers? A beer-chili cookoff? A Bud-Miller-Coors taste-off?

I'll take any and all suggestions, serious and frivolous. The too-frivolous will be forgotten; the not-so-frivolous may actually happen.

Help us make it happen!


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Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Comments

discounted beer dinners ala restaurant week, where you get beer with a 3 course meal for $20-$30 at participating restaurants, featuring Maryland beers.

Some pretty cool ideas!

In the line of Scottish beer tasting, perhaps a Mid-Atlantic pale and hoppy type tasting event involving PA/MD/VA/DE/NJ/lower NY pale ales, bitters, ESB's, IPA's, etc. to showcase local stuff in a popular genre.

Wrapping up with the SPBW event is a great idea, maybe mix in a intro to cask conditioned beer event as well early in the week. Very quietly, a ton of local establishments have added beer engines so people are clearly drinking them but I think people don't always know what to make of them, the concept is simple but sometimes an official explanation goes a long way towards appreciation and expansion of that kind of product especially if given its own dedicated event.

Plus it fits the local theme, this area's really become a boom town for cask beer, might as well advertise it.

Is there any way that you could have a vegetarian/vegan beer dinner somewhere? I always want to go to these things, but it seems like every course on the menu has some sort of meat in it.

Other ideas:
-Vintage Barley Wine tasting: taste several years worth of some brand of barley wine to see what difference aging has made.
-Weird beers! Tastings of beers with strange ingredients in them.
-Homebrewing demonstrations, and/or "cooking with beer" classes.

Beer in Art is a fun idea. Maybe some industrious film student could put together a movie real of famous beer scenes in film? Or a librarian could find great beers of literature (like Daisy and Tom Buchanan's post-hit-and-run beer and chicken dinner)?

I like to play around in the kitchen, so it would be nice to see some chefs that could do beer cuisine. Not just pairings, but using beer in food, like for chili or fancier preparations.

Beer in Art is a fun idea. Maybe some industrious film student could put together a movie real of famous beer scenes in film? Or a librarian could find great beers of literature (like Daisy and Tom Buchanan's post-hit-and-run beer and chicken dinner)?

I like to play around in the kitchen, so it would be nice to see some chefs that could do beer cuisine. Not just pairings, but using beer in food, like for chili or fancier preparations.

Jason Z: That's the plan at many places that already know about good beer (Ale Mary's, Mahaffey's, Hamilton Tavern, etc.). The key will be to see if we have beer dinners at places that don't normally do beer dinners--Morton's, Prime Rib, Ruth Chris, Brass Elephant, Alonso's, An Poitin Stil, Japanese restaurants, etc. That will probably be dependent upon brewery participation. It also couldn't hurt for people like you to drop suggestions to your favorite restaurants.......

I would hardly say "a ton" of local establishments have added beer engines--maybe a couple pounds' worth. But the points on cask beer are valid and should be considered. Maybe a grass-roots advocacy/sales movement by SPBW?

I all but guarantee you a vegetarian beer dinner or three somewhere. A couple of the local beer activists/sales guys--and my wife--happen to be vegetarian, or at least vegetarian-friendly/sympathetic. I heard One World Cafe got some beer lines in. Maybe Metropolitan and Grand Cru?

Beer dinners with suggested pairings. Replacing prix fixe wine dinners for the week.
"Courses" on what food to pair with popular dinners.
Using beer in cooking- beer utilized in a tasting menu at a resto
Not sure if this falls under your drinking game mention, but all who showed up to the Oskar Blues tasting during Philly Beer Week contributed to the creation of a gigantic "beeramid" until it ended.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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