March 29, 2009

Baltimore Beer Week

What are we to make of it?

Its several months out but I have a certain giddiness in that I think there will be something very innocent about it. Other major cities have quite professionally done beer weeks and have years of training in it. This is just my impression but Baltimore/Maryland is much more decentralized so things are going to happen more organically and through the energies of the organizers at least the first go-round.

In other words there's plenty of room for creativity and making of mistakes.

I haven't taken a look at how other cities have done things, but most probably go by a calendar week of seven days so our not-so-seven-day event is already unique and bold in its oddness. We're already the city of 'Hon, so we might as well play off that oddness as the less-noticed major city/metropolitan area of the Eastern seaboard --- darn you Boston, New York City and Philadelphia.

Something that came to mind, and this is just playing off my own interests, a Belgian beer event. Pull together the expertise at Max's, plus the distributorship that's here, plus some excellent bottle shops and I think there's one Belgian restaurant down in southern Maryland near D.C. (Le Mannequin Pis or something like that?), sprinkle in the writings and knowhow of our own Chuck Cook, and maybe we're onto something. Lectures? An "Intro to Belgian Beer" event discussing styles and background (the masters event is at Max's every February, natch), invite travel companies to offer packages, something along those lines.

I'd love to see a Howard County event too. A beer crawl is next to impossible beyond the increasingly good downtown Ellicott City area, but maybe each day there can be a theme and two or three featured Howard County establishments to direct beer drinkers towards.

Or in the early days feature a different area of the state for each day. Give some love to Frederick and the western reaches of the state, and the next day highlight parts north and east of downtown (Grand Cru is a hidden gem!), then point to southern Maryland, then Annapolis and the Chesapeake/shore areas and points beyond, then Howard County.

Finally, wrap things up with some big party at participating locations either around the state or downtown (Fells Point, Canton, Federal Hill). The unintended goodness might just be a new level of awareness of just how much there is out there for great beer, and cooperation between unlikely areas to share promotion. What I mean by that is, for example whenever I travel to San Diego I always pick up a few copies of this bright green pamphlet by the San Diego Brewers Guild.

In theory the Guild is in the business of promoting and linking the breweries (of which there are many) but in reality the pamphlet serves a different function. It lists breweries, but also some other places around town that simply do great beer (think the equivalent of Max's or Frisco Grille), and places them on a large county map, all in a simple pamphlet.

Its simple and well-executed and easy to share and lets readers divine their own plans based on where they are or where they want to be. Meanwhile, the bulk of the craft beer community there gets linked so while someone may be looking for say, the massive Stone Brewing Company on there, their eyes will wander and see Green Flash or Oggi's Pizza or O'Brien's pub. Rising tide lifts all. That can be done here and send a message to those in the state and parts beyond, we mean business as a beer community.

Those are what crosses my mind at the moment, and I'm guessing with the collective wisdom of many of the organizers they've already crossed theirs so this is probably redundant to them but I thought I'd offer some public input and invite yours as well.

1 comment:

BaltimoreMan said...

The only problem with a Belgium event would be Max's has its event. I don't know if they would be open to sharing something that they have built. Good idea, I would be there and support the idea, but I just think it would be hard to get Max's to pair with others for a Belgium fest, when they pack their place for a weekend with their Belgium Fest.