Brewfus stumbles around at the Annapolis Craft Beer & Music Festival

In case you weren't aware from my incessant tweets, Facebook posts, and press releases on the site...I went to the Annapolis Craft Beer and Music Festival last month (9/21) at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. It was an opportunity presented to me from a Mr. Jim Barthold, who runs the event. And I totally jumped at the chance. You see, if there was one thing I learned at BBC13, it was to take chances and force myself out of my comfort zone, and being in public places, is being out of my comfort zone.

This was the second year for the event, and if history was going to be any kind of teacher, most people probably wouldn't have shown up. You see, in 2012, there was a lot of negative feedback from their first outing. Not enough beer, not enough porta potties, not enough of this, not enough of that. They were tore apart on Yelp. Poor guys. But it seems they took it on the chin, and came back in 2013 with their proverbial guns a-blazing.

So, Saturday rolls around, FINALLY, and I get to the stadium to find a parking lot that's probably 1/3rd full. I silently fist pumped, because I hate looking for parking at these events, and at $5 a pop, I was ecstatic to throw them my money, and be able to have my choice of any spot I damn well pleased. it took me less than 3 minutes between getting my tickets, and getting through the entrance gate, commemorative glass in hand. Seriously though, I need a place for all these glasses I have building up. At this point is was still "early," about 11:45 in the morning, and there were probably about...200 people. Maybe. I make straight for Flying Dog and DuClaw and shoot the shit with them for some time before I venture out. At this point its about 12:15, the crowd has grown, but not overwhelmingly so. I take a look at the gate to see there is a line steady growing, and moving quickly. Great news! Makes me happy to see the negative backlash from last year hasn't had an adverse effect.

I start wandering around, getting a feel for land and I'm loving the set up. This whole shindig is in  front of the stadium, in a big grassy field (I'll admit being a bit disappointed at first that we weren't IN the stadium). The breweries line the outside of the event, Music in one corner, porta potties (about 10 on the inside and another 6 on the outside-but those don't count) in the opposite, and food in another. In the center of it all were your obligatory vendors of everything from cheap screen printed shirts, to hand-carved beating (walking) sticks, and everything in-between.

I had hoped the panoramic photos would give you an idea of how everything was set up, and the crowd that continuously poured in during the duration. When I left around 5pm, people were still coming in even though the event ended at 6.

So lets talk about the beer. The fest boasted an impressive number of about 35 different craft breweries (you can view the list here), pouring anywhere from 2 to 4 different beers. That equated to well over 100 different brews available to you at the festival, if you were able to hit each one. At no time did I wait any longer than 5 minuted for a beer. It was refreshing to see the lines move so quickly. A majority of the tents were hosted by the actual brewers, and in some cases, even the owners themselves. Now that is something I just love seeing at these types of events. I'm generally turned off when the people poring our beers are just volunteers with little to no knowledge about exactly what it is they are pouring. Want to know why? Because I LOVE sitting there and talking to the brewers/owners/lackeys about the beer they create until they hate me and want me to leave but are too polite to say anything to me. That's why.

Pretty much everything about this experience was a good thing. If there were any critiques I had, it's the food situation and the porta potties. There was ONE food vendor. The selection wasn't that great, and the line was...well, it was atrocious. If my understanding in my conversations with the event planners were any sign though, the food situation is more to blame on the stadium duds, than the event coordinators. And the bathroom situation? Well, there were 6 outside in the parking lot, but they MUST have been leftover from a football event, because they were full. FULL. And no TP. There were about 10 on the inside, and the line for them was also really long. But really, I've been to a ton of events and I've seen more toilets available, and have seen lines just as long. So there's that.

And then there was this guy.

Oh, there was music too. But I'm going to blatantly honest here, I didn't listen to a single note. But here is where they played:

Cozy, right?

There were also seminars available! One was hosted by my buddy Ben Wiser from Flying Dog about the history of Flying Dog, and the culture of Craft Beer. I got to stand behind him and look cool, and help pack up the beer afterwards. I was all about it. You can check out the full list of seminars that were available here.

If you ate one of these during the seminars, you're welcome.

To wrap this word fort up, this event was a success. The beer was great, and plentiful. The lines moved quickly, and it seemed everyone there was having a genuine good time. Talk about a major turn-around. For being beat down on the Internet after a faulty first year, they really came through for the craft beer drinkers of Maryland and threw one hell of a festival.

You can find out more about he festival on their website and Facebook for next year!

The previous review is in no way influenced by the admission provided to me from the event organizers.