Berlin Council Supports Brewery’s Special Event Plans

BERLIN — Burley Oak Brewery is looking to to partner with town businesses to provide four different weekend festivals aimed at attracting craft beer devotees to Berlin.

“The craft beer demographic is one that we like to have in town because they like to spend money,” said Burley owner Bryan Brushmiller. “We’ve seen it work well for us. So we decided to do four events that would bring this demographic to town.”

The festivals would be staggered quarterly, taking place once every two or three months. All would involve outside space and live entertainment.

“These four events will be a beer release, a festival, all basically depending on what time of year it is to bring people to Berlin,” Brushmiller told the Mayor and Council on Monday.

Specifically, two of the four events would be limited bottle release parties where special batches of Burley Oak brews would be bottled and only available to those who attend the festival. The other two would be more general “Maryland music and Maryland beer” celebrations, according to Brushmiller.

Though clearly marketed toward the craft brew crowd, Brushmiller explained that he has an ambitious goal with the quarterly festivals aimed at promoting Berlin and all of its businesses.

“I would love to see it become a huge economic driver for the town,” he said.

Any interested restaurants or eateries in town will have the option to participate in the fests where they would be able to set up food stations. It’s a win-win, according to Brushmiller, since restaurants will be able to make money while he will be able to offer visitors a wide variety of food to go with Burley’s beer. Because the festivals are all scheduled for Saturdays, Brushmiller expects plenty of guests to make a weekend of the trip, arriving in Berlin on Friday and staying through Sunday.

To facilitate this, he has reached out to the hotel community in town, with Waystead Inn and Atlantic Hotel agreeing to offer a 10-percent discount during festival nights. But it’s not just the typical hotel and restaurant sector that Brushmiller hopes to bring on board with the upcoming Burley fests.

“Everybody is welcome to participate. We’d really like it if we showcased everybody,” he said. “Of course, we’d also like people to go in town after the event and before the event.”

All vendors in Berlin would be welcome and even those who decide not to participate should benefit from the expected influx of people to the town, noted Brushmiller. To not step on the town’s toes, the three dates for the fests in 2013, April 20, June 29 and Sept. 28, are scheduled away from any existing events. The fourth event is expected to take place in January 2014 and wasn’t approved by the council with this year’s list, though Brushmiller has said he hopes the events will become multi-year.

The council was generally supportive of Brushmiller’s attempts to bring business to town throughout the year, though there were some space worries. Parking is tricky, admitted Brushmiller, especially since much of his lot will be set aside for music, vendors and an outside crowd. However, he has already contacted a number of nearby businesses that will be closed on Saturdays and have agreed to loan Burley parking lot space.

Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing explained to the council that his department will not know if there are parking issues until people actually arrive. However, he promised that the police won’t let anything get out of hand.

“Again, we can’t predict how many people are going to be there but where people will park is where we’re going to be,” he said. “If we see any issues, we’ll go ahead and be able to take care of them right away.”

Councilmember Paula Lynch was troubled by approving three dates for 2013 simultaneously and asked that it be done on a case-by-case basis. A lump approval, responded Brushmiller, is much simpler especially since Burley Oak still has to meet with the Board of License Commissioners (BLC) next month for final approval for outside events.

Just because three events are approved now, said town attorney Dave Gaskill, doesn’t mean the council can’t drop their support if the first event is problematic.

The council voted 4-1, with Lynch opposed, to approval the three festival dates in 2013, with final approval dependent on the BLC.

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