OCEAN CITY — Craft beer fans will be able to watch some of the most popular local brewers compete on April 20 at the first-ever Battle of the Brewers Springtoberfest at Fager’s Island in Ocean City.
Featuring five local microbreweries including Dogfish Head, Evolution Craft Brewing, Heavy Seas, Flying Dog and Union Craft Brewing, Springtoberfest is a chance for craft beer fans and fanatics to interact with the people behind their favorite beverages.
“What we’re trying to do with the event is just incorporate some knowledge and have the customers be a little more interactive with the representatives there,” said Fager’s bartender Marcos Lopez. “And for the representatives there it’s a different way to market their product. It makes it more personal.”
The competitive portion of the event will include four categories: Best IPA (Indian Pale Ale), Best Spring Seasonal, Best Mystery Beer and Best Brewer. With the IPA category, Lopez said that most micro brewers tend to have pale ale as their “signature” beer because of the complexity of the drink and the distinct flavor. Spring seasonal was included because the event is meant to pay homage to Octoberfest, which focuses on autumn and winter beers.
By hosting the party in April, Fager’s will be able to throw a classic German-style festival while taking advantage of the start of visitor’s season in Ocean City.
“Spring is just a nice time, too, because seasonal people are just excited to get back down to the beach so hopefully we’ll get some great weather next weekend,” Lopez said.
The Mystery Beer category is one of the more unique challenges involving a blind taste test. Drinkers don’t know what kind of beer they’re sampling, which will expose them to new brews that might have otherwise escaped their attention or intimidated them at the bar.
“You might be trying a beer that you never would buy in the store … it should broaden their horizons to go out there and try something new,” said Lopez.
While there is an overall Best Brewer category and associated bragging rights for the year, Lopez classified the competition as entirely good-natured and not taken too seriously.
“It is a tight-knit community. The competitive aspect is just for fun because we want to make the people who come in feel more involved and add a little more excitement,” he said. “It’s just more of a fun rivalry.”
In a way all of the brewers are winning by taking part in Springtoberfest, Lopez continued, because the entire event will serve to promote craft brewing on Delmarva.
“We feel like we have a lot of really good beers right here and we’re kind of tucked away down here on the Eastern Shore,” he said. “People know about it but don’t always venture down here. But you see more and more people are coming from different areas a little further north and some actually from down south.”
Lopez remarked on the growing craft beer culture not just locally but nationally, comparing micro brews reputation in America to the same way some wines are associated with Europe.
“Beer is becoming like the United States’ wine. Like wine in Italy where they incorporate it in all of their food and here we’re trying to do that now,” he said.
Battle of the Brewers will hopefully grow from this year to include more breweries, beers, and more space. The event will take place on April 20 from 1-5 p.m. Tickets will cost $35 in advance and $40 at the door and include a special tasting glass, all-you-can drink beer samples, all-you-can-eat German food and music by The Bullbuckers. Tickets are available at www.fagers.com, or by calling 410-524-5500.