In most cities, the frequency of orange clothing, props and other goods—including beer and beer packaging—signals the beginning of fall. Baltimore’s a little different, since our oaths of Orioles loyalty practically make orange attire acceptable all year. The new season gives Baltimoreans plenty of reasons to celebrate. That includes the arrival of new brews, often inspired by German Oktoberfest, and many festivals to celebrate them. The recent loss of Baltimore Beer Week can’t stop Free State libation celebrations.
So skip the Starbucks latte that you know overstayed its welcome, seize the remaining daylight and enjoy the scene at the following 10 Oktoberfests/Octoberfests/variations on fall beer festivals next month:
Guinness Oktoberfest Weekend
The most famous brewery in Greater Baltimore naturally planned a huge Oktoberfest. Guinness Oktoberfest Weekend promises to make the Halethorpe brewery’s massive grounds feel a little like Bavaria for three days. The festivities feature big pretzels, live music and two brand-new German beers: the Munich Dunkel and Festbier. Those who come to this free weekend and like it enough to return for more Oktoberfest fun can do so two weeks later, at a special four-course dinner. 11 a.m. (noon on Friday)-10 p.m. (9 p.m. on Sunday), Oct. 4-6 at Guinness Open Gate, 5001 Washington Blvd., Halethorpe. Free. guinnessbrewerybaltimore.com. 443-575-6893.
Stein Day or Lagerbier Fest 2019
Call it Stein Day or Lagerbier Fest 2019, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Diamondback Brewing Company keg-conditioned all of the lagers they’ve made, as well as the recently debuted Zlaty pilsner, and will tap them all at this party, according to co-founder Tom Foster. Enjoy these local takes on quintessential central European beers with meats from John Brown General and Butchery and Snake Hill, along with the Locust Point brewery’s own house-made pretzels. Take them outside to the patio and rock to local bluegrass and folk artists like D.T. Huber. Noon-8 p.m. Oct. 5 at Diamondback Brewing Company, 1215 E. Fort Ave. #008. $7.50-$30. diamondbackbeer.com. 443-388-9626.
Hops & Harvest Festival
If you’ve never wandered through Columbia’s green spaces except to see a Merriweather Post Pavilion show, then the Hops & Harvest Festival offers a great opportunity. Tickets get you unlimited tastings of over two dozen local breweries and distilleries’ products, as well as live music from Miss Moon Rising and other area acts. Sample food from regional favorites like Homeslyce Pizza and Goganics organic food. Noon-5 p.m. Oct. 5 at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, 10431 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. $15-$50. hopsandharvestfest.com.
One of Baltimore’s newest acclaimed breweries comes into its Ocktoberfest own with Mobtoberfest. Dave Carpenter, the head brewer at Mobtown Brewing Company, said both a Mobtoberfest Marzen and Schwarzbier will be released at this block party. If this standout beer house’s take on traditional German styles doesn’t get you going, maybe the milk stout they plan to tap will. Come for the beers, stay for Oktoberfest-inspired foods from The Rolling Grill Pit Beef and commemorative half-liter beer steins. Noon-6 p.m. Oct. 5 at Mobtown Brewing Company, 4015 Foster Ave., Suite 400. Free-$25. mobtownbrewing.com. 410-727-5483.
Havre de Grace Oktoberfest
Like the Waterfront Festival and Art Show, the Havre de Grace Oktoberfest showcases one of the namesake town’s most undervalued assets: its prime location along the water. Attendees of this fifth annual festival, which is organized by the city itself, can enjoy German foods, beers, crafts and music with a stellar view of the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. It may have a French name, but this October, Havre de Grace will feel entirely German. Noon-7 p.m. Oct. 12 at Frank J. Hutchins Memorial Park, 121 St. John St., Havre de Grace. Free admission, with food and alcohol available for purchase. explorehavredegrace.com. 410-638-3570.
Annapolis Harvest Brew Festival
A vibrant, if overlooked, brewing scene thrives within walking distance of the the state legislature. See it for yourself at the Annapolis Harvest Brew Festival, where eight local breweries (including host Chesapeake Brewing Company) offer unlimited samples for the price of admission. With oysters, crab cakes and beers galore, expect a far more exciting afternoon than anything the General Assembly can deliver. Maybe. 2-6 p.m. Oct. 13 at Chesapeake Brewing Company, 114 West Street, Annapolis. $40. chesbrewco.com. 410-268-0000.
Any beer festival can turn participants into wild animals. Only OktoBEARfest gives participants the chance to safely meet actual wild animals. This year’s festival, like the signature Maryland Zoo party’s past seven iterations, offers live music and local foods to accompany the over 70 beers and ciders on tap. It also introduces a crucial new feature: the option to bring your beer inside the zoo grounds. In addition, zoo events director Collen Burch confirmed that The Brewer’s Art will tap several kegs of their Penguin Pils, which they brewed for the zoo. You’ve never experienced the Maryland Wilderness like this. Noon-5 p.m. Oct. 19 at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, 1 Safari Place (Druid Hill Park). $29-$69. marylandzoo.org. 410-396-7102.
Octoberfest Block Party featuring the Salem Brew Trials
Don’t be intimidated by the church setting or name: Octoberfest Block Party featuring the Salem Brew Trials. This fundraiser for the Salem Lutheran Church in South Baltimore, welcomes people of all backgrounds. To that end, the church will unveil its new non-denominational meeting center, the Riverside Third Space, and offer beers from homebrewer congregants. Unlike some of the other festivals, this one is totally community focused and open to families. As for the aforementioned “trials,” that’s for attendees to judge the best homebrewed beers on tap—no witch hunt in sight. Noon-4 p.m. Oct. 20 at Riverside Third Space, 1530 Battery Ave. $0-$15. eventbrite.com. 410-576-0487.
Hops 2 Grapes
Harford County’s beer world often sits in the shadow of better-known ones in Baltimore City, Howard, Montgomery and Baltimore counties. Hops 2 Grapes aims to change all of that. Organizer Philip McGuire said that this festival, the first of a hopeful annual one, will showcase some of the farm-based operations, like Independent Brewing Company and Falling Branch Brewery, and local vineyards and distillers that thrive and grow in Harford County. Grab a drink from one of those or any of the other local craft alcohol producers serving. Later, sway to the sounds of rocker Tim Williams before voting for your favorite of the 30 custom Jeep Wranglers on display. You might not be a farmer, but you’ll embrace Harford County’s agricultural vibe before the day’s through. 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Equestrian Center of Harford County, 608 North Tollgate Road, Bel Air. $15-$60. hops2grapes.com.
Sure, you could probably bring your dog to the park and drink a beer there. But where can you take your pup on a 5K run, into a beer garden with bands and raise money for the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter at the same time? Only at BARCStoberfest. Not just for dog owners, this fundraiser party offers athletes and degenerates alike a chance to try many local brews, meet some canine companions and support one of the region’s leading animal service organizations. Who knows? Maybe you can take a dog home. But make sure they don’t belong to someone else first. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 26 at Patterson Park, near intersection of S. Patterson Park Ave. and Lombard St. $40. barcstoberfest.org.
Honorable mentions: Fall beer festivals, like Halloween decorations, spill beyond the borders of October. Here are just a few of the major beer fest coming to the area in November:
- Baltimore Craft Beer Festival, the Brewers Association of Maryland’s biggest local event. Noon-5 p.m. Nov. 2 at Canton Waterfront Park, 3001 Boston St. $15-$60. baltimorecraftbeerfestival.com
- OyFest, Union Craft Brewing’s sixth annual collaboration with The Local Oyster seafood restaurant. Noon-5 p.m., Nov. 16 at Union Craft Brewing, 1700 W 41st St. $15-$50. oyfest.com.
- Nepenthe Halloween Party technically takes place in October, but it’s much heavier on boos and costumes (including a costume contest and Halloween-themed drink specials) than leaves and lagers. 7 p.m.-midnight. Oct. 31 at Nepenthe Brewing Company, 3626 Falls Road. $25. nepenthehomebrew.com. 443-438-4846.
Earlier versions of this article included an erroneous date and location. The Sun regrets the errors.