Perhaps because rain cancelled last year’s festival, attendees turned out in full force for the Maryland Microbrewery Festival at the Union Mills Homestead on Saturday.

The line to get into this 14th event stretched down the long driveway and into the field behind the historic complex. Jane Sewell, Homestead executive director, said they were on track to break a record.


While waiting in line, Lisa Gregg of Orlando, Florida, chatted with her sister Missy Hahn and friends. She said she’d accidentally picked the perfect time to visit family. The stein-shaped hat on her head confirmed that she is a beer festival aficionado. It was covered in buttons from the many beer festivals she’s attended.

“My husband was traveling for work, so I met him here,” Gregg said. “We are doing the beer festival today, the Ravens tomorrow and then a girls’ trip to Wildwood, New Jersey. I’m all in for this.”

Her sister smiled, adding that they come annually.

“It used to be small and quaint,” Missy’s husband, Todd Hahn, said.

Inside the gates, Ian Misner gathered with his family and his friend, Eli Johnson, and his family. Between them, there were five children ages 5 to 11.

“It’s a good family atmosphere, the music is good, the kids have a good time and we enjoy trying microbrews from around the area,” Misner said.

With two tents, lawn chairs and blankets on the ground, they’d settled in.

“We try to get a spot close to the stage because we like the live music and we like having the kids able to run around in front of us and dance to the music,” Johnson said. “As long as the kids are good, we are pretty much good to go.”

Tori Meissner and Justin Young were busy pouring beer for Frederick-based Flying Dog Brewery.

“This is our fourth year for Flying Dog Brewery. We brought about four half kegs and six sixtels with us,” she said, explaining that a sixtel is about a sixth of a full keg. “We are switching up the lineup throughout the day, so every time someone comes up, we should have a different kind of beer on tap. A lot of the ones we bring out are not even available on the market yet. It’s kind of nice to do these specialty beers and see how the crowd likes them.”

Down the line at Hagerstown-based Antietam Brewery, Matt Albers joked with customers while pouring beer.

“The turnout is awesome, the crowd is great — number-wise and personality-wise — and the people who run the event do a very good job,” Albers said. “We always love coming back.”

According to Albers, their crowd favorite is Otto’s Orchard, a sweet raspberry ale made with all-natural raspberry puree. Sure enough, the next customer in line requested Otto’s Orchard.

“It’s very good,” Hella Metzler said. “It’s sweet and you can really taste the raspberry.”


Metzler said she comes to the festival annually.

“I love all the different beers, the feeling of community, and everybody just being together and having a good time,” she said.

Ron and Karen Schilling were doing just that, while trying the butterfly potatoes.

“These have Old Bay on them, but you can get them with bacon and cheddar or salt and vinegar,” Ron said. “They’re good.”

Tom Schuman sliced a chunk of beef to cook for Westminster-based Kountry Kafe & Catering. At this event, he said, they sell on average 65 dozen sandwiches, both pit beef and turkey.

“I typically sell about 400 pounds of pit beef and 150 pounds of turkey, plus about 10 gallons of Maryland crab soup,” Schuman said. “But, at 90 degrees [Saturday], I don’t expect to sell as much soup.”

With vendors, entertainment on stage all day, and food galore, people shopped, gathered at tables, or stood in line for food and refreshments.

“This year we will have 20 brewers, the most ever,” Union Mills Homestead Foundation board member Sam Riley said. “Despite growing attendance, the event is still popular with families, and each year we see many young parents coming out with their children.”

Attendees lined up for beer, to chat with Maryland brewers or to watch a beer brewing demonstration by the Midnight Homebrewers League.

Steve Kranz, president of the Carroll County league, said they enjoy attending the festival annually to share the secret to brewing beer.

“Anybody who can open a can and boil water can brew beer,” Kranz said of the brewing process. “Once you get your hand in the door and your feet wet with a couple of batches, it is very easy to start making your own varieties. There are so many resources out there to build your own recipes for whatever style you like.”

Some visitors found their way around the 16-acre grounds, strolling along the creek. Others turned out for the 1 p.m. cornhole tournament, but most gathered in small groups, friends and family, enjoying a day in the country with food, drinks, music and more.

“This is absolutely perfect weather,” Sewell said. “It’s been dry for the last couple of weeks, so the grounds are in perfect shape. We have 20 brewers, fantastic food, demonstrations and music. What’s not to love? Our cap is to have 5,000 people, and this year we think it will be close.”