SYKESVILLE — Downtown Sykesville was packed with people from all over Maryland and the mid-Atlantic on Saturday for its annual Craft Beer Festival despite the cold, windy weather.
The event, which is in its second year, focused solely on beer instead of beer and chili. It hosted more than 40 different microbreweries between noon and 5 p.m., making it one of Maryland’s largest beer festivals.
Breweries included Olde Mother Brewing from Frederick; Good Friends Good Waves Great Beer from Delmar, Delaware; Waredaca Brewing from Laytonsville; and 7 Locks Brewing from Rockville, as well as others from other parts of the country.
“There are between 5,000 and 8,000 people here right now, at least from the ticket sales and knowing not everyone is drinking,” said Downtown Sykesville Connection Executive Director Julie Della-Maria, bundled up in a thick coat to brace herself from the chill.
“I would go without the gush of winds,” she said, “but besides that, compared to yesterday we got lucky. There were some flurries this morning, but that stopped.”
Chris Zoghby, 25, and his girlfriend, Jessica Taylor, 25, just moved to Columbia from Richmond, Virginia. They were visiting Sykesville to check out Patapsco Distilling on Saturday and stumbled upon the festival by accident.
“Being new to the area we’ve been looking for things to do,” Taylor said, holding her sample beer glass. “I hate driving in cities so I wanted to find somewhere a little out of the way.”
She said her favorite beer so far was a blood orange beer from Black Flag Brewing Co.
“They’re based out of Columbia,” she said. “So it’s close and we can visit.”
Zoghby said his favorite beer so far was Jailbreak Brewing Company’s “White Russian” coffee cream ale, but the beer in his hand, Nitro Creator Destroyer by Oliver Brewing Co., was also good.
“It’s delicious,” he said.
Jason Williams, sales director for Baltimore-based Oliver Brewing Co., stood by the tap. His stand was near the entrance.
“It’s an English-style nut brown ale,” he said describing the brew, “with 40 gallons of Destroyer espresso from Ceremony Roasters Coffee, out of Annapolis. We are Maryland’s oldest brewery.”
Also at the festival was Allen Wilson, 25. He lives right up the street from Sykesville’s Main Street and said he comes to the event every year.
“This is a good event for Sykesville,” he said drinking the Mosaic Promise Ale freshly poured for him at the Founders Brewing Co. stand. “I came last year too, but I don’t remember much of it.”
Wilson said the Mosaic was good, but it was his first beer of the day. “It’s going to be a long journey,” he said.
Even Carroll County residents who didn’t like beer were drawn to the festival.
Finksburg resident Leanne Rund, 24, and Hampstead resident Caitlin Hunter, 28, stood by the Ace Cider stand.
“I’m not a big beer drinker,” Rund said. “I prefer cider over beer. This is a good one, the pear cider.”
Hunter said she got the pineapple cider, but doesn’t mind beer as long as it’s not an India Pale Ale.
“I don’t like IPAs,” she said, “but I’ve got a lot of options here.”
Farther down Main Street, Finksburg resident Jeff Norman, 65, chatted over a beer with his friend Pat Conley, 62, from Parkville.
“We went to the beer festival out in Union Mills last year, but this year it was canceled,” said Norman. “The weather isn’t too bad today.”
Norman said he couldn’t pick a favorite beer, because “they’re all good,” but Conley said he could select a couple favorites so far.
“The Lagunitas session ale, I thought it was very good,” Conley said. “It’s between that one and this one [the Manor Hill IPA from Ellicott City’s Manor HIll Brewing], which has a citrusy smell to it. It’s very good.”
He said he likes IPAs, “as long as it’s not so hopped up it’s nothing but hops.”
And the festival has grown in the past three years since its first iteration.
“The whole event was in the back parking lot of E.W. Beck’s in the first year,” said volunteer Rich Austin, who will soon co-chair the DSC Promotions Committee. “Now all of Main Street has to be shut down.
“This is THE event,” he said. “And the weather is always perfect.”
More information on events held by the Downtown Sykesville Connection can be found on the organization’s website at www.sykesvillemainstreet.com.