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.
“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.”