The Baltimore version of Das Best Oktoberfest (which also takes place on another date at National Harbor) used to be the Maryland Brewers Oktoberfest and was held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium from 2002 to 2012 before moving to the Ravens stadium parking area in 2013. Das Best Oktoberfest differs from its predecessor not only in location but also in scope. The former festival featured exclusively Maryland breweries (hence its name), while the newer one includes basically anyone who will pay for a booth: foreign breweries, wineries, distilleries, cideries, meaderies, and makers of hard soda and hard lemonade.
The VIP session officially started at noon, but they let folks in earlier, maybe because in years past there would be hundreds of people in line at noon. Upon entering I met up with various friends and walked around, not getting my first beer until I'd been there for 15 minutes. Contrast this to my usual method of making a beeline to the beer stations.
We headed over to the Guinness booth, where they served their lager on draught and stout in bottles. They said that the new brewery slated to open in Relay in 2018 would brew only their lager there, and that their stout would continue to be brewed in Ireland. They gave away T-shirts with their name and big Baltimore Beer Week logos on them.
At this point I split off from my friends to pursue beer but managed to keep running into them. Here are (most of) the beers I tried:
I also tried some non-beer libations:
I was not very impressed with the beer selection. In fact, my favorite beer of the day was a homebrew (the Nepenthe New England IPA). Of course, I missed Ballast Point's Unfiltered Sculpin and some other VIP beers due to hanging out with friends rather than hitting the taps early on, so perhaps one of those would have been noteworthy. Here are photos of some of the beer stations:
By the way, New Belgium was there, and was one of the least visited places. Remember when people used to think Fat Tire was great when it wasn't distributed here? Interesting how their attitude changed after it became readily available.
Here are nome of the non-beer stations:
There were many goings-on in addition to the libations: bands and contests on the main stage, tricycle races, cornhole, various costumes, free food samples, and many hired ladies that added decor. Some of the ladies traveled considerable distances for the event; the two on either side of the cask below drove up from North Carolina.
At about 2:30 a cask of Loose Cannon was tapped on the stage, which was fortunate since we missed the Opening Tap Ceremony that had happened a few hours earlier. Below left is a photo; below right is a video.
Incidentally, the Opening Tap Ceremony, which occurs at this festival each year, marks the unofficial start of Baltimore Beer Week (which actually begins the day before). Below is a photo of the founders of Baltimore Beer Week, Dominic Cantalupo on the left and Joe Gold on the right.
After that, they announced the winners of the homebrew contest. To my great surprise, I won both 1st and 2nd place with my kriek and my Belgian strong ale, respectively. The last time I'd won this contest was in 2005 (see photo in the addendum). In the photo below, on the left is the 3rd place winner; and on the right is my friend Chris Anderson, who owns Maryland Homebrew.
The rest of the afternoon was spent drinking. It got crowded late in the day - even the crappy beers had lines. By 5:00 I'd had enough and headed back home on the Light Rail.
Here are some photos from this festival when it was the Maryland Brewers Oktoberfest. This group is from 2004:
The photo below is from 2005. I won both 1st and 2nd place in the homebrew contest (with a gueuze and a stout, respectively) and they photographed me with some of the hired ladies.
A web page for the 2011 Maryland Brewers Oktoberfest is here.