Bel Air Beer Week 2016, a 9-day multi-venue event celebrating craft beer, returns to town this August, but things are already brewing – including the official beer of the celebration, which was blended by local hands from special ingredients last week.
Bel Air Beer Week, now in its second year, runs from August 5-14 and involves more than 20 different bars, restaurants, and local businesses. Local bars, restaurants, bottle shops, and beer enthusiasts are working together to support small breweries from across the country, as well as those here in Harford County, in an effort to involve and educate members of our community. Bel Air Beer Week is intended to help the community embrace its agricultural heritage and passion for craft beer through a week of tap takeovers, tastings, dinners, festivals, and more.
A full list of dozens of events, which include a Mad Science Night, Pirates of the Caribbean Party, Create a Custom Wooden 6-Pack Carrier, duckpin bowling, a beer pong tournament can be found here: http://belairmaryland.org/events-2/bel-air-beer-week/events/
With A Little Hops From My Friends
On July 12, the official beer of Bel Air Beer Week was brewed at Independent Brewing Company in Bel Air. The beer is intended to be a symbol of community and will be available on draft starting August 3 at various participating accounts.
“The beer is called With A Little Hops From My Friends. I decided to name the beer this and the concept comes from the idea that Bel Air Beer Week would not be possible without the help from my friends. Friends that work at bars, my coworkers, friends that work at breweries, my boss and family,” said said Bel Air Beer Week founder Shane McCarthy.
McCarthy teamed up with Independent Brewing Company to help brew the beer. He took the concept of the beer even further than just the name and reached out to breweries all around the country to send hops for the beer. McCarthy said he received hops from brewers in California, Maine, Vermont, and North Carolina, as well as some locally grown in Harford County.
“I didn’t stop there, I invited members of the community to come together to brew this beer. On brew day we had more than 60 different members of our community come together to help brew. Harford’s Heart Magazine joined us, County Executive Barry Glassman, AleCraft, local home brewers, members of other breweries, and employees of local bars and restaurants got involved. Over the course of 2 hours, we let everyone add hops into the beer,” McCarthy said.
Keeping it Local
McCarthy, who has lived in Harford County for almost all of his 26 years, said he loves Bel Air and, unlike many people his age, was more interested in coming up with creative reasons to stay and do things in the county, rather than run off to the city. Before moving on to beer, McCarthy’s early endeavors included working with the local skateboard shop on contests and lessons for kids and grew into hosting festivals and fundraisers for the local music scene.
“Our town is a beautiful town full of rich history and creative individuals, it makes sense to have a beer week in Bel Air,” he said.
McCarthy said holding a craft beer and brewing event in Bel Air makes sense for other reasons too. With a finger on the pulse of that community, he realizes craft beer and brewing culture is growing and becoming big business, so why not support it locally?
“Craft beer has been around for decades, it’s not a new thing, it has just spread its roots to small towns. Like many things, including fashion, culinary culture, music, and even beer, you will find they start in the big cities and start to trickle out into the small towns.”
Taking inspiration from what Baltimore Beer Week has done for craft beer in Baltimore during its 10 year-run, McCarthy said he is happy to see more demand for craft beer and people wanting an artisan product made with passion and pride.
And if you’re not quite as hip to hops at McCarthy and his fellow brew aficionados, that’s ok too, as there’s still plenty to do, and learn, and drink at Bel Air Beek Week.
“Sometimes people are scared to try new things, Bel Air Beer Week is a perfect time to get over this phobia, many locations are hosting free tastings and free events for customers to come enjoy trying new things and meeting new friends,” McCarthy said.
This year Bel Air Beer Week came together with the help from The Bel Air Downtown Alliance, Independent Brewing Company, Ronnie’s Beverage Warehouse, Looney’s Pub, Magerks, Birroteca, RT 24 Alehouse, Sean Bolans, The Liquor Stop, Friendship Wine and Liquor, Bel Air Liquors, The Tower, Main Street Oyster House, Fallston Seafood, JDs Smokehouse, Half Pints, Pairings Bistro, Falling Branch Brewery, Heavy Seas and Sam Adams.
“I hope to see everyone out during Bel Air Beer Week supporting these small businesses. Let’s continue to work together to spread the word about craft beer and let Bel Air Beer Week and events of the like continue to spearhead a series of creative and community driven events in our town. Let’s break away from the norm, lets work together and provide our children and grandchildren with a healthy, artistic and fun place to call home,” McCarthy added.
A full list of information about about sponsors, participants, and accounts involved can be found here: http://belairmaryland.org/events-2/bel-air-beer-week/sponsors-partners/