Berlin, Md hosted its first ever Oktoberfest, and IndyBeers was on hand for the event. Overall it was a great time. There was a good size crowd on hand for the event with the downtown Main Street area being well packed. We headed from the north end of town down past the center towards the beer garden, as that was the only place one could procure a fine malted beverage. Entrance to the beer garden was free, but tickets were $3 each, which is a great price for drinking a delicious craft beer.
After getting our handful of tickets we stood in line for about 10 minutes to get our first sample of the newly released Burley Oak Oktoberfest. As it was, however, we only managed to get 1 beer each of this earthy toned beverage, as the keg ran out while I was interviewing brew master Brian Carl. From that point we switched to the Flying Dog Marzen. That worked out well because we had been drinking the same beer earlier in the day before coming to the festival. While we were standing around drinking we spotted Bryan Brushmiller, the owner of Burley Oak Brewery. I quickly introduced myself and jumped right into asking about his beer.
After talking with Bryan for a while, he introduced me to his brew master, Brian. Brian and I discussed his passion for brewing and why he decided to come to Burley Oak Brewing. It was during this time the the keg went dry, and he half jokingly said, “I gotta go to the brewery and fill kegs now.” While he went back to business, Chris and I took some time to survey the scene. There was a place serving big barbequed pieces of meat, so Chris purchased one to try out. He said it was really good.
After a few more beers we decided to head back to the brewery and see what was going on there, as well as sample some of the other beers that might be available. As we walked back North through town we passed the live music which was offering up some traditional Oktoberfest style melodies.
After about a 15 minute walk from the downtown area we found ourselves at the brewery. The brewery was very modest and unassuming in looks from the outside. Except for the small sign in the front, you wouldn’t know that there was a brewery inside. They have only been open for about 2 months, since August of 2011.
Inside the brewery was a sizable bar area. There were plenty of places to stand and or sit and enjoy some of the beers they currently had on tap. I went with a Pale Ryeder (which was full of a great rye flavor) and Chris went with the September Fest. Both were high in alcohol content, and after a day at the Oktoberfest everyone was beginning to notice the effects.
I continued talking about beer with Bryan and he explained why he had decided to brew beer, and why Berlin was the location for him. I was hoping to get a tour of the brewery, which could be seen through a large window behind the bar, but something had spilled in the back, and it wasn’t a good time to bring people through the area. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to come back again!!!
The end of the day final came for us and it was time to head back home. Bryan was happy to step outside with us for a couple more pictures. It was pretty funny, actually, as he was prone to goofing off while the pictures were being taken and there are more than a few that made me laugh looking at them later.
Notable Quotes for the day:
Q: You had a beer called the 7 finger farmer?
A: The farmer only had 7 fingers, lost in a machine accident, so [Bryan] named the beer after him for growing the hops.
Q: So what do you think you’re gonna get here. You’ve got the Flying Dog, the Ocktoberfest…?
A: I’ll take a Flying Dog. 2 of ’em.
-Mark Jersey Cerbo
Q: In terms of the beers that you’re distributing, how many of them were part of Anheuser Busch, Miller, or Coors…what percentage?
A: Our portfolio when I was with Carry Distributors at the time Unibev was buying everybody up, they owned a large percent because at that point Miller and Coors had merged together. We had a strong portfolio. I mean we had Yuengling, we had Heinekin and Corona, I mean we had pretty much all the big hitters but Anheuser Busch.
Q: How difficult did you find it to distribute your beer not having Anheuser Busch in your portfolio?
A: Not hard. ‘Cause we had, you know, percentage-wise if you looked into say, a package store we were probably anywhere from 65 to 70% of the door space.
Q: Outside of distributing the Anheuser Busch, Miller, Coors products how difficult was it to push craft beers into the market?
A: In the beginning it was a little difficult, but once Dogfish opened up in Delaware in our back yard, you know, Dogfish was an easy swing into the craft beer industry for us down here, you know. And they have quality products and they expanded, you know, in the right point of time. They didn’t try to grow too fast, they came along at a good pace that, you know eventually they’re world wide now.
Q: Do you feel that because of the fact that Dogfish Head made a presence in the Delmarva scene that it made it easier to push craft beers locally?
A: Absolutely. Good question.
Q: So you feel that because of Dogfish Head, craft beers are better appreciated in this area.
A: Well, in this area down here I think they really were the first stepping stone in the craft beer industry, so with their success grew craft beer in our area, so. With Burley Oak opening up here in Berlin, I mean I think they’ll do well.