Beer Bacon Music organizer Kenneth MacFawn is treating the Frederick festival as if its entering its third year, even though its first-ever suds have yet to be consumed.
In the first year, “people don’t fully know what to expect,” MacFawn said in an interview with The Frederick News-Post. The second year is the sophomore slump, that time period for an artist in which his or her second effort out of the gate fails to measure up to the initial big splash.
By the third year “you just work out all the kinks and you’re ready for greatness,” MacFawn said.
Beer Bacon Music is set to offer greatness on a grand scale with more than 30 breweries lined up featuring more than 100 beers Saturday and Sunday at the Frederick Fairgrounds. Breweries include some relatively local offerings, including Baltimore’s DuClaw, Virginia’s Starr Hill and Pennsylvania’s Victory and Troegs. Other offerings include Brooklyn Brewery, Portland, Oregon’s Widmer Bros., St. Louis, Missouri’s Schlafly and Raleigh, North Carolina’s Lonerider.
In addition to the established brewers’ offerings, the festival includes a homebrew competition. A total of 288 brewers sent their entries for judging with a winner to be named on site. Sadly, that beer won’t get widespread consumption beyond the judges.
“Unfortunately, it’s illegal,” MacFawn said.
And then there’s the bacon. More than 2 tons of the salty, fatty goodness prepared in a variety of ways will be available via a bacon bar being arranged at the site. Additional dishes, prepared by chefs from restaurants including JB Seafood, Mistero Bar and Italian Grille and Firestone’s Culinary Tavern, to name a few, will also be available at additional cost.
Ten bands are also scheduled to play across both days, including Kwesi K and Drunk Naked Pirates, who are on tap for a Sunday set.
MacFawn is currently partial to Troegs’ Perpetual IPA, though even that “depends on the day,” he said. He looks for the unusual when considering beers. He’s particularly looking forward to tasting St. Ambroise’s Oatmeal Stout, available only to VIP ticket-holders at the festival.
Several types of tickets for attendance are available, including a one-day VIP ticket for $125. One-day passes run $45 or $65 to attend Saturday and Sunday. That pass includes a souvenir glass, though each sample costs a penny with proceeds going to Cocktails for a Cause Maryland to assist nonprofits. Designated driver entry is $25 and includes the bacon bar and root beer. Children age 8 and younger can enter for free.
MacFawn previously worked as marketing manager at Flying Dog and now handles craft beer for Wantz Distributors Inc. He said he wanted to bring greater awareness to craft beer and home brewing as well as promote tourism in Frederick, where he grew up.
Beer Bacon Music comes just as other high profile events are scheduled to begin to highlight suds from across the region in Frederick and coincides with the end of American Craft Beer Week, May 12-18. The Maryland Craft Beer Festival is set to kick off along Carroll Creek on May 31 and will highlight brews from across the state. Frederick Beer Week starts May 30 and runs until June 7 with events across the city, culminating in a festival at Mount Airy’s Stillpoint Farm.
Frederick Beer Week organizer Kevin Smith said it may take two or three years to determine if the region can support the number of events popping up around Frederick but for now, the more the merrier. While overall beer sales decreased by 2 percent last year, craft sales were up by 16 percent, he said. Beer drinkers are thirsty for craft.
There were about 1,500 craft breweries in the United States about five years ago, Smith said. That number has now more than doubled, he said.
“We’re finally at pre-prohibition numbers for the number of breweries producing beers,” Smith said.
Michelle Kershner, business development specialist for Frederick’s Department of Economic Development, said there are no real stats on how the number of beer-related events influence the local economy but anecdotally, businesses and hotels report positive results.
“I think it’s good exposure for Frederick,” Kershner said.
With his own event planned, MacFawn said he’s aiming for an “unintimidating” atmosphere “where people can have fun and learn about craft beer.
“Everyone has an opinion,” he said. “I like a lot of beers. In my line of work, you never know what somebody is going to like.”