Max's Belgian Beer Festival is a sudsy buffet

Hundreds of varieties will be on tap for the seventh annual festival

  • The Fell's Point taphouse will serve 120 Belgian and Belgian-style beers this weekend.
The Fell's Point taphouse will serve 120 Belgian and Belgian-style… (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore…)
February 17, 2011|By Erik Maza, The Baltimore Sun

Friday is the start of the Belgian beer festival at Max's Taphouse in Fells Point.

All weekend, the bar will serve hundreds of Belgian and Belgian-style beers on tap and by the bottle.

The event serves as a celebration of Belgian brewing and introduction to a beer that is described by most as an acquired taste.

Hundreds are expected to descend onto Fells Point for the next three days for what is, in effect, an overwhelming buffet of Belgian beer.

The longtime Baltimore bar, known for baroque exterior decorations, plans to rotate some 120 Belgian and Belgian-style beers on its extensive draft lines.

It will also have about 175 brands of Belgian beer in bottles and six casks, including selections from Brewer's Art and Stillwater Ales' most recent collaboration with Dutch brewery Mikkeler, Our Side. (The full draft and bottle menu is available at baltimoresun.com/midnightsun.)

For newbies, Belgian beer packs a wallop of taste.

Even Pratt Street Ale House's master brewer Steve Jones said during Baltimore Beer Week he only started experimenting with them recently.

What makes Belgians taste different is the way they're brewed. Belgian brewers typically use their own house yeast, giving the beer a taste that's radically different from commercial American lagers and even traditional English ale, Jones' specialty.

The beers can be sweet — like the raspberry lambic Oud Beersel Framboise — or extremely sour, like the Flemish brown ale Petrus Oud Bruin.

Unlike other beer festivals, this one has no cover. You pay only for what you drink. (The bar also plans to serve Belgian food for the duration of the festival.)

Those who've attended in the past suggest going with someone who's well-versed in the Belgian genre. Or at least bring a smart phone with a speedy Internet connection to look up the brands and their ratings on beeradvocate.com.

Mainly, come ready to experiment.

Expect big crowds and some popular brands running out quickly.

The Belgian Beer Festival begins at 11 a.m. Friday at Max's, 735 S. Broadway, and continues through Sunday. No cover charge. Call 410-675-6297 or go to maxs.com.

Erik Maza

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