Ann Hillyer

Ann McGinnis Hillyer, CEO of Shore Craft Beer, announces FeBREWary, a month-long celebration of craft brewing on the Eastern Shore, during the 2020 launch and reception at Aloft hotel on 45th Street in Ocean City, Monday, Jan. 27.

 

(Jan. 31, 2020) To attract craft beer lovers and bloggers, Shore Craft Beer launched FeBREWary, a month-long regional campaign to make the Eastern Shore a craft beer destination. 

Carol Rose, a representative for Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (R-38), read a proclamation from Gov. Larry Hogan and the Senate at Aloft on 45th Street during this year’s campaign kickoff on Monday.

“The office of tourism and development and the Brewers Association of Maryland will host events and promote FeBREWary as craft beer lover’s month throughout Maryland, so visitors and residents can experience the world-class beer and world-class view of our state while producing tourism in a historically low travel month,” Rose read. 

For the fifth year, Carozza and her staff helped to secure Hogan’s support for the event. 

The fifth annual Love on Tap festival will take place on Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Ocean City convention center on 40th Street.  

VIP ticket holders can enter at noon and begin drinking at 12:30 p.m. General admission ticket holders can enter from 1:30-4:30 p.m. 

Ann McGinnis Hillyer, CEO of Shore Craft Beer, said that the event moved from Seacrets on 49th Street to the convention center this year because of its rising popularity. The event sold out last year with 850 people attending. 

The convention center will be decorated like a brewery or a beer garden, with 1,500 tickets for sale. The cost is $35 for general admission, $50 for VIP tickets and $10 for a designated driver. 

Participants will have the chance to sample over 45 different beers from at least 16 local and regional breweries. 

“We married tourism to a regular beer festival,” Hillyer said. “We have a lot of the destination marketing organizations like Worcester County, Wicomico County, Ocean City, Berlin, even Talbot County and southern Delaware tourism. They’re all joining together to help us decorate and provide a tour of the shore.” 

Additional hotels are offering packages this year, including the Princess Royale Hotel on 91st Street, the Hilton Ocean City Oceanfront Suites on 32nd Street and the Holiday Inn Oceanfront on 66th Street. 

Hillyer worked with Lisa Challenger from Worcester County tourism and Donna Abbott from Ocean City tourism to host at least seven beer bloggers, including Zack Mack from Thrillist, a website that follows food, drink and entertainment. 

“We’ve got one from Syracuse, New York, Austin, Texas, three from D.C., two from New York City and a few others,” Hillyer said. “So that’s pretty exciting to get them, because that’s the only way we’re going to become a top craft beer destination, is if people know what we have and promote it.”

Hillyer said that the festival is only for one afternoon to make room for participants to explore other activities on the shore, such as Delmarva Birding Weekend Shore Craft Beer Fest trips. 

“We only want a four-hour festival on Saturday afternoon because we want the festival goers and the beer bloggers to come for our event, but to participate in all the activities around the shore - Ocean City and the shore,” Hillyer said. 

To spread the word on all the other events, Shore Craft Beer will be using the hashtag #TourtheShore. It will also introduce the Shore Craft Beer app for participants that a grant from the Rural Maryland Council helped create. 

Participants will be able to check in to events and keep track of the craft beers they’ve been drinking. 

“It allows us to have a progress meter on challenges,” Hillyer said. “If they haven’t checked in to certain businesses but they have others, we can send notifications.” 

Some challenges include visiting a certain number of breweries on the shore to win a prize, such as stickers, specialty glasses and a gift card to Odyssea Watersports.  

On Friday, Feb. 28, there will be a panel, “Brewers, Bloggers and Brewcations,” at the Ocean Downs Casino from 5:30-7 p.m. The panel, which will consist of Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and beer bloggers, will discuss craft beer trends. 

Following that, there will be the Liquor Before Beer pre-party for Love on Tap attendees from 8-10 p.m. at Seacrets with $5 craft distilled spirits all night. Both events are free. 

Fin’s Ale House and Bar in Berlin will offer a craft beer-focused brunch menu on Sunday, March 1. 

For tickets and more information, go to shorecraftbeerfest.com.

Elizabeth covers Worcester County issues for Ocean City Today. In 2018, she graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a bachelor of arts. After graduation, Elizabeth spent a year with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Wilmington, Delaware.

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