The weekend of July 21-22 was an exciting one for our club! Our first major homebrew competition began with a day-long judging session and was successfully concluded at the Elizabeth Celtic Festival with an awards ceremony. The last few monthly meetings were devoted to planning and preparation for the competition, including recruiting judges, soliciting entries, attracting sponsors, and generally tying up all the various loose ends that conducting an event of this magnitude involves. This was our first AHA-sanctioned effort and naturally all concerned wanted to make it a memorable and positive experience.
By the time the judges convened at The Brew Hut in Aurora mid-day on Friday, July 20, we had amassed 92 entries organized into 14 medal groups. The vast majority of the entries were local and in-state, but several brews from as far away as Texas, Missouri, Tennessee and Wyoming were also received at three designated sponsor drop off sites – CoBrew in Denver, 105West Brewing Company in Castle Rock and the Brew Hut in Aurora.
Several BJCP Judges were paired with club members serving as novice judges, so a few Hop-Aholics now have that added experience. Other club members also served as stewards, along with a couple volunteers from the Aurora City Brew Club. Entries were assembled into flights and each then evaluated by the judging teams using AHA/BJCP methodology.
It might seem to someone who has never experienced a beer judging before that this would just be considered an excuse for a party, but not so! A lot of thought and careful consideration went into judging each bottle and as the afternoon stretched into early evening, it was apparent that beer judging is actually quite a bit of work. Judges, stewards and other volunteers were sustained throughout with a supply of pizzas and wings, courtesy of club member Jake Vendegna, President of Colorado Hosting and Twenty Mile Security Specialists. By the time judging concluded around 8pm, each score had been recorded in Reggiebeer.com. Now the focus shifted to the Hop-Aholics display at the festival itself.
Many thanks to our friends at The Brew Hut for the use of their excellent classroom facility, a really great place for beer judging, eating pizza and generally drinking beer.
Club members reconvened on Sunday morning, July 22 at the Elizabeth Celtic Festival venue, located at Casey Jones Park just east of the town center. The rambling festival site incorporated arts and crafts booths, food stalls, a couple pubs, several highland sports demonstrations, a sheepdog herding area and over 40 Irish and Scottish clan displays, among other Celtic-related activities. The Hop-Aholics tent was located next to a “Dogs of the UK” display, with several enthusiastic dachshunds inexplicably close by.
Club members interacted with interested festival goers to talk beer and brewing, and directed people to a stand manned by Jake Huolihan, who conducted a Brűlosophy exBEERiment – a triangle taste test involving two brews mashed at different temperatures.
The crowd around the club tent began to grow noticeably as 2pm approached – the announced time for the homebrew awards. President Will Trail then stepped forward, welcomed everyone and, after thanking our many sponsors, began to run through the first, second and third place finishers in each of the 14 categories. A complete list of the winning brewers, their brews and their club affiliations (if any) can be found here.
Six different Hop-Aholics did very well, receiving awards in the following categories:
Judy Kuenker, New Momma Kolsch (Pale Bitter European Beer)
Will Trail, Summer Rye Saison (Strong Belgian Ale)
Judy Kuenker, Road Rocker American Strong Ale (Strong British Ale)
Bob Gertie, Stars and Stripes American Pale Ale (Pale American Ale)
Bob Gertie, AM or PM Specialty Wood Aged Beer (Spiced Beer)
Will Trail, Helles Bock (Pale Malty European Lager)
Deb Cobb, Kolsch (Pale Bitter European Beer)
Glenn Berry, Roxy’s Brown Porter (Brown British Beer)
Dale Goulette & Mike Henderson, MD Wee Heavy (Strong British Ale)
Bob Gertie, Belgian Golden 2018 (Strong Belgian Ale)
These individual awards resulted in the Hop-Aholics receiving the “Heavy Medal Award” for the most awarded group or club with 17 points, followed by the Rock Hoppers Brew Club of Castle Rock with 16, and the Cane Island Alers of Katy, Texas with 7.
Best of Show
Glenn Humphrey of the Rock Hoppers Brew Club was awarded “Best of Show” for his excellent Fetchez la Vache Bière de Garde. His prize will be the opportunity to co-brew with the brewers at 105West Brewing Company of Castle Rock. Thanks to Eric Seufert and his staff at 105West for providing this great Pro-Am brewing opportunity!
The Elizabeth Celtic Festival Homebrew Competition was a great learning experience, a lot of work and a hell of a lot of fun! Sincere thanks to everyone who helped out to make it the success it was – our competition participants, judges, sponsors and participating club members. We’re already looking forward to next year!