Winter Extreme Homebrew Competition / Homebrewers Shin Dig at The Ruck

Yesterday was the awards ceremony and Homebrews Shin Dig for The Ruck’s second Extreme Hombrew Competition. Things were done a little differently than last year, as they separated the judging and the awards to two separate days to make things a little quicker for all of the homebrewers who were involved, and also gave them a chance to grab lunch and share their brews with their fellow competitors.

Awards were given for the best in each category, Best in Show, and Best 6-Pack for teams who submitted a beer to all 6 categories:

  • Snow Melter – beers with chilies/peppers in the recipe
  • Free Range: Water – water in beer must come from natural source, spring, well, etc.
  • Bad Santa – 8+% ABV in your face Christmas beer
  • Beer & Cereal: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore – breakfast cereal in its mash bill
  • Funky Fermentables – 10-50% of alcohol content from outside the grist bill
  • Kitchen Malt House – brewer malted and roasted barley

The trophies were all very cool, unique, and handmade right in Troy, NY…

…by Bianca of The Broken Mold Studio. Check ’em out.

Chad getting a pour of some homebrew braggot.

Bob getting the show going.

Winner for the Snow Melter Category: Brooklyn Hopsters for Dragon’s Breath.

AlcoholiX taking home the Beer & Cereal win for Special Red.

Brooklyn Hopsters wins again for his American Wheat “Göse” in the Funky Fermentables category.

Beer Me Up Scotty taking the trophy for Calvin & Hoppes IPA in the Kitchen Malt House Category.

Three trophies. Hm, I’m seeing a trend here… Best In Show: Brooklyn Hopsters

And one last trophy for Best Six Pack. Damn, congrats man!

The guys waiting for Bob to wrap it up so they can go back to drinking each others’ brew.

Chad’z Cherry Chocolate Stout

Nice turnout of a bunch of guys enthusiastic about their craft. Looking forward to see what they come up with next time.

The Ruck Extreme Homebrew Competition

Saturday was The Ruck’s first Homebrew Competition and I was honored to be one of the five judges of the day

In order of appearance above:
The sixth judge was not present so the Gnomegang Gnome took his place:

Let’s just say this was a LOOOOONG day. This was my first time judging beer, and it was a completely different experience than previous beer tasting events I’ve done. It’s not just giving a beer a yay or a nay. It’s analyzing each beer, seeing how it fits with the style of beer, seeing how it fits with the category it was submitted, and seeing if there are any flaws that knocks it down a few points. This is easy to do with a set of ten beers over a course of an hour or so, but when it’s 60+ beers over the course of 8 hours, it’s a totally different story.

Bob explaining to us the schedule for the day.

Me getting my judging on.

This was really a new experience for me. It was tough because, even though I may have liked a beer, I might have to score it lower because it didn’t meet the criteria for the category. Or maybe there was a beer that I didn’t like AT ALL but I scored high because it was true to the style and had some really weird ingredients that were required for the category.

There were 6 categories for the day, with each ranging some 8-13 submissions for each round. Some rounds had some real hits. Stuff I would actually pay money for. Others not so much.

Howie judging the appearance of this brew.

The man: Dave Gardell.

This wasn’t a quick process. We started at 1PM, and by the 4th round it was past 5 o’clock and Howie had to get going. By the end of the 5th, it was almost 7 and Lambic Larry was on his way. By the last round it was just Jay, Russ and I.

Matty pouring our next round.

Honestly, this sucked for the competitors who had submissions for the last couple of categories. Less judges meant greater room for error and less of a general consensus. Plus those of us judges that stuck around were mentally exhausted, our palates were shot and our noses were senseless. I really feel like we did not give the last few categories their proper justice and next year there should definitely be more judges, tasting less beers.

Jay deep in thought. (Ha.)

The results:

Round 1: Platinum

  • Hudson Home Brewer – Platinum for the People

Round 2: Black IPA

  • Gray Kruger – Black Riverview IPA

Round 3: Rye Not

  • Stay Nerdy – Tay Zonday’s Chocolate Rye

Round 4: Antanum

  • Gray Kruger – Riverview Maibock

Round 5: Funky Fermentables

  • Brooklyn Hopsters – Sweet Potato Ale

Round 6: Fruit and Spice

  • Beer Me Up Scotty – Deceptpcan Pie Porter

Best Overall:

  • Triad Homebrew

Best of Show:

  • Stay Nerdy!

I’m sure there were plenty of these piled up at the end of the night.

Two beers really stood out for me during the day. I can’t remember which category it was but a high ABV Russian Imperial Stout that absolutely floored me. I LOVED it and would have definitely paid for that beer. The second was in the Funky Fermentables category, and it was a cream ale that had two pounds of popcorn in it. Not a style I usually enjoy, but it was a great example of the style and two pounds of popcorn was definitely an original idea that fit the category perfectly.

The judges, and some of The Ruck crew who put this all together.

For the The Ruck’s first competition it was done well and gives them some pointers where they need to change things next time around to make both the competitors and the judges a little happier. Overall this was an incredible experience that I was glad I got to take part in. It opened my eyes on critiquing beer not just on what I like and dislike, but how the beer is supposed to be according to the style, whether it’s my favorite style or not. Hopefully I get a chance to participate in something like this again in the future.

A bunch more pictures can be found here.

All pictures are courtesy of Elise aka SWMBO.

North Greenbush, NY: Big Brew at Homebrew Emporium [#Homebrew]

Last weekend was the Big Brew event at homebrew shops all across the country to celebrate National Homebrew Day and I got to spend the morning at our local homebrew shop, The Homebrew Emporium. No brewing for me this year as I already had plans to to head to lunch at Crossroads but I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to check out the array of different hand-home setups, BS with the brewers and staff, and get my education on. (My first experience with homebrewing was *ahem* less than stellar.)

The beer they brewed on Saturday was Bucksnort Brown Ale and the ingredients for extract and all-grain were both provided gratis for all those who brought their own equipment to brew on site. Pretty badass. The recipes can be found here.

Nothing better than hanging out with a bunch of homebrewers to inspire you to get back into it after a little bit of a hiatus. Definitely going to go through the Brookyln Brew Shop Beer Making book to find an acceptable recipe to make and pick some ingredients tonight before they close at 7. See you guys before then!

You can check out even more pictures here.

Not that I have New Year’s Resolutions, but these are a good start. [Homebrewing]

Right before Christmas I got my first taste of homebrewing. Sunday I should be able to crack open my first bottle and I can’t wait. It’s going to be junk, I know it. But I’m going to love it anyways, because it was my first try and I know that it’s going to be no good. I know I wasn’t careful enough with the temperature, the sanitization, transferring, etc. But it’s a start.

I’m thinking about brewing soon but it’s an odd time to start. The beer will be done some time in Feb so it’s definitely too late for Christmas beers and too early for spring time IPAs, too. Maybe a stout or possibly sneak in a Winter Warmer before it starts to warm back up. 

Not that I have New Year’s Resolutions, but these are a good start. [Homebrewing]