Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, to NHC we go!

Alas! The National Homebrewers Conference is just around the corner, and I'm pretty damn excited to go (except for the 9-hours-of-driving-each-way thing)... Some of the highlights of the conference, for me, include:

  • BJCP Judge Reception on Wednesday. It's at Summit Brewing Co and will include a talk on cask vs. keg beer as well as a large educational session on varietal honey and mead.
  • Pro Brewers Night on Thursday. Check out all the craft breweries that will be there. Oh boy oh boy!
  • Club Night on Friday. Homebrew clubs across the country can sign up to host a booth and share beverages made by their members as well as pimp some awesome hardware. Pro-brewers night is sure to be a lot of fun, and the creativity and skill demonstrated by homebrewers always impresses and inspires me.
  • Seminars! What would the NHC be without its informative sessions on how to make better beer, mead, and cider? There are a few sessions I can't wait to attend, including the Meadmaker of the Year panel and a session on yeast by Wyeast's quality control manager. And speaking of quality control, KC's own Jennifer Helber, founder of the Boulevard Quality Lab, and KC's Beer Pairing Examiner, will be presenting on bottle conditioning. Way to represent, KC!

    Though it's a homebrewer conference, anyone can attend. The focus is on beer education, and many of the seminars cover ingredients, processes, and trends in home brewing. However, all of the topics could be of interest to beer enthusiasts as well. After all, learning about how different yeast strains affect fermenting beer isn't just a homebrewing topic. If that just isn't of interest, you can just buy "social package" tickets, so you can hang out on the town while all the beer nerds attend class, then go to the evening events for all the fun.

    In addition to the social events and seminars, part of the conference includes the final round of homebrew judging to determine the national category winners in beer, mead, and cider. Awards are also given to Homebrewer of the Year, Meadmaker of the Year, and Cidermaker of the year. The brewer who obtains the most points during final round judging is awarded the Ninkasi award. You get 6 points for each first place, 4 points for each 2nd place, and 2 points for each 3rd place.  You can imagine that winning Ninkasi means submitting a hell of a lot of homebrew...

    We've got three beers in the running (American standard & premium lagers and Imperial IPA) and are pretty damn anxious to find out how we'll fare. The awards ceremony is on Saturday night, so we've still got a little while until we find out. Ninkasi is out of reach this year, but you never know what the future will bring...

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