Wednesday, March 23, 2011

National Homebrewing Competitions - AHA and Samuel Adams

Six packs of the 2010 Samuel Adams Longshot winners should be hitting KC shelves pretty soon, coinciding with a call for submissions for the 2011 contest. Last year’s competition appealed to the creativity in homebrewers, limiting entries only to BJCP category 23, “Specialty.” This category specifically targets those beers that fit into no other BJCP styles (such as American Pale Ale, Witbier, or German Pilsner).

The three winning styles were Friar Hop (Belgian IPA), Blackened Hops (Black IPA, American Black Ale, Cascadian Ale, or whatever you want to call it), and Honey B’s Lavender Wheat (Wheat ale with lavender, vanilla, and honey). You can read more about the winners and their beers on the Samuel Adams website. Or, see below if you don’t want to sign in with your birthdate information – twice.

This year’s entries are open to all 23 beer categories again, and the deadline for receipt is in early May. It’s free to enter, so why not? All the rules & regulations are posted on their website

Speaking of competitions, this coming Wednesday (March 30th) is the last day to register your beers with your National Homebrewing Competition site of choice . If you haven’t registered your beers online already, you’d better do it now; nearly 2/3 of the regional sites have been filled, you're too late. With nine sites accepting 750 entries, all of them now full, we’re looking at a giant competition this year.

Even if you’re not entering any beers,the AHA National Homebrewers Conference itself is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Homebrew from dozens of clubs all over the country (mostly from the hosting region) show off brewing creativity, techniques like decoction mashing, and – as shown by the “everything is iced” booth last year – a bit of insanity. I wrote about our fun at NHC it last year. This year is in San Diego and promises to be yet another good time. 

Evening events aside, the sessions during the day are more than worth the trip. Last year we learned about cask conditioning, finally understood keeving, and gained some invaluable tips about meadmaking. We even got to taste honey & mead side-by-side to evaluate which honeys we preferred and how the final outcomes compared to their original sources. One of the most popular sessions, probably to no one’s surprise, was a discussion hosted by the Weasel Boy Brewing's owners about Going Pro. The room was absolutely packed with serious homebrewers learning what it takes to turn a hobby into a full-blown job. 

And no, we didn't attend that session.


Richard Roper’s Friar Hop Ale combines his love of hops with his affinity for spicy Belgian ales.  To develop his recipe, Roper created a hybrid of two styles, uniting the big hoppy taste of an IPA with the spicy, fruity flavor of a Belgian. The toasty caramel sweetness from the malt and Belgian candi sugar mimics a Belgian ale, while the big citrus hop notes of an IPA balance the style. A spicy yeast fermentation and hints of orange and coriander round out the brew. Richard’s Friar Hop Ale is a refreshing beer that can be enjoyed any time of year.

Rodney Kibzey’s Blackened Hops is a perfect combination of deep roasted malt character and citrusy hop bitterness. Harnessing eight years of homebrewing knowledge, Rodney found that combining debittered dark malts and citrusy hops yielded a surprising and unique flavor for this brew. Its black color hints at roasted malt and coffee flavors, but it is the big hop character really steals the show.  Packed with citrusy and piney American hops, this beer has a big flavor and clean bitterness. This is Rodney’s second LongShot American Homebrew Contest win; he won in 2007 with a Weizenbock and his beer was included in the 2008 LongShot Variety Pack.

Caitlin DeClercq has worked as a member of the Samuel Adams sales team since 2006. She created her Honey B’s Lavender Wheat with dried lavender petals, giving it a fragrant but soft aroma.  A citrus tartness and slight sweetness from the honey and vanilla balance out the finish in this California resident’s brew; perfect to sip while kicking back and relaxing.
(copied directly from the link above)

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