Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Entering the World of Competitive Homebrew

We've been homebrewing now for a couple of years and feel comfortable that we're making solidly good brews (most of the time). But are we biased? Are our friends just being nice? I think this is something that all homebrewers deal with, and I feel the best way to get an honest opinion is by entering a homebrew competition.

There are a lot of things a homebrewer needs to think about when entering a competition: carbonation (did you bottle condition, are you bottling off of a keg), transportation (do you have to ship it, how long will it take to get there), category to enter in (is this a Pale Ale or an IPA), and timing of your brew schedule. Luckily, the Chicago Beer Society puts on a homebrew competition every Halloween, so we had no reason not to enter. Transportation wasn't a worry, but we still had to deal with carbonation, category and timing. We decided to just enter what we had ready to go: Evil M-Squared (American Amber), Super Cres (American IPA), and Passion Fruit Wheat (Fruit Beer). The only "x factor" was when to bottle it off of the keg to assure freshness. We bottled 8 days prior to the event and crossed our fingers that the carbonation held. Also, we decided Super Cres had a better chance in the IPA category instead of the DIPA it was meant to be.

If you thought there was a lot to think about when entering, there are 1000 more things to think about if you're running a competition. But that's a post for another date! Let's just say the folks that organize and work the event deserve major props.

When all was said and done, we took away 3 medals. The Amber and IPA each took 3rd, and our Passionfruit Wheat took first. This was a great learning experience - and we're looking forward to entering more competitions - cheers!