Surprising quality and creativity in homebrewing
By Malin Norman
Beer brewed by homebrewers can be surprisingly creative and tasty – and can promise a fantastic brewer in the making. Amateur brewers are honing their mastery of fermentation, in homebrew clubs for instance, and they thrive on experimenting, trying new ingredients and tweaking classic recipes with new ingredients. Many homebrewers later become professional brewers, so it’s quite likely that your favourite brewery was set up by a group of homebrewers.
For intrepid homebrewers, homebrew competitions are a fantastic opportunity to get their beer assessed, receive invaluable feedback and recognition. What’s more, they’re popular; the world’s largest international amateur beer competition is the National Homebrew Competition, organised by the American Homebrewers Association. Since the first competition in 1979, over 162,000 entries have been evaluated in categories such as strong Belgian ale, pilsner, and New England IPA.
Some homebrew competitions also offer the champion brewer the opportunity to brew their winning beer together with a professional brewer. For instance, following the SIBA Homebrew Beer Awards in the UK, the lucky winner will see his hazy pale ale upscaled for commercial production and it will soon hit taprooms and bars across the country. Quite an achievement!
In a recent homebrew competition, I was on the judging panel that selected the winning beer: an outstanding farmhouse ale brewed with apricots and peaches. It was refreshingly sour and tart, yet fruity and delicate. This beer could win an international beer competition for professionals, that’s how good it was. Fingers crossed, the talented homebrewer will set up his own brewery one day.
If you are a homebrewer, make sure to enter your beer into homebrew competitions. And if you know a homebrewer, don’t miss the chance to try their beer – it can be hit and miss, but once in a while a homebrewed beer will blow your mind.
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