Back in November we reached out to the community to bring in their best homebrews. We had the belief that some of the best tasting and most creative beers in Minnesota are sitting unlabeled in someone’s beer fridge.
Now it is safe to say that not only were we right, but we were also blown away.
The bottles and entry forms started to trickle in right away. Small brown bottles dominated the lineup, with a few repurposed bombers, and even a 750ml green bottle making a showing.
The fun really started when we sat down to taste. We sorted the entry forms from the lightest beer to the heaviest beer. We are by no means certified cicerones, supertasters, or BJCP ranked judges but we always find it helpful to print out some BJCP score sheets or checklists to guide us when taking tasting seriously.
There were two planned tasting trips through the set of beers. The first was to get the cold right out the bottle impressions, and the second to see how the beers held up as they warmed up. We drank through each beer, tasting and discussing it while reading through the descriptions written on the entry forms.
We received everything from a light and refreshing Farmhouse Saison to a Cherry Irish Cream Stout mimicking a cream liqueur.
At the end of the day we had to decide a victor. In most competitions you only need to rank beers within a single style category but we couldn’t have been further away from that. With this in mind, creativity, technical execution, and overall impressions were chosen as the three main criteria for ranking the beers.
Today it is our pleasure to announce the winners of the Winter 2014 Community Sourced Brewing competition.
Honorable Mention: Nate Wittenberg’s Black IPA
We wish we could have bottled the aroma coming off of this beer. It was absolutely wonderful. Nate described it in his own words better than we ever could: “This is a black IPA that is heavy handed with apollo and summit hops, giving it dank, pine, and citrusy aroma and flavor.” The keyword in there is dank, and dank was delivered.
2nd Runner Up: Bart Bahe’s Megladon Imperial Red
As soon as we saw the label on this thing we knew we were in for a treat. This high alcohol imperial red was very deceptive. Each sip was smooth from front to back with a great maltiness and deep red color. If this beer was being served at any beer tasting event, we’re sure a line would form.
1st Runner Up: Matt MacInnes’ 3522 Belgian Single
It is hard enough to do lighter beers on a commercial system with commercial controls; to perfectly execute a Belgian Single on a homebrew system is an amazing achievement. This beer had the best technical execution in the group. A fresh aroma with just a hint of Belgian spiciness, incredibly balanced flavor, and a very light aftertaste that stuck around for the perfect amount of time, leaving us wanting one more sip.
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner: Lauren & Matt Mueller’s Jolakottur Specialty Beer
Jolakottur, which we are told is Icelandic for yule cat, was a truly special beer. Again quoting from the creators own description, “Vaguely based on a Baltic Porter design (though drier than some). Into this we added bourbon soaked oak, vanilla bean, toasted coconut and dark belgian candy sugar.”
When running across a homebrew description like this, things tend to go in one of two ways. Either you get a franken-beer with huge flavors overpowering each other and begging your taste buds for an immediate break or you get something unexpectedly brilliant. Unexpectedly brilliant is what we found. The oak, vanilla bean, coconut, and even bourbon were all delicately balanced. Like a receiving line to greet the bride and groom after a wedding, each flavor popped in quickly to say hello, only to quickly let the next flavor in line have its’ chance.
Between the creativity and the flavor, this beer was our clear winner. We are excited to get Matt and Lauren in the brewery with Jake, Derek, and Tony to start planning the brew session.
Without a doubt this was a great experience. A special thank you to all who entered and anyone else who supports home brewing. This is how we got our start and we hope many other great brewers will follow.