(By Andy Carter, El Presidente)
Thank you Otis for kicking off the first in the three part series of the Ventura Independent Beer Enthusiasts’ trip down to (not so) sunny San Diego for the National Homebrewers Convention/Competition. After an amazing 10th Anniversary party for The Brewing Network on Wednesday June 10, the convention began in earnest the following day.
Early Thursday morning, I helped steward the Second Round of the National Homebrewing Competition. Top-placing beers from around the country were assembled at the Town and Country to be analyzed and critiqued by some of the best beer judges in the world. I was in charge of table for BJCP Category 10, American Ale. While handling score sheets and beer bottles, I got to try the beers moving on to the final table. They were some truly exceptional beers on that table!
2nd Round Judging, National Homebrew Competition
After the morning judging, the VIBE crew hit some seminars. We attended the Modern Times “Brewing with Coffee,” and the Perrault Farms / Russian River Brewing Co. panel on “Brewing With Experimental Hops.” We even took some exclusive hops home to brew with (HBC-438).
The Hops: HBC-438, exclusively released to the homebrew community until commercialization.
A recipe for using HBC-438 in a straight-forward Session IPA.
With the seminars complete for Thursday, we met up with members from the online sour and funky beer knowledge sharing group, Milk the Funk. Bottles were shared, brewing tips were exchanged, and a great time was had.
Milk the Funk.
The scheduled Thursday night event for NHC was the Welcome Reception, a.k.a “Pro Night.” Breweries both local and not-so-local pour their brews for the assembled homebrew crowds. Nearly every brewery pouring had a brewer, owner, or both present to discuss the beer and offer advice. VIBE gravitated to the excellent beers of Russian River Brewing Co. that night, and the rest was history.
Friday morning began with a seminar on malt by Briess Malting “Kilned Versus Roasted: Do You Really Know Your Specialty Malt?” What could of been a dull topic was transformed by David Richter of Briess Malting. His expert knowledge coupled with quick wit and sense of humor made the panel one of my favorites for the weekend.
Diastatic power versus malt color.
After the malt seminar, a few VIBE members hit the Convention Expo where brewing vendors marketed their products while handing out shirts and other brewing ephemera. Every vendor brought their A-game, a few sample beers to boot!
After an off-site lunch at The Blind Lady Alehouse, we attended a sour beer seminar, “How to Brew, Blend and Maintain an Acid Beer,” by Council Brewing’s resident “Wild Man,” Jeff Crane. Jeff spoke to how Council maintains a cleanly acidic blonde beer to blend with other beers to transform them. The audience was invited to make their own blends as well. A solid educational experience!
As the day wore on, we drew ever closer to the fabled NHC Club Night. VIBE is no stranger to events like these.
Everyone felt the VIBE that night.
The club poured seven diverse beers, from cider to Saison to classic American pale ale. For about 30 minutes, we poured samples our oak barrel program, uncarbonated, including sour blonde, sour red, a Bourbon barrel Belgian Quadruple, and finally our 2015 Cuvée de VIBE. Getting to try so many excellent homebrewers from around the country is a rare treat.
El Presidente and the VIBE Consigliere both had to leave early Saturday morning, but a few VIBE members stayed for the day’s events. Stay tuned for part three of this epic tale!