A Look at the Great American Beer Fest 2013 Pro-Am Winners
Brewing on the production system of a commercial brewery is a shared dream amongst many homebrewers. This year, one hundred American Homebrewers Association members earned the opportunity to do just that in the Great American Beer Festival 2013 Pro-Am competition.
Brewers Association member breweries are eligible to submit one Pro-Am entry into the Great American Beer Festival each year. Entries must be based on homebrew recipes from American Homebrewers Association members that have won an award in an AHA/BJCP Sanctioned Competition.
The pool of one hundred entries are split up to be poured at the Pro-Am booth during one of the Great American Beer Festival sessions, and the winners are tapped for the Saturday day session after gold, silver and bronze medalists have been announced. If you missed the Pro-Am booth this year at the festival, make it your first stop in 2014!
Gold | Poblano, Cigar City Brewing
Wayne Wambles, Tampa, Fla.-based Cigar City brewer, and AHA member Jeff Gladish decided to enter Gladish's decade-old pepper beer recipe instead of a dopplebock, and they are both happy they did! The base beer is best described as an "imperial" Belgian witbier with 7% ABV. The bigger-than-usual wit stands up nicely to the poblano pepper flavor and aroma.
"The most complicated part was making sure the poblano character was at the right level. It is such a wild card situation due to the variability of peppers," says Wambles, who uses peppers in a Cigar City stout.
In addition to the 280 peppers Gladish and his wife prepared for the 15 barrels of collaborative brew, it was decided more were needed to achieve the proper balance. "We needed more poblano flavor in the beer, so I roasted another half crate," shared Gladish.
When asked if Cigar City Brewing would make Poblano again, Wambles replied, "as long as Jeff is willing to roast all the poblanos again, sure, why not!"
Silver | Charlie's Brown, New Belgium Brewing Co.
AHA member Mike Formisano's nut brown recipe is no stranger to the competitive homebrewing circuit. The recipe that would eventually become Charlie's Brown took gold in the 2011 National Homebrew Competition and was selected as a Pro-Am entry by Oskar Blues Brewery and submitted in the 2012 competition.
"I've tweaked the malt profile just a bit because I wanted the beer to have a bit more nuttiness in the profile, but the hops and yeast are the same since I created the recipe in 2011," says Formisano.
Fort Collins, Colo.-based New Belgium Brewing Co. partakes in the Pro-Am competition to pay homage to their homebrew roots. "We are homebrewers, and homebrewers are the foundation of the American craft brewing industry," shares Cody Hull, New Belgium brewer. Fat Tire, New Belgium's flagship amber ale, started as a homebrew recipe.
Bronze | Oatmeal Stout, Upslope Brewing Co.
Uplsope Brewing Co. in Boulder, Colo. has participated in the Pro-Am competition since 2009, and after finding AHA member Derek Ordway's oatmeal stout at the local homebrew club competition they knew they'd be entering again. Alex Violette and Sam Scruby of Upslope recognized the quality of the oatmeal stout and its adherence to the style guidelines, which made it the perfect selection for the collaboration.
Ordway has been tweaking his oatmeal stout for years now, while enjoying the various outcomes from manipulating ingredients and the brewing process. "Sam wanted to make sure we could replicate the homebrew as close as we could, so there weren't many differences," says Ordway in regards to his winning recipe.
Upslope Brewing Co. already has another batch of Ordway's oatmeal stout scheduled to be brewed and served at their Boulder, Colo. taprooms.