About a month ago, I came across a post from an event planning company (Simply Events) on a Facebook beer forum asking for homebrewers to participate in their event in Safety Harbor, FL called the Beer and Burger Throwdown. I’ve never served my beer to the general public. Usually to enter competitions or festivals, you need to be a member of a homebrew club, of which I’m not. I have 3 of my own kids and a future stepdaughter, so I have little time to attend meetings. I’m lucky that I even have time to brew. But in this case, there was no such requirement. It didn’t cost me a thing and the registration was simple. So I decided to take the plunge. Attendees would be able to vote for their favorite homebrewer and the winner would get a little trophy and some bragging rights. There were also four burger joints in attendance and they were vying for the title of Best Burger. And there were numerous other vendors hawking their wares. This took place at a marina park on the bay on a beautiful sunny day (you’ll see the water in the picture backgrounds).
Three homebrewers ended up attending, including myself. There was another beer festival going on that same day elsewhere, so that may have limited the homebrewer turnout. One of the homebrewers brought a honey kolsch and a brown ale. The other had a strong scotch ale and a chocolate stout. All were solid beers. Since I learned about this event late, I was just bringing what I happened to have: about 11 bottles of 2B’s Bourbon Ale, 20 bottles of Regalic Saison and a full 5 gallon batch’s worth of Rye Tymes Ale, which had just finished bottle conditioning.
The bourbon ale lasted for a couple of hours and during that time, it was getting the most compliments out of the three. But all three were being really well received. Erika was there to help me serve and I’m sure her smile and friendly charm didn’t hurt our chances. In general, women tended to like the Regalic and the Rye. When I mentioned a wine/beer hybrid, their eyes tended to light up. Most men and a few women really liked the bourbon. By the way, the rye came out very nice, smooth and clean. The rye was a little more prominent this time around than in previous batches.
Erika’s dad stopped by for a little bit to lend support. Our friends Rick and Amy also came by for the last few hours to check it out and spend some time manning the table and giving me a break.
Regalic lasted for about 4 hours and the Rye was kicked about 10 minutes before the close of voting. In all, we were serving from 11am to just short of 5pm. It was a long day but an incredible experience. And to my astonishment, I won the award by 4 votes. Talk about a positive affirmation! All I can say is, “That’s pretty fucking cool!” I personally didn’t think that the saison and the bourbon were close to my best beers, but it ended up that the mix of the three played well to this particular crowd. The attendees had some beer geeks among them, but most were more casual beer drinkers, and I think that might have played to my advantage. The down side……all my beer is gone. Time to start another batch.
On a side note: A couple of young men had come up to our table and tasted our beers. They asked if there was any wheat in the 2B’s Bourbon Ale. I said no and rattled off the grain bill to the best of my memory. They were surprised. Then one of them came back a little later and we chatted briefly. He again brought up that he was surprised there was no wheat in the bourbon because of it’s smoothness. After the event, I started second guessing my memory and looked up my recipe. Lo and behold, there was 6% malted light wheat in the grain bill. I have about 15 recipes and I totally forgot there was wheat in this one. So I feel bad for giving bad info to these guys and having them second guessing their palates. But I’m totally blown away by how good their palates actually are. I mean, how in the world could they pick that out, and be so confident, especially with the bourbon note possibly obscuring it? That’s a complete gift that I wish I had.