Thursday, November 12, 2015

Happy Veterans Day! - Operation Bravo Recap

This Wednesday is Veterans day, and for those of us who have not served in the armed forces, it is immensely important to acknowledge and thank everyone who has. I have had the pleasure and honor of knowing several fine Americans who put their life on the line to protect our country, regardless of personal beliefs or who happened to be in the white house at the time. To all of my friends and family who serve and who have served, thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping the American way of life alive.

We celebrated our Veterans this past weekend by participating in the Operation Bravo Homebrew Competition and Hero Appreciation Event hosted by Homebrew for Heroes and Shannon Brewing Company. For those of you that recall our post about Deep Ellum's homebrew competition, this contest was very similar. Brewers entered one beer each for judging according to the BJCP guidelines, and the three best beers were awarded third, second, and first place in a best of show ranking. Nearly thirty brewers entered a beer into the competition, and from the several I tasted, North Texas knows how to brew!

Busted out the Beerhemoth for another great homebrew competition

We are very lucky to be homebrewers in the internet age, having access to the best available information with just a click. Not only that, but I met several folks who have spread the knowledge and passion for brewing to their neighbors and family members. And let me tell ya, they are making some awesome beer! I sampled a nice British mild and American IPA, a great brown ale, an amazing grapefruit farmhouse brett beer, a great wheat, and some delectable vanilla bourbon porter during the event.

We got the opportunity to serve our homebrew to Veterans and brewery guests all afternoon, and I was personally impressed with the discerning palates of these beer fans! Many were picking out the chocolate and coffee notes in our Rio Bravo Porter while commenting on the lighter-than-expected body and dry finish. Along with the porter (our competition entry), we brought our Zombie Dust clone batch for the hop heads to enjoy. We promptly ran out of the porter (okay, maybe we sampled some of it watching Aggie football over the past few weeks), and urged a few self-admitted IPA haters to give this brew a shot. To their credit, these folks were able to appreciate the massive citrus character exploding out of their glass and weren't so caught up in the "I don't like hoppy beers" mantra. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table to try our homebrew!

No finer a view to be found than craft beer fans enjoying your homebrew

I want to hand out a few special thanks to some people who made Saturday so great. Kyle Nelson, another Aggie homebrewer and beer blogger, was gracious enough to host me under his canopy since I arrived a little later than planned. Kyle is an accomplished homebrewer who took home Gold at the Deep Ellum Labor of Love Homebrew Competition a few months ago for his stellar Saison. Kyle brought an outstanding Belgian Quad to this competition for entry in the Stong Dark Belgian category. Being only a few feet away, I was able to sample this fine brew more than once that afternoon, and each sip was better than the last. As a BJCP judge in attendance suggested, this fine beer will only get better with age. Thank you Kyle for helping make this event unforgettable. I hope we get the chance to homebrew together very soon! Y'all should go check out his blog for great write-ups and recipes:

I also want to give a shout out to one of my friends, Charles Medina, who is a dyed in the wool craft beer fan. Your positive attitude, assistance during my many beer sampling (and let's be honest, beer "recycling" breaks), and just your general enthusiasm gave me the energy and help I needed to make it through the afternoon. Thank you brother. Can't wait to brew with you either!

The face of a real craft beer fan, Charles Medina

Now on to the nitty gritty. Competition. As much fun as it was to swap brews and ingredients with the other homebrewers and participate in the collaborative spirit of homebrewing, someone had to walk away with the hardware at the end of the day. As I mentioned before, the top three beers were ranked in a best of show presentation. In addition to the best of show category, homebrewers pouring at the event had the opportunity to bargain, advertise, and ultimately woo the craft beer fans in attendance into casting their vote for fan favorite. The winner gets their homebrew recipe immortalized in a homebrew kit marketed as "Picked by Heroes" nationwide. Look for this one on your local homebrew store shelves soon for a chance to recreate your favorite hand crafted beer!

The first, second, and third place winners of the best in show awards were all given some pretty awesome hardware. Each winning brewer left with a Homebrew for Heroes growler with a complimentary fill from Shannon's taproom, a gift certificate to Stubby's Homebrew Shop in Haltom City, and a .50 caliber bullet bottle opener that turns into a tap handle from Bullets2Bandages. These were some pretty generous and amazing prizes.

Some mighty fine hardware, I do declare

Okay, I've stalled long enough. New Main Brewing's Rio Bravo Porter won first place in Best of Show for the event! In addition to the outstanding prize pack I just mentioned, we now get to do a Pro-Am (professional - amateur) brew session with Shannon Carter! This collaboration beer will be produced on their commercial system, and in the very near future it will be commercially available. Not only that, but that beer will be entered into the 2016 Great American Beer Festival competition in Denver, Colorado as part of the national Pro-Am Competition. You bet your hat we're planning on going!

These are very exciting times for New Main Brewing. We are very fortunate and very blessed to be able to share our passion for brewing with all of you. We are also among the luckiest people in the world to be able to live in this country that is so well defended and honored by its service members. To each and every hero out there, from the bottom of our hearts, Thank You.