GABF Pro-Am with Revelry Brewing

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Back in May I wrote about some of the competitions that we had recently won and how exciting it was to get some validation on a few of our brews. There was one thing that was an unexpected consequence of those wins that will hopefully have some impact on our commercial endeavors.

Not too long after the Colonial Cup competition I received a message from the director of the contest asking if Pearce and I would be interested in teaming up with Revelry Brewing, a local commercial brewer here in Charleston, to brew our category first place winning Hefeweizen for the GABF Pro-Am. The guys at Revelry are brewing really great beers and we have said from day one that of all of the breweries in Charleston, they would be the ones we most looked up to.

If you don’t already know, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is the Mecca of beer festivals and competitions in the U S of A. Breweries are put on the map when they win medals here. Being a homebrewer and getting the chance to brew one of our recipes to then send to this competition is a dream come true. There are over 7,000 entries accepted to the commercial side of the competition. There are only 96 entries accepted to the Pro-Am. In order to even apply the homebrewers must have a first place finish in a BJCP certified competition AND then they must be ASKED by the commercial brewer.

Needless to say, we jumped at the opportunity to brew with Revelry and enter our award-winning Wise One Hefeweizen into the competition.

Long story short, we brewed a 20 barrel batch of Wise One a couple of weeks ago. We packaged up the competition bottles and kegs and sent them off to Denver and that left us we a good bit of beer to spread around town.

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If you happen to be in the Charleston area this coming weekend, please head over to Revelry Brewing and raise a glass of commercial and amateur collaboration to a GABF Pro-Am Medal! It will also be making its way around town, so if you see it at a restaurant or taproom, let us know what you think!

Also, here are a couple of local articles written about it!

City Paper (#FUPlyler)

Post & Courier

 

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Cleaning Up the Competitions

Sorry.
It has been a few weeks since the last post. There has been a lot going on but nothing that truly warrants a status update…EXCEPT…

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Oh yeah.  These too…

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We entered 5 beers into the American Homebrewer’s Association National Homebrew Competition and took home certificate honors with 3 of them. We also took a first place ribbon with our Hefeweizen. Then not a week after getting that news, we took another first place with the same beer in our local homebrew competition, the Lowcountry Libations Colonial Cup…

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I talked about how my personal view of competitions has changed since deciding to go commercial in the post called Award Winning Homebrewers. I have to admit that entering competitions and getting feedback is great, but winning ribbons is even better.

With all of that being said, I know that many of you are wondering why we haven’t actually been posting any information about the processes that we are going through in planning this brewery and how we are going to open doors to the public. All I can ask is that you have patience. We are actively pursuing, negotiating, planning, and working towards that goal and the next few posts will give you a taste of what the planning process is like and where we are in that process.

In the meantime, I greatly appreciate your support of our endeavors. If you would like to take the next step in helping us realize our vision, please consider purchasing a t-shirt or some stickers. Thank you guys!

 

 

Getting Our Hands Dirty

I have gotten some really great feedback recently from readers and people following our journey. The recurring feedback from numerous folks after last week’s post about taking a brewing course was that “school learning” is no substitute for hands-on experience. I could not agree with you more. You guys just didn’t give me a chance to tell you about it yet…

IMG_2596I met Chris Winn from Tradesman Brewing this past year. He was one of those guys that would show up in People You Might Know on Facebook. One day I checked out his profile and realized that we had SEVERAL friends in common from SEVERAL different social groups, the most glaring being the cycling community and the local beer community. I was wondering how we had so many mutual friends and had not really crossed paths. As if his ears were burning, I got a friend request from him and accepted that same week.

Not too long after that, I reached out to him and asked if he ever needed any help at the brewery. My schedule was flexible and I was willing to come put in some hours. He told me that I was welcome anytime. The first time I went was a week after Thanksgiving. Pearce was out of town that week so he wasn’t able to make it, but I went ahead. I met Chris at the brewery at the butt-crack of dawn that day, and he and Scott (co-owner and head brewer) proceeded to put me to work. From sun up to sun down, they let me do as much as I was willing, which was everything at that point. Even though the day was long and the work was not easy, I knew that the smell of grains cooking and converting was a future I would be happy with.

So for the past few months, Pearce and I have been putting in hours when we were able. Chris (and Eulie and Scott too) has been teaching and giving us opportunities to learn the business from the ground up. Brewing is such a small part of actually running a brewery and we have been learning about all of the aspects. Crushing, mashing, brewing, cooling, transferring, propagating, pitching, fermenting, harvesting, cleaning, sanitizing, crashing, carbonating, kegging, packaging, distributing, ordering, managing, travelling and especially tasting… I even got to go work the World Beer Festival in Columbia, SC with these guys.

The beer community in Charleston is really awesome and it seems like almost ALL of the brewers and beer folk in this town are great and willing to help each other succeed. I want to thank Chris, Scott and Eulie for giving us the opportunity to get our hands dirty and learn more about the business that we want to be a part of. If you are local readers then please stop in at Tradesman and give a high five to the crew for being so awesome and willing to let us be a part.

Award Winning Homebrewers

This past week, we won our first homebrew competition.

I had not been super concerned with entering competitions until recently. When we first got started brewing, it was all about having fun and making great beer. I sort of felt like I didn’t need some “certified judge” telling me what might or might not be technically wrong with the beer we were making as long as we liked it and our friends liked it.

mericas-mugThat attitude changed when we decided to pursue going commercial. Pearce convinced me that entering competitions wasn’t about validation of our recipes. It was truly about learning from qualified people AND bolstering our reputation as brewers. At this point, we have no street cred in the brewing community and we are really rookie want-to-be-brewers.  If we enter some competitions and fail to impress the judges, then we will be able to take the critical feedback that they give us and improve our product. If we enter and win ribbons… well, that at least validates that we aren’t dolts.

Our first competition was the Savannah Brewers League ‘Merica’s Mug competition. This one crossed our radar a bit too late and instead of preparing and entering beers brewed specifically for the competition, we entered the two beers that we had on hand at the time. One was a heavily Mosaic hopped American Pale Ale that for some reason I entered as an American IPA. The other was an aggressive and seriously strong double IPA. Both of the beers had slight flaws that we knew about. The APA was sweeter than intended and the DIPA was not quite where we wanted it either. Regardless, we thought they were pretty damn good. The judges, on the other hand, thought differently. They provided detailed feedback about the flaws in the beers. Both beers were deemed to have had issues with fermentation control which may have led to off-flavors. The first beer was not entered in the correct category and it was considered too “fruity” and sweet with not enough hop character.  The second beer was considered “pleasant” yet not hoppy enough by one judge and “not a good example” by the other and was deemed to have a possible diacetyl issue… Live and learn. In all seriousness, though, we took the feedback from the judges as constructive and it will lead to a better understanding of brewing in future batches.

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After digesting the feedback we tightened our processes and really dialed in our fermentation temperature control. We studied a little more about what made beer better. We kept brewing and kept tweaking our process.

IMG_3335So we entered two beers into a regional homebrew competition called Brewtopia 2.2 several weeks ago. This is NOT your typical homebrew competition where you can enter any BJCP style beer, but rather a very specific brewing competition. The rules stated that we could submit ANY type of beer as long as primary fermentation was accomplished by a French Saison yeast (specifically Wyeast 3711 or WLP590.) Pearce and I were excited about the opportunity to take things out of the box a bit. We developed a recipe for a Saison aged on vanilla beans and figs as well as a Saison d’Hiver (a Winter Saison) brewed with winter vegetables and aged on beets. Raise your hand if you are thirsty. We totally over did it with the beets on the Saison d’Hiver and we knew it, but we entered it anyway because WTH not? I was pretty pumped about the Vanilla Fig Saison though. It turned out really nice.
I have realized that this post is much longer than I wanted it to be so I will leave it at this… We took 1st Place with the Vanilla Fig and 4th place with the Saison d’Hiver. We won our first homebrew competition. Does this mean we will become award winning commercial brewers? No. But at least we know that we are building a foundation to become great brewers.

If you are a homebrewer and you HAVEN’T entered a competition yet, let me challenge you to do so. Go fo BJCP certified competitions, if possible, or ones with a reputation for providing scoring sheets. The resulting feedback from the judges will make you a better brewer.