Contest: RiverRoots Brewoff

Posted: May 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

A few weeks ago, I entered my first competition, the RiverRoots Brew-off in Madison, IN. I discovered this contest on their website, after I bought my tickets to the event. The contest limited styles to only American ales, category 10, taking only Pale ales, Amber ales, and brown ales. I happened to have both in my fridge, so with no entry fee, I drove them up there to enter.

Results were announced yesterday. My brown ale, the Earle Brown Ale, I knew was very young. It was still conditioning when I entered it, and was not brewed to compete. I put it together based on this NHC award winning recipe, combined with Jamil’s brown. I also wanted something my wife would enjoy, so I kept the hop bill in check.

This brown finished in third, scoring 29.7. Judges thought it was very drinkable, but not to style. It needed a bigger, more complex malt aroma, flavor, and finish. One judge stated these were reversed for the style. I’m not sure, but I believe they will come through with time and conditioning. I’m tempted to enter it again in a few months to see how it develops.

My other entry, the WC Handy Pale Ale, has had lots of time to condition. It was a bit over hopped, but I figured the time let the hops mellow a bit. It must have worked because this beer won the category and was named Best in Show, scoring a 40! Judges liked the aggressive hops, huge aroma, and malt balance. One noted it was almost an IPA, which it probably was, but it scored very well with flavor. Mostly flawless technique was noted too.

The funny thing with this beer is that it was brewed before I had fermentation control. It fermented on a nice cool week in a closet in my old house. Just happen to be perfect conditions that week. Moreover, I intended to use a different hop bill, as seen in Movement 2, but the LBHS was out of warrior. I made a last minute substitution, and this is better than that version!

Overall, I’m obviously excited by the results. Even had things not gone well, I think the experience of competing would have been positive. I didn’t get much help to take to my brewing, except to continue doing what I am doing, and to keep learning as I try new flavors. But, I can now claim “Award Winning Brewer” as one of my accomplishments in this hobby. Very cool, indeed!