I was in Minneapolis last month for the National Homebrewers Conference and woke up way too early with a case of major beer shits. So I decided to hit the lobby’s bathroom instead of fucking up our room. Sitting there taking care of business I got the call from my dude Brian at O’Fallon Brewery. He sampled an American IPA that I brought to our last homebrew club meeting (Garage Brewers Society) and started going through a list of questions before he asked me if I wanted to collaborate on a beer with the brewery for the Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am competition.
Like I would say no.
The major rules for the comp are the beer being judged must be commercially available and based on a recipe from a homebrewer’s beer that placed 1st-3rd in an BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) sanctioned competition. Also, the homebrewer must have been an AHA member on the competition date. It was close but I just managed to renew my AHA membership 7 days before the competition and I took second place in our club’s first annual Champion of the Pint homebrew competition this past April.
The morning that Brian called me was the last day to enter a beer into the competition so we had to look through the recipe and we figured out it would work on their system. This beer is pretty much amazing. For the beer nerds it’s all late hop additions (hop bursted with only 30 minute and under additions of columbus, centennial and simcoe and a massive dry hop of the same) and runs about 60 IBU with a super dry finish around 1.010 or 2.5 plato. My scaled-up recipe won’t allow us to brew up a full 15-barrel batch since there’s a shitload of aroma and flavor hops, therefore we’re only going for a half batch.
This Friday I’m heading over to O’Fallon Brewery to get learned on brewing on a professional scale. Since his call, I’ve brewed a couple small 5-gallon batches to mimic their process and equipment and further dial it in. The brewery’s batch should be ready just in time to be shipped to Colorado in mid-August for the mid-September festival. I’m not sure why the judges want the beer sitting for a month so we’ve planned the brew date accordingly to get maximum hop freshness out of the beer. My homebrew batches seem to peak in flavor around 8-10 weeks from the brew date so we should be in good shape. A few local beer nerd bars will have the ability to buy some of this “Sweet Nectar IPA” and I’m sure we’ll have a release party somewhere with it. I get to take a keg of it home which is pretty cool, too.
The experience is going to be amazing but these are hard shoes to fill. Last year, Jim Yeager (fellow GBS club member) and O’Fallon won second place in the comp. We’ll just see how this goes and hopefully we’ll bring home a medal once again.