(Durango, CO) — Judging has been completed in Ska Brewing’s Fourth Annual GABF Pro-Am Homebrew Competition, and Pam Bradley has won the “Best In Show” gold medal for her Weizenbock “On The Sly Again,” which was entered in the German Wheat and Rye Beer category.
Winning the overall gold earns Bradley the opportunity to have her beer entered in the Pro-Am Category of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) – the nation’s largest beer competition. The beer will also be brewed on a commercial scale for release as part of Ska’s popular Local Series, which features limited release beers distributed in Durango and Southwest Colorado. Bradley will also have the chance to participate in the commercial scaling of her recipe when Ska flies her to Durango to take part in the brewing process.
“I’ve entered a lot of competitions with my husband in the past, but this was my first solo entry,” said Bradley. “The competitions that send someone to the GABF Pro-Am are pretty tough to win, so I’m really excited about this.” Bradley is a 12-year member of the Austin (Texas) Zealots Homebrew Club, and joined the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) in 2007. According to AHA Director Gary Glass, women comprised only 5% of their total membership in 2010, but the number of female members has been growing rapidly. “Our most recent survey was in 2010, but that number is probably closer to 10% now,” said Glass.
Bradley is the first woman to win gold in the four years Ska has held the competition. Ms. Bradley also won three other individual medals: gold in the Scottish and Irish Ale category, silver in the American Pale Ale category, and bronze for the American Ale category. Also making a strong showing in the overall results was Thomas Malowski, who won both the silver and bronze overall medals – silver for “Joe,” his entry in the Light Lager category, and bronze in the Strong Ale category for his American Barleywine “Dilator Pupillae.”
As Ska’s Overlord of Brewing Operations Bill Graham notes, the competition was more intense than ever: “There were very few beers that really missed the mark this year. Not only that, but competitors took on styles that are very difficult to produce at home, and in spite of that they turned in some incredibly complex and true-to-style results. It seems like homebrewers as a whole right now are brewing at the highest level we’ve seen.”
Like many American craft breweries, Ska Brewing has its own roots in homebrewing: Ska was formed when Ska co-founders Bill Graham and Dave Thibodeau heard about a homebrew party in Durango and decided to show up, unannounced, with a keg of their own homebrew. The host of the party turned out to be Matt Vincent, a young punk of a homebrewer who, a year later, would join Thibodeau and Graham as an equal partner in the fledgling brewery.
“This is one of our favorite events,” said Graham. “We stay close to the homebrewing community because it has the kind of ‘DIY’ spirit and passion for brewing that has always driven us.”