One night there was Rhubarb Blonde Ale, Peanut Butter Chocolate Porter and Lavender Orange-blossom Mead. Another night there was Chocolate Cherry Stout, Curry Export Stout, and Vanilla Storm Imperial Porter. Only one thing separates these crazy beers which you probably instantly recognized as nutty sounding homebrews. Three of those were poured during the American Homebrewers Association’s recent National Homebrewers Conference on homebrewers club night, and three were available for tasting during pro-brewers night as pro-am beers. If you can’t guess which was which, there’s a good reason.
Not only were 7,000 homebrews judged in competition, but also over 700 kegs were on site at the conference (just one ounce of each beer, mead, or cider equaled around 45 pints). That doesn’t include the pro-ams. Professional brewers love making them because the level of creativity in homebrewing is unsurpassed and the skill sometimes parallels that on a commercial level. Furthermore, nearly every braumeister or brewster is a former homebrewer who simply made the leap.
Of all the fascinating seminars at the conference designed to help homebrewers become better, there was one panel for those looking to start their own brewery, be it a nanobrewery, micro, or brewpub. One panelist, Patrick Rue from The Bruery, is a stellar example of how someone can dash a prosperous career (in his case, he nearly went the lawyer route) for guaranteed ulcers and stressful, sleepless nights as part of the adventures of making beer. Erin Glass moderated the Going Pro panel. She’s not only the Brewers Association’s Membership Coordinator, she’s also the in-house Brewery Detective, sniffing out all the new craft breweries. When she asked who in the audience aspired to open a brewery, almost 500 hands went up (there were around 500 sets of hands in the room). When she asked who had already started the paperwork filing with the TTB, meaning those not just whistling Dixie but really making a go of it, around 20 percent continued to raise the roof.
Have you had homebrew that was just as good as the stuff you buy in bottles or on draft? Do you ever look for pro-ams at your local brewpub? Who knows—next time you see one, order a pint and one day you can say, “I drank them when.”