If you’ve never attended a meeting of a local homebrewing club or had the chance to taste award winning entries from local homebrew competitions, you likely have no idea just how good some of the beers being produced by scores of San Diego amateurs are. It doesn’t take a commercial rig to make fine beer, just know-how, quality ingredients, and attention to detail.
Nearly every professional brewer starts out cooking up batches of beer in their kitchen. Many of the 20-plus breweries which have recently opened or are gearing up for near horizon debuts are homebrewers looking to take their recreational pursuit to the professional ranks.
Thanks to several San Diego breweries holding homebrew competitions, local amateurs can get a taste of the big time without putting up the capital for their own sudsy start-up. Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits organized one with the San Diego Padres that’s currently in swing, Stone Brewing Co. just wrapped one that resulted in a mint chocolate imperial stout they’ll produce with homebrewer Ken Schmidt and Iron Fist Brewing Company, and Karl Strauss Brewing Company just announced the winner of their Great American Beer Festival Pro Am Homebrew Competition.
The company received 43 entries. The diverse field included takes on traditional styles as well as daring attempts like a cookie ale, chocolate rye hemp ale, and sour saison. In the end, a panel of brewers, Karl Strauss QC technicians, and certified Cicerones (the beer equivalent of a sommelier) selected Jim Roberts’ South Park Nut Brown Ale as the best of the bunch. Second and third place went to Dan Smith for his OTP IPA, and Andrew Bell for his Hop Charmer II IPA, respectively.
South Park Nut Brown Ale will be brewed on a seven-barrel system and be made available for sale later this year. Additionally, as the name of the competition implies, it will find its way to the Great American Beer Festival, the largest annual beer festival in the US, where it will be entered in the GABF Pro-Am Competition and vie for supremacy against other professional/amateur collaboration beers produced throughout the country. That event will take place in Denver in October.