Jim was on hand for the announcement and recognized the winners as a few of the most talented homebrewers in the country. The level of enthusiasm for homebrewing and brewing craft beer is at an all-time high in America. One indicator is that the craft beer landscape has exploded into more than 2,500 craft breweries across the country, compared to the 83 that existed during the 1980s when Jim first got his start. The morning was filled with great discussion around regional homebrew clubs, what beers are on-tap for future homebrews, and we even heard a few attendees talking about a future collaboration beer in the future! That kind of creativity and collaboration is what craft beer is all about.
A big, malty Stout with notes of chocolate and coffee, Russ Brunner’s American Stout carries a velvety finish with notes of roasted cocoa. The LongShot judges were drawn to the richness of this stout and balanced taste, with hints of citrus and pine from the American hops adding a subtle bitterness. Russ shared that while he had been homebrewing for three years, this Stout was the first recipe he created on his own.
Perhaps the most unique style, Cesar Marron’s Grätzer (Grätzer was added to the 2013 Beer Style Guidelines earlier this year), is a light, Polish smoked wheat beer. This brew packs a punch of smoky sweet flavor from the heirloom smoked malt, and spicy and herbal notes from Saaz hops. Cesar says he drew inspiration for this unique recipe from a strong interest in the unusual, yet traditional, style.
Representing the Samuel Adams employees with a winning homebrew is Teresa Bury’s Pineapple India Pale Ale. This IPA is brewed with four different American hops that pack a punch of grapefruit character we’ve come to expect from these types of hops. However, Teresa’s version provides mellow and complementary tropical fruit notes from the addition of real pineapples. We were interested to learn that Theresa had made it a personal challenge to brew a beer that carried a strong hop flavor but that was also balanced with her favorite fruit, pineapple. As she said, “I’ve been brewing beers to fit friends and family’s tastes for years, and I decided one day to brew one that fit my style.”
While we wait for these three brews to hit shelves next spring in the special LongShot variety 6-pack, we’ll be watching to see what these homebrewers brew next. Perhaps one of them could join the ranks of Bob Gordash (winner of the 1996 LongShot Homebrew Contest) and Don Oliver (winner of the 2006 Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Contest) who have gone on to become professional brewers.
Congratulations to our three winners and to the more than 1,000 homebrewers who sent in entries! The passion for craft beer is stronger than ever because of the community of homebrewers who put so much time and effort into their craft, pushing the boundaries of better tasting beer.