Around 70 people showed up this past Saturday for the spring-break-themed homebrew competition at Riverside Market in Fort Lauderdale, where local amateur brewers (in the noncommercial sense) tapped more than a dozen kegs to compete for cash and bragging rights.
Myself, Lauren Bowen of Harpoon Brewery, Adam Fine of Native Brewing Co., Ian Salzberg of Brown Distributing, and Ryan Sentz of Funky Buddha Brewery all joined Julian Siegel in the painstaking task of judging the beers put on offer.
The beers themselves ranged from spicy porters to fruity blonds to Belgian-inspired abbey ales and everything in between. Though some had noticeable flaws and off flavors, a few stood out from all the rest.
Homebrewers Midnight City took home a top-place finish with their Summer Cucumber Ale, which was a well-executed vegetable brew, while Angry Union gathered up both a second-place finish and people's choice with its Not So Common California Common, a hoppy IPL-type beer.
Also present were entries from Opus Ales, Holy Waters Brewing, and 403 Brewing Co.
Above, the judges table. Lots and lots of beer samples.
Interested in taking the plunge into brewing at home yourself? It's a hobby that can be highly rewarding and brings you to the forefront of the craft beer scene. Personally, I find it helps in understanding what exactly is going on inside a beer and helps to refine your analytical mind when it comes to noticing off-flavors in commercial beers, understanding the nuances of beer styles, and (once you get invested in it) provides a cheap source of beer customized your way.
Who knows? Maybe next time you'll be holding up the golden trophy and taking home a nice chunk of change.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.