The City of Brotherly Love became the City of Homebrewers this past weekend, when over 3,400 of the hobbyists descended upon Philadelphia for the 35th Annual National Homebrewers Conference. This yearly event is the pinnacle of competitive brewing, where homebrewers vie for bronze, silver, and gold medals in 28 beer, cider, and mead categories.
The aim of the conference, hosted by the American Homebrewer's Association, is to award the top prizes to beers that hit the style marks as close to perfect as possible. How does that work? Each beer category has a list of acceptable aromas, flavors, and characteristics, governed by the AHA and the Beer Judge Certification Program. A 'European Amber Lager', for example, will have a "Moderately rich German malt aroma" and "Some toasted character from the use of Vienna malt. No roasted or caramel flavor."