Here’s the link to an article I wrote for Chattanooga Magazine. Enjoy.
Need something to do for Groundhog Day instead of watching some obese rodent with a falsified meteorology degree flub a weather forecast? Get on over to Chattanooga Brewing Company for their Barrel Aged Tap Takeover.
So back in October, I had the opprotunity to brew one of my recipes at Chattanooga Brewing Company by virtue of winning their Pro-Am Brewing Competition that they hold twice a year with The Barley Mob, Chattanooga’s Homebrew Club. CBC is a great supporter of homebrewing and craft beer, and they open their brewhouse to a local homebrewer twice a year. For their fall Pro-Am, they asked for Porter recipes and I was both surprised and excited to have my brew chosen out of 13 entries.
Special thanks to Mark, Jonathan, Rivers, and the whole CBC crew for a great brew day. It was a blast to brew a production sized batch on their awesome brewhouse. My entry was a fairly traditional Robust Porter recipe with just a touch of Cascade hops to give it a nice chocolate and citrus blend:
Scott’s Barley Mob Porter
10 lbs 6 oz 2 Row Malt
1 lb Munich Malt
12 oz Crystal 40
4 oz English Chocolate Malt
6 oz Carafa III Special Dehusked Malt
1 oz East Kent Goldings @ 60 minutes
.4 oz Cascade @ 60 minutes
1 oz Fuggles @ 15 minutes
.2 oz Cascade @ 15 minutes
1 oz Willamette @ Flameout
.2 oz Cascade @ Flameout
34.6 IBU 33.8 SRM 1.063 OG Mash @ 152
I believe this batch is history. There may be a keg or two remaining around town. There is a Wild Turkey barrel aged version that will be part of CBC’s Groundhog Day Tap Takeover extravaganza that begins next week. Get you some. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Admittedly, the title of this post is perhaps a bit misleading. Stick with me, though. Reading this is not going to guarantee a win, but it might help your chances in your next Pro-Am.
Many craft breweries hold Pro-Am competitions and give homebrewers the chance to brew full size versions of their recipes in a production brewery and to have their winning beer served on tap to the beer loving public. It’s a great opportunity to share your talents with a wider audience. Not to mention the street cred you’ll enjoy from your fellow brewers.
I was fortunate enough to have my Robust Porter recipe selected by Chattanooga Brewing Company at their Fall 2015 Pro-Am, which afforded me the opportunity to help judge their Spring Pro-AM, which was held on January 18. I have previously judged beers at a few BJCP homebrew competitions, but this was my first time judging a Pro-Am competition. The approach is similar, but there are some additional concerns that come into play that you should be mindful of. I’m sure there are Pro-Ams whose criteria and judging are structured differently, so don’t take my advice as absolute, rather consider the factors at play beyond brewing good beer.
That said, Brew Good Beer
It probably goes without saying, but let’s not overlook the obvious. If you participate in BJCP homebrewing competitions, you know that a winning brew should be well executed with no discernable faults. Off flavors, aromas, and infections are deal killers. While strict adherance to style guidelines is usually less of a factor in a Pro-Am, the fundamentals of good brewing still apply.
Believe it or not, your local brewery may not necessarily be able to procure all the ingredients available to you as a homebrewer. Keep that in mind when planning your recipe. Choose ingredients that are readily available or that have available substitutes. Experimental or exotic hops might pose a problem. Also beware of ingredients that will be cost prohibitive when scaled up to a 10-15 barrel batch. Your saffron IPA may be very tasty, but the brewery may balk at buying a pound of for a one-off brew.
Your best Winter Warmer or Oktoberfest may not fare too well if for a summer release. Ask the brewery when they plan to brew and tap the winning recipe. If you are brewing a seasonal beer, make sure its appropriate for the time of year when it will be served.
Get to know the tap list of the brewery who is hosting the Pro-Am. Taste every beer on the wall. Be sure your entry either contrasts or somehow complements the brewery’s selections. Also check out the winning selections of the previous competition. There’s a good chance that, for the sake of variety, they may not choose the same style beer in back to back Pro-Ams.
Avoid the Sours
Unless the brewery already has a sour program, leave the bugs at home. Most breweries will be reluctant to introduce wild yeasts and bacteria into their brewhouse and many times they will specify that sour beers not be entered into competition at all.
Ask the Brewmaster
Lastly, get to know the brewery and the brewers there. If they care enough about homebrewing to host a Pro-Am, they are likely happy to answer your questions about ingredient availabililty, process, and their beer philosophy in general.
When you plan your next Pro-Am competition entry, remember this: They are likely not looking for just the “best” beer. They are looking for the beer that excites and inspires them and one that they want to share with their customers. Now all you have to do is brew it. Good luck!
Just finished bottling two more beers for competition. My first two competitions for 2016 will be Extravaganza!, hosted by Bluff City Brewers and Connoissurs in Memphis and Peach State Brew Off, presented by Covert Hops Society. I’m hoping to improve my medals per year ratio to something above the 1:1 I’ve enjoyed the past two years.
I’m hoping that if the quality of my brews doesn’t get the job done, I can make something up in quantity. I’m entering five beers for these first two competitions:
- Munich Dunkel
- Amarillo/El Dorado American Pale Ale
- Saison inspired table beer
The Schwarzbier and Munich Dunkel are my first lagers ever, so I’m especially looking forward to feedback on them.
Any competitions coming up for you? What are your entries?
Like a tree falling in the woods, brew day doesn’t actually happen if you dont take photos and blog about it. So I’m not quite sure what to make of the Munich Dunkel that was brewed yesterday. Here I am posting about it without any actual photographic evidence of what transpired.
The batch went very smoothly and some good conversation with a brew buddy put snapping photos way on down the priority list.
Yesterday’s batch was number 20 for 2015. I hope to sneak in a couple more before the end of the year. Next up: Barleywine.
Wyeast Bavarian Lager 2206 to be specific. Thanks to Hutton & Smith Brewing Company for the hookup. They put a nice sized pitch in a growler for me from their batch of “Way Bock When.”
I harvested this jar from a Schwarzbier that I kegged on Friday and repitched it into a Munich Dunkel I brewed yesterday. Once that batch is done I’ll use it once again for a Cascadian Dark Lager. If such a thing even exists.