Thursday, August 22, 2013

Interview With The Arvada Beer Company 2013 Pro-Am Winner Brian Hoesing

Lincoln homebrewer Brian Hoesing recently won a homebrew competition held by Arvada Beer Company in Arvada, Colorado.  The grand prize was the opportunity to brew the winning recipe on their professional system to be later entered into the Great American Beer Festival's Pro-Am competition.  We had the chance to catch up with Brian after he returned home from his big brew day.

What was it like to brew on their system?

Awesome.  It is always a joy brewing on a commercial scale.  This was the first time I have brewed for the GABF Pro-Am.  I had a great day at Arvada Beer Company.   Cary Floyd is the owner/brewer.  He began as a homebrewer and has won multiple awards.  Cary and the crew were great hosts.  They stayed very true to the recipe, which I am appreciative of.  Things went smoothly.  We hit all of our numbers from the orginal recipe.

Next year Arvada and several small Denver breweries are planning a pro-am competition through the KROC homebrew club out of Denver to select multiple beers for the GABF Pro-Am.  Similar to the Liquid Poets competition, if anyone is interested.

Hopefully, this beer will fare well at the GABF Pro-Am and be representative of Cary and my efforts.

What type of beer did you brew?

"Sinister Minister" a Belgian Dark Strong
Pretty simple recipe:
90% Pils, 10% Munich, and D2 candi sugar

How long have you been brewing?

A little over 7 years

Any tips for others that are looking into brewing competitively?

Brewing a good beer starts at the beginning.  Cleanliness and sanitation being key through out the whole process. Be consistent and detailed in your process.  Use fresh, quality ingredients.

I know It sounds cliche, but it is true: Brewers make wort, yeast make beer.  So, use and pitch clean, healthy, and active yeast.  Control fermentation temps.  Limit oxygen exposure post-fermentation when packaging.

Beers should be balanced and drinkable.  If it is a spice, fruit, vegetable, or wood aged beer those flavors should be apparent in the flavor and aroma, but also balanced with the base beer.  Be sure to label what the base beer is on your entry so that the judges know what they are judging.  Enter the beer based on aroma, appearance, taste, and mouthfeel.  If you brewed a beer meant to be a pale ale but when drinking it, but it reminds you of an amber ale.  Enter it in the amber ale category.  If you made a barrel-aged stout, be sure to label which type of stout the base beer is: dry, foreign export, Russian imperial, oatmeal, or milk.

Be mindful that judging in competitions, despite the judges best attempts to be objective, is still somewhat subjective, and can be a crap shoot.  The judge could have a cold, environment plays a role, regional bias plays a role, sometimes the judges get a bad bottle. Use the score sheets as constructive criticism and feedback.  There will always be outliers on score sheets.  Judges try to do their best to objectively judge and give good, constructive feedback.  Look for the most common characteristics listed on feedback to build upon things to improve or maintain in the finished beer.

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