Thursday, September 16, 2010

GABF Pro-Am Competition and "McSteamy"

The Great American Beer Festival (GABF), which is run annually by the Brewers Association (BA), has been doing a professional-amateur (Pro-Am) competition for four years now.  The concept is similar to pro-am competitions in golf in that they pair a professional and an amateur together to see what they can do.  Professional craft brewers can select an award-winning homebrew recipe and brew a scaled-up version of the beer at their brewery.  Highlights of the competition rules include:

  • The brewery must enter at least one other beer at the GABF competition;
  • The Pro-Am beer must be available for sale before the middle of August;
  • The Pro-Am beer must be available for tasting on the floor of the GABF;
  • The homebrew recipe must be an award-winning beer from a sanctioned Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) competition; and
  • The brewery can only submit one entry into the Pro-Am competition.
The entries to the Pro-Am competition are judged using best-of-show rules.  This means that all of the entries are compared against each other, regardless of beer style, and the winners are selected from the entire flight of beers.  The three best entries are awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals.  The 2009 GABF Pro-Am competition had 72 entries in 39 different categories, coming from 21 different states.  This was an increase of about 25% over the previous year, indicating a growing interest in the competition.  A list of the 2009 winners can be found here.

The 2010 Pro-Am competition is of particular interest to me because I know one of the entrants.  One of the co-founders of my local club, CAMRA, Jamey Barlow, was selected by Starr Hill to supply their Pro-Am homebrew recipe.  They selected Jamey's recipe for a California common-style of beer.  Jamey shared some of his experience in brewing on the much larger commercial system at a recent CAMRA meeting, which included some practical considerations like hop substitutions (pearle versus northern brewer).  Best of all, Jamey's beer, named "McSteamy" both in reference to Anchor Brewing's trademark of "steam" beer and the Mark Sloan character in Grey's Anatomy, was available on tap at a local bar.  I was able to try a couple of pints and talk with Jamey and a Starr Hill brewer about the beer, which qualified as one of the coolest homebrewing events I have taken part in.

So, please wish Starr Hill and Jamey good luck as they enter the GABF Pro-Am competition later this month.



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