Thursday, November 4, 2010
I first heard of the concept of Iron Brewer on Basic Brewing Radio back in January. The Garage Brewers Society homebrewing club, located in O'Fallon, Missouri, conducted an innovated homebrewing competition. Similar to Iron Chef, now on the Food Network, contestants were given "mystery ingredients" and asked to brew a beer with them and present the results for tasting at the next club meeting. Contestants were paired head-to-head, with the winner of each pairing advancing to the next round. Beers were selected for highlighting the mystery ingredient and overall flavor. Memorable mystery ingredients included: iced oatmeal cookies, breakfast cereal, sweet potatoes, and rice. The overall champion was Kent Critchell, who brewed a Potato Ale.
There is another Iron Brewer competition that is conducted nationwide, amongst interested homebrewers. Iron Brewer, run by Simply Beer, is a similar type of event, but it is not tied to a specific club. The folks at Simply Beer send out a tweet and an email announcement of a given round and the first six people to respond are selected. Each round has three mystery ingredients that must be used and the brewers have eight weeks to brew and present their beers. Then, the brewers send beers to each other and everyone, including the moderator from Simply Beer, votes for their favorites. Like the Garage Brewers Society event, beers are evaluated for highlighting the selected ingredients and overall flavor. The winner of each of the six rounds advances to the finals.
I heard about the Simply Beer competition from a friend, Jamey Barlow, who got second place in Round 3 (ingredients: smoked malt, vanilla bean, and centennial hops). Jamey brewed a smoked baltic porter and was the only contestant of the round to try a lager. The baltic porter, which I tried at a recent CAMRA meeting, is smokey, rich, and delicious. It is a fantastic beer, though the centennial hops did not come through as much as Jamey hoped.
I must say that I love the Iron Brewer concept. It highlights all of the things that make homebrewing great: innovation, brewing without bounds, and camaraderie through beer. Having listened to the interview with the Garage Brewers Society and reading on the Simply Beer site, organizing such events takes a good deal of work. Still, the results seem worth it.
Would you ever consider organizing or participating in a Iron Brewer competition. Post a comment and let us know.