File this under things that are pretty cool that we are way late on reporting on. On August 10, Smith Commons hosted the Pilsner Urquell Master Home Brewer Competition. DC local Nathan Zeender, brewer at DesJardin Brewing and beer writer, took second place. Pretty impressive showing!

Judges at the competition included:
Vaclav Berka – Pilsner Urquell Senior Trade Brewer
Ryan Johnson – US Trade Brewer, International Brands Division
Grant Holtackers – US Trade Brewer
Greg KitsockWashington Post columnist, Associate Editor of American Brewer Magazine, Editor of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News
Charlie Gow – BJCP Exam Director, Contributor to Beer Connoisseur

Via email, Nathan had this to say about the experience, “It was really validating to have such a delicate and technical beer medal for such a discriminating palate as Vaclav Berka. As you’ll often hear brewers say pale lagers are one of the most difficult styles to brew, as there is no way to hide faults. The decocting is a whole nother beast, few professional breweries have the specialized equipment to decoct–it’s much easier on the homebrew scale to move your mash around freely.”

He noted that he had a chance to sit in on a decoction brew day with Jason Oliver of Devil’s Backbone and referenced this link that has more info.

For more info on Nathan’s thoughts on the contest, check out this post.


Nathan Zeender and Vaclav Berka – Courtesy of DesJardin Brewing

The other winners of the competition included in first place, Aaron Hermes (Leesburg, VA) and in third place, James Tweeddale (Fredericksburg, VA).

Congrats to all the winners, and especially to Nathan for getting second place!