This past weekend, the DC State Fair took place during a street festival on Barracks Row. In addition to street food, frolicking, ribaldry, and of course, competitions. In addition to competitions for best honey, biggest vegetables, etc. there was also a homebrewing competition. Congratulations to Pete Jones and Cody Gabbard for taking home first place with their pilsner. The champs were kind enough to answer some questions about their award-winning brew with DCBeer via email. Here's how it went!
DCBeer: Can you describe your beer for our readers?
Pete and Cody: It's a pilsner, here's everything you need to know about it.
11lb Pilsener malt
.75lb Munich malt
.125lb aciduated malt
2oz Tettnager (added at 60 minutes to flameout)
1.5oz Saaz (at 20 minutes to flameout)
Irish Moss (at 15 minutes to flameout)
.5oz Saaz (at 5 minutes to flameout)
"Half gallon starter, mashed at 144degrees for 30 min, hold at 156deg for 30 minutes, sparge at 170deg. Boil 75 min. Yield was 4.5 initial gallons, 3.9 final gallons. 1.045 OG, 42deg lager temp for two weeks, Did a one week diacytl rest at ~65deg, back to 42deg for another 6 weeks. Racked at 1.010 SG, bottled one week later, 1.009 FG, conditioned with 3.3oz corn sugar. If I brewed it again, I'd definitely use a single or double decoction, less Munich, and play with fermenting temps more."
Pete: Cody Gabbard and I brewed this, but we definitely got some general pilsner brewing suggestions from DC Homebrewers like Mike Tonsmeire
Cody: HUGE shout out to Favio [Garcia] at Lost Rhino. It's definitely a testament to the brewing community that we won this since the recipe was based on his recipe for Rhino Chaser Pils and that the grain was donated from them. Unlike most businesses brewers will almost always publish their recipes and share their knowledge. That's what makes it such an accessible hobby and another reason for the homebrew explosion. So, this is a perfect example of a successful brewer sharing his knowledge, a homebrewer taking advantage of that knowledge, and then it being exposed at a fair, which hopefully promotes brewing and gets more people interested. It's like totally the circle of (brewing) life, man.
DCBeer: Did you brew this intending to enter it into the DC State Fair? If so, was there any strategy to picking the beer that you did?
Pete: Not really for the DC State Fair. We wanted to brew a pilsner since we won 50lbs of pilsner malt at the DC Homebrewers Cherry Blossom contest in April (you had to use flowers or flower derivatives in the beer). The pilsner just happened to be hitting its peak when the DC Fair came around.
Cody: Zero strategy, we brew what we like, and if it's a solid beer and a competition is coming up, even better. We have some good beers in the pipeline, but this was one our better "to style" beers, if not the best.
DCBeer: How many beers were submitted for the DC State Fair, any idea?
Pete: According to the organizer, Mike Reinitz, 39 folks entered. There were 2-3 judges for each category with one "experienced" judge (BJCP or other judging experience). The five category winners went into the best in show round.
DCBeer: How long have you been homebrewing?
Pete: About 2 and a half years.
DCBeer: How have you seen homebrewing grow in the past few years?
Pete: Brewing at the White House, extreme brewing on Discovery Channel, and homebrew clubs- especially DC Homebrewers, are getting extremely popular. What can I say, people are tired of drinking macros and are embracing well crafted beer- homebrew is definitely part of this movement.
Cody: Homebrewing is exploding, it is by no means rare to hear friends and acquaintances have started brewing. Beer snobs hate to admit it, but the Obama beer has introduced a lot of folks to trying it out, especially since he used such an easy style, but with an interesting twist with the addition of White House honey. I think it goes hand-in-hand with the craft beer movement. DC is such an awesome beer town that people are really taking to more beer-centric bars, which introduces them to homebrewers and vice versa. The new breweries in town are only helping that desire to have good brew advance further.
Mike Reinitz, the organizer of the DC State Fair homebrew competition, told DCBeer via email that he recalled, "rich, Pils-malt on the nose, slightly sweet and grainy, with a pleasant noble hop aroma–some floral notes and a touch of black pepper. The beer was firmly bitter, but with enough malt backbone for a near perfect balance. Well-attenuated, the beer was malty, but certainly not sweet, and some of that noble hop character came through in the flavor as well. An impeccably brewed Pilsner, there was no question in my mind that Cody's beer should take first place."
The 39 entries in the homebrew competition were split across five categories: Malt, Hops, Roast/Smoke/Wood, Fruit/Spice, and Yeast. Here is the list of the other winners:
Best of Show: Cody Gabbard (Copy Cat Pils)
BOS 2nd Place: Lisa Dettling (Funkel Weizen)
BOS 3rd Place: Chas Ballew (Belgian Dubbel)
Best Malt: Cody Gabbard (Copy Cat Pils)
Best Hop: Chris Colwell (Emo's Brew D'état)
Best Fruit & Spice: Lisa Dettling (Funkel Weizen)
Best Yeast: Chas Ballew (Belgian Dubbel)
Best Roast/Smoke/Wood: Brooke Heaton (American Bourbon Oaked Barleywine)