What do DC Brau and Budweiser have in common? Both breweries support employee homebrewing.

On Sunday, December 7, DC Brau Brewing Company judged its first employee homebrew contest. The contest had 6 entries from 8 employees. DC Brau CEO Brandon Skall, President Jeff Hancock, Chief Community and Culture Officer Mari Rodella, Lead Brewer Chris Graham, Right Proper co-founder Thor Cheston, and The Washington Post’s Fritz Hahn comprised the panel of judges who declared winners. The competition was the brainchild of Graham, and all judging was blind as the competition was expertly stewarded by Administrative Assistant Sarah Saa.

The contest was an Iron Chef-style competition with a secret ingredient announced exactly one month before the judging. The secret ingredient was basil, and the Brau employees wasted no time getting creative with several basil varieties.

Thanks to the interview conducted on Behind the Craft (http://behindthecraft.com/anheuser-busch/) we know that Dan Moreland, Senior Brewmaster at the Williamsburg, Virginia brewery, began homebrewing several decades ago, before joining Budweiser. A lesser-known fact about Dan and his brewers, “some of my best employees are guys that homebrew now and have such a passion for beer."

The homebrew passion is also alive and well in DC. Somewhat surprisingly, homebrewers and master brewers appear to have overlapping tastes.


The following is a transcript of Behind the Craft’s interview, conducted by Brendan Kelleher with the Sr. Brewmaster:

Moreland: We’ll do a competition where we’ll say ‘OK November 15th we’re going to taste this style of beer. If you’re brewing this style of beer get started and bring us 3 bottles and we’ll put your in the competition.’ And usually we’ll have probably 11 or 12 people that will show up with their beer. We’ll bring them to the tasting room and we’ll pour their beers, all blind. Then we’ll have sheets where they can write comments and rate the beers—everybody, myself included—will rate the beers and when it’s all over we’ll have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize and that’s usually a gift card to a brew shop to keep them going.

Kelleher: What’s one of the more memorable ones?

Moreland: We had a saison that one of my brewers brewed and I’ll tell ‘ya as an example of the beer it was the best that I had seen in that particular category ever…I had him bring in more samples and I sent some off to the corporate taste panel in St. Louis. I told ‘em, I said, ‘you need to taste this, this guy works for me and did a hell of a job on this beer.’

Back in DC, the panel picked among quality wares, and the five judges crowned employee Rob Shortley and his “Lucifer’s Garden Gose,” best beer. Ethan Katz, Cellarman, was runner up with his “Coconut Lactose Basil Magik.” The judges gave Ryan Brady and his beer “Phuket…let’s get weird,” the nod for best beer name.

Brau and Bud, making homebrew happen: two very different breweries creating employee-driven competitions in the District and the Commonwealth. The following (fantastic and hilarious) descriptions are from the brewers:

Entry 1

Name: The Destroyer of Justice; Justice Destroyer Part 1
Style: American Pilsner
Description: Welcome to DC Motherf@cker! Your Nation's Capital and the home of the apathetic brainwashed horde, sh*t-eaters and butt-sniffers we call the GOV. This Basil-Ginger American Pilsner will surely quench your thirst whist you go about your meaningless day, @ssholes. Generously hopped with Saaz, this Pilsner will surely present you as the SaazBoss. Go forth and Destroy! ABV 4.2%
Brewer: Jason Budman,

Entry 2

Name: Lucifer’s Garden Gose
Style: Gose
Description: Gose style beer with tomato, basil, and black truffle sea salt
Brewer: Rob Shortley, Web Print and Packaging Design

Entry 3

Name: Avec le Basil
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Description: A table version of the famed Brasserie Dupont’s New Years beer. This Belgian-style farmhouse beer has under 20 IBUs and is hopped with the same varieties in Stillwater’s Cellar Door (Sterling and Citra) and is further bittered with dried Valencia orange.
Brewers: Mike Stein, Historian and Allen Carr, Growler Hours Team

Entry 4

Name: Coconut Lactose Basil Magik
Style: Sweet Stout
Description: Thai influenced Sweet Stout. Brewed with coconut, basil and lemongrass. 25 IBU. 5% ABV. Lightly carbonated.
Brewer: Ethan Katz, Cellarman

Entry 5

Name: Phuket…let’s get weird
Style: Thai inspired Porter w/Thai Basil and Chilies
Description: Thailand is a beautiful and mysterious place. Spectacular beaches, fascinating temples, golden Buddhas, majestic elephants, the list goes on. Thailand is also prostitution, ladyboys, Yaba, Thai sticks, beer over ice, and drinking snake blood. It is in this spirit that this beer has been made. When presented with the task of making a beer with basil as an ingredient, there was only one thing to say. Phuket…let’s get weird!
Brewer: Ryan Brady, Packaging Technician


Entry 6

Name: Belgian Ambrosia
Style: Belgian Wit
Description: English malt (Fawcett Optic), Japanese hops (Sorachi Ace), American herbs (local cinnamon basil), and Belgian yeast combine to make this quaffable yet satisfying Belgian style wit. 4.25% abv. Enjoy.
Brewer: Juan Moreno, Cellarman and DJ Holder, Packaging Technician

Disclosure: the author is an employee of DC Brau