I chose my column: A Beery Good Story, to publish this because that column is more about a “story,” and this is about more than judging, or even running a competition. It’s about helping brewers and a community. And I think next year the potential is even greater if we have a popular, yet one with local impact, cause we can support with a modest entry fee once we combine it with local arts group at The View and their beerfest.
Written by Ken Carman
I think I started planning this competition 10 years ago. Knowing the Central Adirondacks had little contact with homebrew related events, no craft brewery and little craft beer: in comparison, I first imagined hordes of homebrewers floating down Stillwater Reservoir on the tour boat run by the Thompson family and staying in a rented cabin, a motel room or the hotel.
It would have been like a weekend bonanza for homebrewers, stewards and judges.
Gee, think I might be prone to making things difficult for myself? Try to fly over too high a bar?
It took a few years, but I moved away from that concept because getting brewers up there just to have free beer, for a brew weekend, no matter how much I offered, just didn’t work. I did come close. One club was lined up but, unbeknownst to me, they had a change in management mid discussions and somehow the info got lost. So I was stuck with lots of burgers and beer.
Poor, pitiful, me. What was I to do? Drink and eat my sorrows away, I suppose. Horrible job, but someone had to do it. Hiccup. Burp.
Having grown up, partially, in the Central Adirondacks, and graduated from Town of Webb school… (Yeah, I know, they call it “schools,” but there’s really only one: K-12!) I realized this was an event nearby Old Forge, NY, could use. Working with former schoolmate Chip Kiefer and Mike Farmer (Central Adirondack Association) we created an event at the old HoJos in 2014. Now called The Front Door/The Back Door. More local support: Albert Kiss and Tom Greco.
By then I had realized starting very small and growing was the best option. As this year proved: wise choice. Because there’s no local homebrew club to support the competition, and do the necessary leg work, I had to find a way to do most of it myself and judge. But the biggest block to all this, again as this year proved, was getting judges into Old Forge. You have to have one BJCP judge (Beer Judge Certification Program) at every table. This year it was so tough I considered having a pro-brewer head the table and I would sit in for advice and guidance. Thankfully, with prejudging, it worked out.
But I must admit, I’ve been feeling a tad down, despite success. So much work, the cost for us: my wife and I, has been high. And I refuse to charge per entry if it’s just my wife and I, not that that might not be an option next year if the local arts council takes over. Since there’s no homebrew club I simply didn’t want any hint that I was using this to fill my wallet, no matter how little that “fill” might be.
Then, yesterday, I found this message from last year’s winner: Brian Boeckel, among my Facebook messages…
”Ken, great to see things went well with this year’s competition… I didn’t get the chance to enter because I’ve had so many other millions of things going.”
“ Long story short, the beer we submitted and got BOS with last year is potentially getting picked up by a brewing group in California that takes homebrewers and gets their beer out to subscribers… we are in the final 4 with Trubbel and I was hoping once the voting page goes up, if you could share the post on the Old Ale page to garnish some extra support. obviously its a homebrewers dream to get their beer to the faces of the masses and this is kind of our chance! ”
“ We actually won regardless, and our beer (same one that you guys judged as best of show last year) will be available from noblebrewer.com for their subscribers, brewed on a 930 gallon system!”
That’s Brian Boeckel and his co-brewer’s medal on the right hand side of the top of this column. Notice Adam Kugler’s a big winner this year. He came in 2nd last year! To me it’s humbling that I can reward and inspire great brewers.
In the end, I’m hoping we will be back next year. For if we can help the cause of better beer, good beer, helping brewers, while joining a community together? Of all the places I’ve lived I can think of no place I’d rather do this than the Central Adirondacks.
A Beer-y Good Story is a column by Ken Carman: BJCP judge, author of several columns an beer and Inspection, on social, political and religious issues first published in 1972. A Beer-y Good Story goes where beer reviews don’t: history and perception of a brand being reviewed, as well as personal anecdotes.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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