Written by Julieanna Kapelan and Dave Brown
According to their website: “Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza is a beer lover’s festival, where you get a chance to sample over 100+ unique and obscure beers from craft breweries around the region. Try delicious beers ranging from Apple Pie Ales, Double IPA’s to Peanut Butter & Jelly Brew. We have fun beers to try and we have some serious beers for your sampling pleasure. Over a hundred to be exact. The Thirsty Orange Brew Extravaganza brings you beers you’ll never find anywhere else. You get to sample them all, and then repeat with unlimited samples.”
Julieanna Kapelan and Dave Brown: homebrewers and members of Music City Brewers, traveled to Kingsport, Tennessee, to this event with their Electric Avenue Brewing Company gear. This is the story of that adventure.-PGA
Our journey to the 2013 Thirsty Orange in Johnson City actually started last September in Kingsport. We were packing up the tent that Electric Avenue Brewing Company (that’s us) shared with Telford Hand Crafted Ales (that’s Gene and Stephanie Daniels), when the event organizer, Aaron stopped by to talk to us.
After congratulating us on our medals, 2 silver for Telford and 2 bronze for Electric Ave, he told us about the Thirsty Orange and encouraged us to participate. We’d had so much fun in Kingsport that we immediately agreed. Gene and Stephanie are a blast to hang out with, so we were excited that they were going to do it too.
Our prep for Thirsty Orange began a couple months ago. They were going to have an “Iron Brewer” challenge, so we got a kit and planned out our entry. It was a pretty basic recipe and we could either change out a grain or a hop and then add one special ingredient. We opted to do an American Brown ale and added some honey. (Judging by the comments on our scoresheets, the honey is what did us in…) We wanted to take 4 beers total, so we also did a Sweet Stout, a Strong Scotch Ale, and an American Rye with lemon.
We had also decided to take our basic two tap jocky box and make it into a four tap system. We turned an old steamer trunk we got off Craigslist into a slightly bulky, but very functional 4 tap system and even made some custom tap handles to go with it. The tap handles were as big a hit as the beer!
As with most of our little projects, preparation went down to the wire, and we had to work on the system all the way up to the day we were heading out. Then we got it all packed and hit the road. We made it to Johnson City Friday night, just in time to check in, have a beer, and go to bed.
The next morning was a bit of organized chaos. Once we got to the site, we spent a good deal of time unloading our gear and setting up our tent. Superglue and a screwdriver became our saviors and after a few expletives were shared by all, the tent looked ready.
After dropping off our entries at the judging tent, we had a sigh of relief and then it dawned on us – the fun was about to begin!
One of the greatest things about doing a beer festival is that period of time before the first thirsty entrants come to you with an empty glass. It’s when you get to mingle with your homebrew buddies and try their amazing brews before the public drains them dry. It’s a great source of inspiration for future batches of your own and a way to share the passion that is homebrewing.
The experience of sharing our beer is something that never grows old. From pouring that first glass, to the last shot of foam that signals an empty keg, sharing our beer is one of the best parts of brewing.
At 4 o’clock the winners of the contest were announced and we were happy to hear that our Sweet Brown Baby took second place best in show. After a bit of mingling, we packed up our gear and headed to the hotel.
We were a bit exhausted and sunburned, but overall happy with a successful festival. We are looking forward to participating again next year.