From the Bottle Collection: Longshot

  Without intent, I have collected well over 1,000 beer bottles since the early 70s. When something finally had to be done about the cheap paneling in this old modular, I had a choice: tear down the walls while, oh, so carefully, replacing the often rotted 1X3s; OR, cover them with…

The Bottle Collection.

Written by Ken Carman

 Is it just because they stopped it after 97 then started it again in 2006, or is there something flawed with the concept? Something they changed to make it less palatable?
 I write, of course, of Sam Adams Longshot beer competition. I have a Longshot bottle on my best of shelf of a 96 winner: Hazelnut Brown. The next year I saw the 97 bottles for sale but never bought.
 I must admit: maybe I’m part of the problem?
 I write this edition, this time, to solicit opinions from those more “in the know,” more than anything else.

 Back when they started beer competitions, they weren’t what competitions are today. There are so many highly organized competitions with well trained, and tested, judges one might consider them a huge, massive, imperfectly working, organism. Only “imperfect” because there will always be room for improvement.
 Beer has changed too: so much more variety available, so many odd, off style… now referred to as “Experimental,” instead of just “Specialty:” homebrewers eagerly leading the way.
 Any one for a mango, banana, coffee braggot, or one made out of 99% commercial cereal for the grist, like I brewed once?
 In 96 we were many years from being able to get all the exotic yeasts we have now, sours were considered by most “infected,” and those yeasts? Well, unless you collected them yourself forget it. Now there are companies out there now selling equipment and information to help you do that. Even mouth slamming Imperial IPAs were limited to folks like Tim Rastetter at BrewWorks just south of Cinci, who some in the beer community thought a tad nutty.
index--en--a614a0c8-d858-4491-98fa-80971811d2b3  Maybe another reason might be, and I admit I’m just speculating here, because, as a big brewer, who has also been known to vend out to places like Saranac/Matt Brewing to get the amount of necessary product out, they simply can’t afford to go all the exotic places homebrewers go these days?

 I haven’t judged at Longshot so I will leave off any kudos, or complaints, for I admit to being Sergeant Schultz here, “I know NOTHING!” I will comment, however, that it must be one big, huge, job, requiring a lot of judges. I’ve judged in big competitions before, talked with organizers. Even running a tiny affair like our Old Forge Big Beer and Odd Ale Competition can be problematic, as I found out last year when it was called Old Forge Old Ale. I’ve heard horror stories from organizers of the biggest competitions, and seen some confusion at National Homebrew.
 The bigger something is the more complex it becomes.
 Something really must be said about product placement, or lackthereof. I think I’ve seen Longshot in a few stores: not many. And when I do, placement must have been performed by vampires in full suck mode. The few times I’ve seen Longshot it seems well hidden behind the latest sour, or Imperial whatever, barrel aged wonder.
Big BOS, courtesy
Big BOS, courtesy
 Then you have being associated with Sam. Look, they sell some good brews. I have nothing against them at all. But some in the craft and homebrew communities view them as the new A/B-InBev, or Miller/Coors. I really don’t think that fair, but perceptions and opinions are what they are, especially among some of the hard core.
 The unfortunate thing here is I remember the celebration, and the big news splash, after the first Longshot. I think it a grand way to celebrate creative homebrewing, maybe even push the envelope again if they can get beyond any mass producing problems when selling a Lacto Chocolate Saison with Brazil nuts and Brussels sprout juice added in the fermentation tanks.
 Hey, anyone who could win with that recipe would be one hell of a brewer, and would deserve all the attention Sam could offer!


 From the Bottle collection is a column by Ken Carman: homebrewer since 1979, collector of bottles and such, Certified beer judge and columnist. Ken Lives in Nashville, Tennessee and Beaver River, NY.
©Copyright 2015
Ken Carman and Cartentual Productions
all rights reserved

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