Two hundred thirty four entries into 23 major categories and 75 overall categories were judged over a three-day period at the Reno Homebrewers Association for the annual competition which allows any member of the American Homebrewers Association. Event organizer Kirk Howell this year’s contest had unprecedented participation numbers which could prove vital in growing the event to a state-wide stage.
“This year we have double the amount of entries they have had on any other good year,” Howell said prior to Friday’s round of judging. “Homebrewing is growing fast and this has always been a very strong homebrewing area.”
Howell said judging of the various beers, in categories ranging from American ales to wheat and rye ales to fruit beers and ciders, is much different than a “popularity contest” held at a restaurant where “everyone votes on the beer they like best.” Only those verified by the Beer Judge Certification Program were able to sample and score the beers.
“I am really glad it is going so well,” Howell said. “I was getting a little nervous early on and with this many entries we were stretched really really thin with judges. If I am asking a judge to judge more than nine or 10 beers that is too much. Their palettes are just going to be tired and it is a lot of writing for each one of them.”
The first place winners of the 23 major categories all participated in a Best of Show competition in which judges answered the question “which is the best beer,” and did not have score on anything but taste. Jason Hobbs, a member of the Washoe Zephyr Zymurgists of the greater Reno area, took first prize in the Best of Show with his Honey Chamomile Wheat beer.
Howell said Hobbs will have the opportunity to have his beer brewed and sold at Great Basin, crediting him with the honor, and will allow him to work with the brewing crew behind the scenes to produce the beer. Hobbs’ beer also automatically gains entry in the American Homebrewers Association’s national brewing competition held annually in Denver, Colo.
The future of the Great Basin Brew-Off looks bright, according to Hobbs, who said seeing such great participation for the event could possibly expand it to twice a year with a fall event, and with cooperation with the Las Vegas homebrewers club could turn into a Nevada state championship contest.