Home brewing. We have at some point either done it or thought about it, home brewing.
For many though it’s not a thought. It’s a choice and a lifestyle. And since 1996 when it began as a competition amongst employees of Boston Beer the Longshot Homebrew competition has inspired amateurs and professionals alike to brew beer. And this year’s contest featured some 23 different categories all being judged with only three being chosen as the overall national winners.
Richard Roper’s Friar Hop Ale combines his love of hops with his affinity for spicy Belgian ales. To develop his recipe, Roper created a hybrid of two styles, uniting the big hoppy taste of an IPA with the spicy, fruity flavor of a Belgian. The toasty caramel sweetness from the malt and Belgian candi sugar mimics a Belgian ale, while the big citrus hop notes of an IPA balance the style. A spicy yeast fermentation and hints of orange and coriander round out the brew. Richard’s Friar Hop Ale is a refreshing beer that can be enjoyed any time of year.
Rodney Kibzey’s Blackened Hops is a perfect combination of deep roasted malt character and citrusy hop bitterness. Harnessing eight years of homebrewing knowledge, Rodney found that combining debittered dark malts and citrusy hops yielded a surprising and unique flavor for this brew. Its black color hints at roasted malt and coffee flavors, but it is the big hop character really steals the show. Packed with citrusy and piney American hops, this beer has a big flavor and clean bitterness. This is Rodney’s second LongShot American Homebrew Contest win; he won in 2007 with a Weizenbock and his beer was included in the 2008 LongShot Variety Pack.
Caitlin DeClercq has worked as a member of the Samuel Adams sales team since 2006. She created her Honey B’s Lavender Wheat with dried lavender petals, giving it a fragrant but soft aroma. A citrus tartness and slight sweetness from the honey and vanilla balance out the finish in this California resident’s brew; perfect to sip while kicking back and relaxing.
In all sincerity these three winning entries defy definition. So rather than bore you with three different definitions (that don’t exist) let’s just crack these open!
Caitlin’s Honey B’s Lavender Wheat pours golden and clear with a strong initial white foamy head. As this inch plus crown of froth fades away a bog rests on the surface.
The aroma as the glass is swirled around gives birth to notes of sweet honey, lavender, and floral hops.
Taking our first sip we pick up an initial lemon citrus bitterness and strong lavender before finishing sweet wheat. Overall Honey B’s Lavender Wheat has a medium weight on the palate and finishes with a medium alcohol warming.
You Should Consider It. A beer like this is best enjoyed in a couple of months. Thankfully the best by date agrees with you. For some reason chicken and waffles come to mind.
The second one in our line-up is Rodney Kibzey’s Blackened Hops which pours dark and dense with a strong, inch-high, dirty white foamy head. Over time a cap of foam leaves behind a tattered curtain of lace behind with each sip.
Swirling this around one recalls earthy, floral hop bitterness along with roast coffee (day old?).
Taking the first sip an initial breadiness is evident before being followed by roast malt and finishing with a slight plum and citrus bitterness.
You Should Try This. Another India Black Ale has stepped up and dared you to define it as anything other than what it says on the label. Don’t know why but ricotta cheese or a lamb gyro sounds tasty right now.
And finally we finish with Richard Roeper’s Friar Hop Ale. As Belgian’s go this one doesn’t disappoint from the beginning. Pouring straight out of the bottle Friar Hop Ale produces a reddish-orange clarity that is only overshadowed by the strong inch high foamy head that rests on the surface. With each passing minute the head dissipates leaving behind a strong curtain of lace behind.
Warming up, aromas seem to dance between bits of coriander, floral hops, sweet honey and breadiness.
Taking our first sip with pick up an initial coriander before bits of biscuit breadiness and mild clove appear. Noticeable is the hint of bubblegum that we have some to expect with Farmhouse / Saison Ales. Overall this beer offers the balanced package despite the ABV.
You Should Try This. Words cannot describe the complexity that is presented in this beer. From the grocery store we cannot help but reach for funky cheeses, or maybe a bowl of field greens dusted with feta.
About the photo’s author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.
In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.