In all, Higherground and Summer Sun donated more than $400 worth of prizes for the contestants. Entry fees raised $150 to be donated to the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation Scholarship. A great crowd of homebrewers gathered for the awards, enjoying pints of Highergrounds's beer and stone-fired pizza.
A few observations:
- The IPA group (nine entries) was the most solid group, with several I'd happily take a full pint of with no reservations. I was particularly impressed with the one black IPA entry which I found to have a great roast level.
- The Light group (eight entries) was an impressive group considering how difficult it is to do a light beer well while avoiding harsh and off elements. It's also nearly impossible to get the kind of wow factor necessary to take an overall prize.
- The Amber group (five entries) had the fewest entries with a couple good ones, but nothing that stood out. That mimics my experience with commercial versions, too.
- The Specialty group (eighteen entries) was both the most fun and most difficult to judge because of the wide variety of styles. Really, anything that wasn't a light, amber or IPA found its way into this category which spanned from a Belgian tripel to a bourbon stout and everything in between.
- Far too many entries used Belgian yeast and no category was immune. Even the amber group. Brewing anything and everything with Belgian yeast was the number one trend in beer in my "What's Trending in Beer?" post for 2011. It's obviously a trend that spilled over to the homebrewing world and I think we were all in agreement that it's a trend we hope goes away. One entry was a most excellent Belgian tripel, for which the Belgian yeast is essential. Beyond that, it mostly didn't work and was far too prevalent.