Northwest Philly home brewers to compete in brew club competition this weekend

Many home brewers brew beer for the pure enjoyment of the hobby, but this weekend, a few Northwest Philadelphia home brewing clubs will brew their best batches for a chance to win in a regional competition. 

The event, called the Keystone Barrel Brew Club Championship, will be held this Saturday, Oct. 27, at Keystone Homebrew Supply in Montgomeryville, Pa.

Jason Harris, owner of Keystone, says the event is a warm-up to the National Homebrewers Conference this spring. Harris, who organized this year’s Philly Beer Geek Competition in Manayunk, says he had the idea for a brewing competition after hosting a “group barrel brew” event over the last several years.

“I think home brewing is really taking off,” said Harris, who has been a home brewer since 1987. “It’s a culmination of factors, there’s this whole do-it-yourself movement and there’s been a beer renaissance.”

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Attendees will enjoy a front row seat to watch the art of home-brewing while sampling free food and beer provided by Iron Abbey Gastro Pub, Free Will Brewing Co., Round Guys Brewing Co. and Blue Dog Tavern and Pub.

Participation is free and each club will brew their beer on-site using their own recipe and aging schedule. The clubs will utilize their own brew systems and Keystone will provide an optional apple brandy barrel or a whiskey/bourbon barrel to store the beer.

Local clubs hope to win big

More than a dozen local clubs are participating, including Northwest Philadelphia’s M*A*S*H (Mt. Airy Society of Homebrewers), the GLUB (General Lafayette Underground Brewers) Club in Chestnut Hill and the YTM (You The Man) Homebrew Club in Manayunk.

The YTM team will be brewing up an Imperial Brown Ale aged in a bourbon barrel with brettanomyces, a type of yeast, added to it. The GLUB Club has plans to brew a Belgian Trippel that will be going into a bourbon barrel.

South Jersey homebrew club Barley Legal has decided to brew their sour-flavored Belgian Quad in a brandy barrel for the competition. Evan Fritz, president of Barley Legal, says he’s looking forward to meeting other local home brewers.

“I don’t really see it as that competitive. Sure, it would be nice to win but home brewing is more about camaraderie than winning competitions,” said Fritz, “It’s always cool to see other people’s equipment, techniques – that is probably the biggest reason I love these types of events. Home brewers are constantly evolving their brewing.”

And the winner is…

Because beer isn’t brewed overnight, the brew clubs will have to wait until June to showcase their creations at the national conference, where a panel of celebrity judges from the brewing industry will make the final decision.

The prize? Harris is providing the winner with $1,000 in gift certificates to his store, which is chock-full of home brewing favorites. The group will also receive the title of “2013 Keystone Barrel Club Champion.” 

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