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Announcing the Divisional Round Winners of the 2015 BrewUnited Challenge!

Posted by homebrewdad on 10/30/2015 at 11:55:16 AM

When I first tossed around the idea of this competition, there were some naysayers. I was warned that organizing a competition would be a lot of work, that it would be difficult, that it would be a pain. Then, as the idea evolved into the eventual form - and even after we first announced - the pushback, if anything, got stronger. Why use this format? Why be so restrictive? Why use these grains? Why not allow other hops? Why go with these styles? Didn't I understand that flaked wheat was a stupid, devilish requirement, that it was impossible to make a decent IPA - let alone a drinkable Kolsch - with even a single grain of C60, that there was no way that someone could produce anything but a drain pour of a Strong Scotch Ale in such a timeframe, that you just can't make style X, Y, or Z without ingredient A or with the inclusion of ingredient B?

But I really believed in the concept of forcing brewers to rely on skill and technique to overcome a restrictive set of ingredients in the pursuit of brewing great beer - even if it took them out of their comfort zones to do so. I'll admit, I took a lot of pleasure in discovering that I was far from alone in finding this to be a fun concept; we ended up with sponsored prize donations of over four thousand, seven hundred dollars in retail value, and we exceeded our registration limit of three hundred beers in less than a month.

In fact, everything just seemed to keep coming up aces... right up until this past weekend, when the judging started.

Our good friend, Matthew Chrispen chronicled some of the trials and tribulations that he faced as the Site Director of our Balanced judging location in Austin, Texas. Aside from the enormous amount of organization and busywork that is simply inherent in the process of unboxing, sorting, arranging, and judging nearly a hundred bottles of beer, the folks there in Austin got to deal with the effects of the hurricane weather system, which caused some no shows among the judges and just made things more complicated. Even so, Matthew was able to get everything wrapped in two days of judging, and by Sunday night, had a bow on everything.

To contrast, it seems that our good friend Aaron Collier, Site Director of the Hoppy judging location in Fresno, California, had things go a bit more smoothly. As in, sure - he had to likewise handle unboxing, sorting, arranging, and judging nearly a hundred bottles of beer - but other than that, things went pretty well. Like Matthew, Aaron's Division was done by Sunday evening.

However, things went really south for our good friend Matt Del Fiacco, Site Director of the Malty judging location in Bloomington, Illinois. Even though Matt got started early - they began judging on Friday evening, rather than waiting until Saturday like the other two Divisions - Matt had to deal with a major shortage of judges due to some pretty massive no shows. As a result, Sunday evening found Matt with a pretty fair amount of judging still to do. Sadly he discovered that while it's hard enough to get volunteers to come out on a weekend, it was even harder to get people to show up during the week (at one point, Matt confided to me that he had emailed literally every BJCP judge in the state of Illinois). However, he persisted, and had by virtue of chipping away with a judging session almost every evening of this week, he managed to oversee Malty getting wrapped up last night (Thursday).

Right now, before we go any farther, please allow me to extend a heartfelt thank you to these three guys. Without their tireless efforts, their ongoing input, their good humor, and their general awesomeness, we would have never been able to pull this competition off. Seriously, give these guys a hand.

"Yeah, yeah", you say. "That's nice. But what about the winners?"

Okay, I hear you. Please remember that, to qualify for a medal, beers must have met a minimum score of 30. We did end up with one of our fifteen style categories falling short of three beers that met this minimum score; as such, those medals will simply not be awarded.

Without further ado, here are our 2015 BrewUnited Challenge style category winners!

Hoppy Division

10A American Pale Ale - 29 entries
1st: Gregory Ellis, "Posse Pale"
2nd: Adam Sauers, "BrewUnited Pale Ale"
3rd: Jay Thomas, "Fourth Horseman"

10B American Amber Ale - 20 entries
1st: Nick Riccobono, "Ernst Amber Ale"
2nd: Michael Koncel, "BU Amber 2"
3rd: Ryan Caldwell, "Schnitzengiggle"

14A English IPA - 10 entries
1st: David Stahl, "English IPA"
2nd: Jason Flair, "Slimey Limey IPA"
3rd: Alexander W Ferrara, "English IPA"

14B American IPA - 33 entries
1st: Jason Blair, "High Kick IPA"
2nd: Alex Rystrom, "Echo Lake IPA"
3rd: Justen, Jason & Scot REFS Club, "REFS IPA"

14C Imperial IPA - 9 entries
1st: Cory Meyer (Corbinaack), "BUDIPA"
2nd: Jonathan Rodgers (phicusk), "BUDIPA"
3rd: Thomas Crawford (crawfow), "Dirty Pale Red"

Balanced Division

6B Blonde Ale - 17 entries
1st: Matt Miller, "Easy Blonde Bombshell"
2nd: Greg Hinton, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Blonde Ale"
3rd: Mathieu Gregoire, "Goat Legs' Blonde Ale"

6C Kolsch - 31 entries
1st: Dan Paris, "Abomination"
2nd: Nik A Stevens, "Just Another Kolsch"
3rd: Jay Thomas, "Stange Brew"

7B California Common Beer - 19 entries
1st: Jay Waldner, "Brew United California Common"
2nd: David Stahl, "Cal Common"
3rd: Jesse Madway, "The Uncommon"

8C Extra Special Bitter - 22 entries
1st: Aaron Curtis, "Odd Albert's ESB"
2nd: Justen, Jason & Scot REFS Club, "REFS Extra Stingy Bastards"
3rd: Matthew Gee, "Blasphemy Bitter"

11A Mild - 10 entries
1st: Ben Pluckebaum, "Thrice Baked Mild"
2nd: n/a
3rd: n/a

Malty Division

4B Munich Dunkel - 26 entries
1st: Rob Vermillion, "Stonehands Dunkel"
2nd: Jonathan Davis, "He's on Fire Dunkel"
3rd: Jeremy Adams, "Munich Dunkel"

5B Traditional Bock - 15 entries
1st: Michael Shaw, "BrewUnited Bock"
2nd: Tim Daniel, "Bock You"
3rd: Jay Moynihan, "Billy Goat Gruff"

9E Strong Scotch Ale - 26 entries
1st: Jonathan I Fuller, "Slightly larger than Wee Jock Jock"
2nd: Andrew Tipler, "Twisted Kilt Strong Scotch Ale"
3rd: Sachin "Chino" Darji, "Flapjacks"

11C Northern English Brown - 14 entries
1st: Jason Blair, "Sister Cats Brown Ale"
2nd: Ryan Kelly, "Northern English Brown(ish)"
3rd: Reuben Shah, "BU English Brown"

12A Brown Porter - 21 entries
1st: Cory Meyer, "Brown Porter"
2nd: Mark Thorpe, "Skid Mark Brown Porter"
3rd: William Hellmuth, "Motor Oil"

The above winners will receive a custom gold, silver, or bronze medal (as appropriate), with their name, position, and style category engraved on the back. Gold medal winners will also receive a tee shirt. Finally, the vast majority of our "random draw" prizes will go to brewers in the above list.

"But what about the big prizes???" you impatiently ask, with a glint of madness starting to become evident.

Okay, okay. Please note that the grand prize will not be decided until this coming week - the delays in Malty judging mean that we have to push back the overall Best of Show judging a bit, as all bottles have to be shipped to Birmingham, Alabama, where they will sit in cold storage for a couple of days to allow for proper settling and such.

Division Winners

Hoppy Division
1st: Nick Riccobono - 10B
2nd: Michael Koncel - 10B
3rd: Cory Meyer - 14C

Balanced Division
1st: Aaron Curtis - 8C
2nd: Jay Waldner - 7B
3rd: Ben Pluckebaum - 11A

Malty Division
1st: Rob Vermillion - 4B
2nd: Jonathan I Fuller - 9E
3rd: Andrew Tipler - 9E

1st place in each Division will receive - among other things - a ball lock keg (choice of 5 or 3 gallon size) from HomeBrewSupply, a $75 gift certificate from JaDeD Brewing, a Javelin PRO digital thermometer from Lavatools, a $50 gift certificate from Label Peelers, a $40 gift certificate from The Brew Bag, a custom tap handle or bottle opener from Half Yankee Workshop, a $40 gift certificate and a tee shirt from The BeerBug, a $30 gift certificate from BrewerShirts... and more! All told, the prize packages for our three division winners are worth approximately five hundred fifty dollars each!

2nd place in each Division is still quite attractive. Headline items here are a $40 gift certificate from The Brew Bag, a custom tap handle or bottle opener from Hannison Woodworks, a $40 gift certificate from The BeerBug, choice of a recipe kit from HomeBrewSupply, a $30 gift card from Bottlemark, a $20 gift certificate from BrewerShirts - and more. All told, the prize packages for our three 2nd place division winners are worth approximately two hundred sixty-five dollars each!

3rd place in each Division is hardly forgotten. These winners will receive a custom tap handle or bottle opener from Half Yankee Workshop, a $30 gift certificate from The BeerBug, a 2-pack of Chillrod Supremes from Thirst Friend, a $20 gift certificate from BrewerShirts, a $15 gift certificate from Love2Brew, and a tee shirt from Brulosophy - prize packages worth one hundred forty-five dollars each!

Stay tuned, as we hope by Friday to announce our Best of Show winner, who will also receive a fabulous Chronical 7 Gallon Fermentor from SS Brew Tech, the winner's choice of a blowoff kit or a pressure transfer kit from Brewhouse Hardware, plus a loaded AMCYL Brew Kettle (choice of 15 or 10 gallon size) from HomeBrewSupply, plus a $50 gift certificate from BrewerShirts! That prize package is worth just under seven hundred dollars!

We will also announce up to three Homebrew Heroes - who will receive their own prize packs - as well as announce winners of other randomly drawn (and organizer-awarded) prizes.

Total prize value will exceed five thousand dollars.   Yeah.

Finally, please let me extend a truly sincere thank you to everyone who participated in the BrewUnited Challenge this year. I feel that, overall, this has been a wildly successful event, and I plan to ensure that the BrewUnited Challenge becomes an annual, buzzworthy event!

Tags for this post: beer, competition, brewing, challenge, winner, winners, prizes

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Whew, didn't know our name AND handle/email were going to be posted.

posted by suprchunk on 10/30/2015 at 12:14:48 PM

Most comps post winner names. If anyone wants to be recognized with just one or the other, please contact me - I'm happy to oblige.

posted by homebrewdad on 10/30/2015 at 12:18:58 PM

Must have been DQ'd , I was sure I had that kolsch locked down :)

posted by dahlberg123 on 10/30/2015 at 12:24:38 PM

No DQs among beers that would have otherwise placed. I'm not sure I ended up having to DQ anybody.

posted by homebrewdad on 10/30/2015 at 12:26:52 PM

This was my first BJCP contest... Excited to get my score!

posted by atom on 10/30/2015 at 12:33:16 PM

Okay folks - usernames dropped.

posted by homebrewdad on 10/30/2015 at 12:33:50 PM

I'm super pumped to have even placed! Thank you all very much for all of the work you have done on this. When do you think we will get to see the scores/feedback? Will we be able to see all of the scores or just our own?

posted by rdc4687 on 10/30/2015 at 12:34:53 PM

Awesome, wish I would have placed in the overall Division. Still stoked I placed, thank you putting this on and can't wait until next year. I like the limited ingredients it really makes you think about your recipe and how you brew it.

posted by mmiller1444 on 10/30/2015 at 12:39:42 PM

A big thank you to everyone involved in running the competition. This was only my second competition so i am super excited to have placed. I really liked the format and can't wait to see what you come up with for next year!

posted by jdsoccer88 on 10/30/2015 at 01:17:54 PM

Can't wait to see my scores. Felt I nailed the brown porter for what I had to do to brew to style. To have not scored at least a 30 is surprising to me.

posted by jkrochune on 10/30/2015 at 01:24:04 PM

Nice job everyone....I like the addition of the name of the beers. Note to self...should have entered a third beer. I knew the categories I choose would be tough to get to BOS, but stoked to get 2 first places.

posted by madcowbrewing on 10/30/2015 at 01:38:09 PM

Thanks a bunch everyone for all of the hard work it took to put on not only a competition, but a truly unique experience.

posted by drewsk on 10/30/2015 at 01:38:52 PM

Thanks to everybody for entering. Scores will be up soon, judging sheets next week. Don't be a stranger - come see us in the forums!

posted by homebrewdad on 10/30/2015 at 01:45:27 PM

When will we be able to review our score sheets?

posted by mscg4u on 10/30/2015 at 06:21:53 PM

I'd love to see other people's recipes. Any chance of that?

posted by Joppo43 on 10/31/2015 at 02:53:51 AM