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Announcing the 2015 BrewUnited Challenge!

Posted by homebrewdad on 6/09/2015 at 10:37:46 AM

If you've been paying attention, you may be aware that will have a new name (and new look) soon - as a reflection of the change from "one guy's site" to "full fledged brewing community", the site is becoming The dream is to create a unique place where brewers of all experience levels, backgrounds, and areas of interest can meet and discuss brewing in a positive, welcoming, cooperative environment.

BrewUnited Logo

Check out the new logo.

To celebrate this momentous occasion for a unique community, BrewUnited is excited to announce a unique brewing competition - the 2015 BrewUnited Challenge.

While this event will be officially sanctioned by the BJCP, it will likely be a bit different than the typical brewing competition. To succeed, you will need to brew specifically for the competition. You will be given a list of four grains (or extract equivalents, as appropriate); you MUST use each of these grains, but no others (although exact ratios are up to you). Likewise, you must choose exactly two hop varieties from six approved types. Finally, the choice of yeast will be up to you. Fining elements and water treatment are allowed, but no other ingredients or adjuncts may be used.

You will then employ your creativity (and perhaps some brewing techniques above and beyond the norm) to create the best beer that you possibly can!

The competition - to be held October 25th, 2015 - will consist of three divisions - Malty beers, Balanced Beers, and Hoppy beers - with each division further broken down into five eligible BJCP styles. While some styles will align fairly well to the provided ingredient list "as is", others may require unusual steps such as toasting/roasting your grains, decoction mashing, cold steeping, reducing runnings to syrup, extended boiling, and all manner of hop schedules and techniques. Each division will be judged at a distinct geographic location (our judging sites will be located near Chicago, Austin, and Fresno, to be exact).

As of the time of this writing, BrewUnited intends to cap the number of entries at one hundred per division, so be sure to enter early (entries will begin to be accepted on July 1st). If the early response is overwhelming, we may attempt to add judging capacity to one or more divisions... but we also may leave it at three hundred total entries. Furthermore, please note that you may enter up to three beers (though no more than one per style).

Each style will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, and each division will hold its own BOS round to award an overall 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. The three division winners will in turn be entered in an overall competition BOS round, with one overall winner awarded. Finally, we are pleased to announce a special category of awards - Homebrew Heroes.

Up to three Homebrew Heroes will be selected, using combined score as the criteria. This special award is a "lifetime recognition" type situation; you may only win this once, and doing so will earn you a special badge on the BrewUnited community pages (as well as come with its own swag).

If you are on the fence about entering, please note that as of this post, we have ten great sponsors lined up to contribute prizes, with the grand prize being a fabulous Chronical 7 Gallon fermentor from SS Brew Tech. To see our complete sponsor list, please check out our official sponsor thread, which will be updated as more sponsors sign on, and existing sponsors solidify the prizes that they plan to contribute. It goes without saying, but we hope that you will give our sponsors some love!

Note that as of this writing, we anticipate that your first entry will cost $10, with additional entries (up to the overall three beer limit) costing $5 each. Shipping will obviously be the responsibility of the contestant. This will be a three bottle competition - one for the initial round, one for the division BOS, and one for the overall competition BOS. Obviously, entry will require that you adhere to the honor system; when entering, you will be asked to certify that you did not use any ingredients aside from those permitted by this competition (i.e. no sneaking in victory malt to add bready character, that's cheating!). You will be required to list your exact recipe and detail your process - mash and fermentation schedule, any special steps (i.e. toasting of grains, etc) taken, etc.

As advance information, we decided to stick with 2008 BJCP style for this year's competition, as a great many brewers have yet to get familiar with the new 2015 guidelines. Odds are, we will go to the new guidelines next year, but this choice felt right for the inaugural run of our event. The eligible styles for this competition will be:

Malty Beers Balanced Beers Hoppy Beers
4B - Munich Dunkel 6B - Blonde Ale 10A - American Pale Ale
5B - Traditional Bock 6C - Kolsch 10B - American Amber ale
9E - Strong Scotch Ale 7B - California Common Beer 14A - English IPA
11C - Northern English Brown 8C - Extra Special Bitter 14B - American IPA
12A - Brown Porter 11A - Mild 14C - Imperial IPA

To help you start planning your beers, here is the approved ingredient list:

must use all of these!
must use two of these!
Pilsner Malt
Munich Malt (Light or 10L)
Crystal 60L
Flaked Wheat

Extract Brewer Alternatives
Pilsen Malt (LME) or Pilsen Light (DME)
Munich Malt (LME) or Sparkling Amber (DME)
Crystal 60L (steep)
Wheat Malt (LME) or Bavarian Wheat (DME)
Northern Brewer
Any yeast of your choice; dry or liquid, commercial or wild.

Please note that this post is intended to serve merely as an announcement; it does not constitute the official rules of the competition, which will be posted in full on or before the official start date of July 1st, 2015. If you have questions, please feel free to post them to the forums.

Finally, on a completely unrelated note, Todd Lewandowski just reached out to tell me about a homebrewing podcast he just recorded. I'm not a big podcast guy myself, but I promised Todd that I would pass it along to everyone. So, if podcasts are your thing, please check it out, and let Todd know what you think.

Tags for this post: brewing, competition, challenge, BrewUnited, bjcp, beer

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