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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Richmond homebrew

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed into law the right to brew beer at home. In 1981, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company began its operations - founded by two homebrewers - and the craft beer revival had begun in the United States.

Homebrewers and craft brewers have maintained their relationship since; in fact there are some homebrewers who brew beers of superior quality to those of some of our (less than?) craft brethren.

Saturday, Richmond beer and wine shop Once Upon a Vine invited me to judge some local homebrewers' efforts. Fellow judges were Legend brewer Mike Killelea, Lyle Brown, an accredited national beer judge, and Andy Rathman, brewmaster for St. George Brewing Company. (Acting the accommodating steward was store manager Emily Casey.)

We selected a hazelnut brown ale as best and a delicious Imperial Stout as second - although by my adjective you may see where my allegiance lay. I also very much liked an ESB as almost being a British beer clone. The other judges marked it down for being a bit too dark and a bit too high in alcohol for the style.

And that's an issue for another day: the formalistic world of beer styles. As the old brewmaster once said; "That's all very interesting. But how does the beer taste?"

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