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On your mark, get set, SIP! — Local sailors brew up the best in local beers for local contest
Two sailors received category ribbons Friday in the sixth annual Kitsap County Fair Home Brew Competition, organized by Kitsap’s West Sound Brewers homebrew club.
Warner Scott took home the second place in the Amber/Brown category along with his brewing partner Corey Shoemaker for their entry, Holy Hoppy Red, Batman, while Bobby Hashman received first place in the Porter/Stout category for his Hash Porter.
“When you make it yourself,” said Scott, “you definitely feel good knowing where it came from.” Of his and his partner’s entry, he said, “I didn’t name it.”
Around 20 to 30 people attended the event, mostly brewers with entries in the contest. Many brought friends and family to hear brewer Matt Riggs, of Silver City Brewery, announce the results at the business’ new Bremerton brewing facility.
Amid huge stainless steel brewing tanks and bags of grain piled high on pallets, the crowd gathered around a folding table covered in brown bottles, as Riggs, in overalls and rubber boots, handed out the ribbons one by one.
The contest featured eight categories of beer: IPA, Amber/Brown, Lager/Hybrid, Porter/Stout, Wheat, Strong, and Other Ale. The latter included fruit beers, beers made with smoked grain, and other specialty beers.
Hashman said the batch he received his ribbon for was the first he had ever brewed, and that the win came as a bit of a surprise.
Although he brewed it from a recipe he got at Olympic Brewing Supplies, he said that factors like fermentation time and temperature have a significant effect on the final product.
“It’s a lot like cooking. You’re following a recipe, but you’re adding things and taking them away,” Hashman said. Another factor that he said made his beer unique was temperature – “that changed a lot, because I brewed it in my garage.”
Although the event has only been going on for six years, said Sean Brooks, a manager at Olympic Brewing Supplis, the club itself is approaching its twentieth anniversary. Many of the club’s original members went on to found local beer-related enterprises, including Hood Canal Brewery, Sound Brewing, Slippery Pig Brewing and Valhöll Brewing, said Brooks.
Scott said he got started brewing about seven years ago, when he was stationed in Hawaii aboard the USS Bremerton. At the time, he said, it was something to do, and since his equipment was limited to a few five-gallon buckets, it was something he was able to take with him when he moved to Kitsap. The equipment he has acquired since then, though, he said, would probably make another move harder.
After the judging, Scott and Shoemaker popped the top off an extra bottle of their winning batch and poured samples for other attendees, along with, of course, cups for themselves.
Swirling a small sample of Holy Hoppy Red, Batman in a plastic cup, Riggs, who also sat on the judging panel, sniffed, and said he noticed “piney hopps” and malt in the aroma. After a sip, then another, the pronouncement: notes of apples and plum, with good drinkability.
“If you like food, the terminology, you can put that toward beer,” Riggs said.
This year marked the first that the competition received sanction from the Beer Judge Certification Program, after a club member applied to the organization, Riggs said during remarks while handing out the ribbons. In addition to increasing the general recognition of the event, Riggs said later, the sanction brought four judges certified by the organization to help with the event.
Hashman, who found the home brewers’ club on the Internet, said he was unsure if he would re-enter the event next year, but that home brewing was something he planned to keep doing.
Most of his friends, Hashman said, usually drink Bud, Miller, or other cheap domestic beers. The dominant flavor in most of those beers is hops, which Hashman said taste bitter to him. Many commercial beers, he added, and even some microbrews, lose flavor in processing.
Trying his older brother’s homebrew, along with other craft beers, was what made him want to try brewing on his own, he said.
“The taste of the beer is what it’s all about, not getting drunk or getting buzzed, but the taste,” said Hashman. “At least for me, anyway.”