It’s been a very long day of travel troubles and problems at the airport, between having to book a new flight on a different airline and then a 3 hour mechanical delay with that flight, I left the house at 7 am and I’m still not on a plane, but I’m not going to let it get me down. This weekend is the 38th annual AHA HomebrewCon; held this year in Baltimore, MD. This will be my first time attending the 3 day event (if I ever get there) and I’m very excited to take part in the festivities, connect with old friends, and make many new ones. 

       Tomorrow the final round of the National Homebrew Competition 2016 will be judged. I’m fairly new to judging and have only done a few competitions but I enjoy it and always learn so much. We will be using the beer checklist scoresheet for this competition, as we did for the regional competition. This is a shorter version of the BJCP scoresheet that replaces the written notes sections with checkboxes for descriptors of aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression. There is still some space to give written feedback to the brewer. For meads, we used the full sheet at regionals, no word yet if that will be the case at the final round. Judging is a great way to help develop home brewers and give them direct feedback on their beers, meads, and ciders as well as developing the judges’ skills in evaluating and critically discussing beverage. 

      The keynote will be given Thursday evening by Sam Caligione of Dogfish Head Brewing. 

       Friday and Saturday there are seminars all day, along with a expo show floor and book signings by authors of some of the key books in homebrewing and craft beverage. Some of the featured seminar speakers include Charlie Papazian, author of the Complete Joy of Homebrewing, founder and current president of the Brewers Association; Ken Schramm of Schramm’s Mead in Ferndale, Michigan and author of The Compleat Meadmaker; Dr. Patrick McGovern, Anthropologist and Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia; Randy Mosher, author of The Brewers Companion and Tasting Beer; Rob Kasper, Baltimore journalist and author of Baltimore Beer: A Satisfying History of Charm City Brewing; and many more. Seminars cover a wide range of topics from historical information to the brewing process to tips and information for those making the leap to the professional brewing world and workshops for improving or building a homebrew club. 

       Thursday night brings craft beer kickoff night with 14 homebrew clubs and 53 breweries. Friday night is club night, a showcase for 81 participating clubs from across the U.S. Clubs make the most of this forum to display their uniqueness and fun culture as well as bring their favorite beers to Con attendees. Saturday evening closes the conference with the Grand Banquet.  We will enjoy a paired beer dinner by Brewers Association Executive Chef, Adam Duyle. The awards for the competition will be given out at this time.  

       I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences at this Con with all of you in more detail as the weekend goes on. 
Oh, snap, this bird is finally boarding.