Today was a wonderfully busy day, I made many new friends, reconnected with some old ones, and spent time catching up with “The Michigan Contingent”
Judging was great. As always, I learned a ton from some wonderfully kind people. Stouts in the morning session and spice/specialty meads in the afternoon made for a high abv adventure. Here’s a couple of the interesting things I came across in the mead session, there were of course, many more, some better, some less. We find out Saturday who came out on top, there were 5 pairs of judges for this category so I might not have even seen the winners at all:
Sweet Red Bell Pepper mead
Muscavado sugar, peach, and rum barrel
Sweet milk stout bouchet braggot
Sasparilla, licorice, chicory (smelled exactly like root beer)
Raspberry herbal tea on Christmas blossom and raspberry blossom honeys
After the judging sessions, I really only had time for one talk; Sources of Beer Flavor and the Importance of Sensory Training in Producing Great Beer. The talk was given by Amaey Mundkur from AROXA. This presentation covered some basic information on how smell, taste, and the other senses work together in the sensory experience, the use of industry standard language in describing beer, a handful of flavor and aroma compounds and their main causes as well as in what styles and when they might be desirable or considered off flavors, and finally a wrap up on why sensory training is important to homebrewers.
The keynote and welcoming toast was given by Sam Caligione of Dogfish head. Sam was introduced by Charlie Papazian and Gary Glass. The attending AHA members were first addressed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who toasted our community and presented the AHA with a proclamation that June 9-11 shall be ‘Homebrewer Days’ in the State of Maryland.
Sam Caligione spoke about community, ingenuity, and the people who have influenced him on his journey with Dogfish Head. He described what it was like to “find his tribe” as he discovered homebrewing and its community, moving from his hope to be a writer or professor to work instead creatively with beer. Sharing a favorite passage from Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”, Sam touches on what it means to truly enjoy something, to be an aficionado, to be involved and present. Moving to a focus on his brewery, some of the collaborative efforts of DFH were highlighted, including the recent record store day beer and CD ; ‘Beer to Drink Music to’ and ‘Music to Drink Beer to’. He left us with advice for life from Warren Zevon, to “Enjoy Every Sandwich”
The Craft beer kickoff was a success with many local breweries and others from various states showcasing some great brews. The Maryland clubs were also featured at this event.
I spent a decent portion of time in the earlier part of today looking around myself in very large rooms full of people and thinking about diversity, or lack of it, and considering if and how it is or isn’t a problem here. It’s not the first time I’ve really thought about this and I’ve got some things to say about what it is, what we (the community) think it is, and what those looking from the outside think it is. I’ll address this in more detail later. Whatever the answer is or isn’t I’ll tell you this, I won’t be waiting in any restroom lines this weekend.