Passionate amateur home brewers were given an opportunity to show off their talents at Waterwheel Beach Tavern’s first Homebrew Brew Off.
The Homebrew Brew Off at Lake Tyers Beach was contested over three sessions, concluding with the final ‘sesh’ on Sunday, October 6.
Session one was the feedback session. The judges sampled and critiqued every beer and provided feedback and notes to every entrant. This gave each contestant a chance to take the judges’ advice and brew another, possibly better beer.
Judging began in earnest at session two with only half the entrants going through to the next round.
The final big ‘sesh’ was judged by all the brewers that didn’t get through and the official judges with Dean Scurr’s pilsner earning the top honour. Aaron Karanikis received the people’s choice prize for his red ale.
Dean will get his beer commercially produced by Waterwheel Beach Tavern. This includes beer on tap, packaged beer for a limited release, branding and label design. He also received $1000 worth of marketing.
“Dean put in a few beers and they were all excellent, but it was his pilsner that took it out,” organiser, Tony Carroll, said.
“We chose the pilsner for its marketability and saleability. There were red IPAs, red ales and a mango milkshake sour, but we thought the pilsner would be easy on people’s palates.
“We are going to sell it over the summer months as an easy-drinking beer that goes well with seafood. It will fit in well with us.
“Aaron was the people’s choice winner. He is a very passionate home brewer that knows his stuff. He got into the judges about how he can make his beers better and through probably sheer enthusiasm he got the people’s choice award.
“It was a really tough call for the judges. We sat down and debated on about four and then we went into a back room where no one could see us and thrashed it out amongst ourselves.
“Something that ticked all the boxes was Dean’s pilsner in the end. Dean and I and my marketing man are working together coming up with a label and a name for his brew.
“Dean is going to be involved with the actual brewing process with Wayne at Red Bluff Brewers.
“We will punch out a trial keg and make sure all the quantities are right and then we will go into full scale production.”
Tony said the judges had a hard time picking a winner.
“Right throughout we were blown away by the standard. The quality was unbelievable,” he said.
”Homebrewing is not like it used to be when you picked up a tin of Coopers and away you went.
“These guys are spending a lot of time and effort perfecting their craft. It blew us away that’s for sure.
“Kev (co-organiser Kevin Campbell) and I sat in on the final round as judges and you think it is a dream job tasting beer all day, but there is a fair bit to it.
“You’ve got to mark everyone on merit. The scoresheet had a bit to get through as we ticked off on things like taste, mouth feel and scent.
“Having Chris (Moore) from Sailor’s Grave Brewery and Wayne (Burnett) from Red Bluff Breweries there as well was good because those boys certainly know their beers and could tell it wasn’t just a kit brew.
“We had blokes that were growing their own hops and coming up with weird and wonderful creations.”
Tony was blown away by the support of the inaugural Homebrew Brew Off and hopes the competition continues to grow and evolve alongside the local homebrewing community.
“Now that we have done this first one we are hoping that it is going to be an annual event,” he said.
“We want to create a bit of a club for lack of a better word.
“Guys can meet here on one Sunday of the month, try their beers and talk about their beers.
“We are actully going to put the winning brew on tap. The winning brewer can tell his mates that his beer is good enough to be made commercially.
“We hear about homebrewing all the time across the bar and we thought there must be a few that are brewing.
“We thought we should have a brew comp and it just went from there. Next year when we do it, it will be bigger and better.
“We were lucky enough to get the boys from the Latrobe Valley Brew Club involved and they helped bulk up the entries quickly.
“It was a good following and we had a lot of local support. The guys that did come down were happy to try the beer as well.
“It created a bit of banter in the brewing fraternity in the area. We didn’t realise we had that many around that fancied themselves as a brewer.
“There are people who got interested in brewing and created networks at the competition that they can utilise to make and improve their own brews.
“Every man has got a hobby as they say and brewing is not a bad hobby.”
PICTURED: Jamie Cameron, Chris Moore, of Sailor’s Grave Brewery, and Wayne Burnett, of Red Bluff Brewers, had a hard time judging the winner at the final ‘sesh’ of Waterwheel Beach Tavern’s first Homebrew Brew Off on Sunday, October 6. Dean Scurr’s pilsner earned the top honour, while Aaron Karanikis received the people’s choice prize for his red ale.