A dash of chemist and a couple ounces of engineer but an all craft beer lover.
That’s the makeup of many of the home brewers that will be vying for the public’s and professional brewers’ votes on Saturday at the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) South Okanagan competition.
“It is art and science combined,” said Warren Everton, a home brewer from Penticton and one of the 10 competitors. “There is a billion cells of this, finding the PH gravity, figuring out how much alcohol but then again it’s a bit like making a soup or stew. There is a little bit of love, a little bit of this and that, watching it boil and the creative side too, which I quite like.”
The CAMRA South Okanagan home brewing competition puts brewers head-to-head vying for attendees votes and a panel of professional brewers for the ultimate award — the Brewer’s Choice.
“Some of these competitors are CAMRA members, others are independent home brewers. The event is really just a nice way to tie in the home-brewing community with the craft beer loving community,” said CAMRA president Kim Lawton.
Everton will have a New England IPA, a sour ale and a breakfast stout on tap. Beers that he couldn’t have even imagined being able to make at home when he first started years ago.
“I was into making my own beer when I was younger in college, then I stopped. Then, six years ago, I heard there was going to be a hop shortage so I planted some in my backyard — plus, they were going to look nice over my pergola. Once they grew I didn’t know what to do with these things and some people I know at Firehall Brewery suggested I try brewing a batch of my own beer. The first beer I made, after watching YouTube videos, was pretty good. I was hooked,” said Everton who has built an elaborate set up at home to craft his beers.
Craft brewing is a booming industry in the province and recently Expedia.ca named Penticton one of the Best Beer Towns in Canada. Only Victoria and Revelstoke were the other B.C. towns named.
There is no limitation on the home brewers in the competition, just bring your best beer forward. Last year’s winner was Marc Shields who made a Chocolate Chip Cookie Ale, second place went to Evan Cadwallader with his Area 34 Milk Brown 34C and third place was Brad Kotnik who made a beer called Slippery When Wet Hop Pale Ale.
“We see quite a range of home brewers to those who use shops like Trellis and Vine in Penticton to people who have very elaborate home brewing systems. Some even grow their hops in their backyard. That is a real testament to the home brewing industry’s growth. There is this natural evolution from people who love craft beer and then start making their own and then many want to move into the industry,” said Lawton.
Last year’s winner, Shields, has since become the brewer at Siding 14 Brewing Company in Alberta.
“These beers will not be some old kit your grandpa used. This is almost professional quality produced beer,” said Lawton.
Professional brewers on the judging panel include Ian Dyck (Cannery Brewing), Andrew Anker (Highway 97 Brewing) and Robert Theroux (Bad Tattoo Brewing). The event is free to attend and to give your opinion, however you need to reserve tickets in advance through EventBrite.
The brewing competition takes place at the Square One Hop Growers, on the way to Naramata. And, it couldn’t be a better time of the year for it as hop production is in full swing.
“They are in full harvest and the cool thing is that throughout the event, people can go out with the owners and have a tour of the hop yard, check out the different hops and see the harvest process,” said Lawton.