The Home Brew Results from Indiana Brewers Cup 2018: The Future of Indiana Craft Beer

The Home Brew Results from Indiana Brewers Cup 2018: The Future of Indiana Craft Beer

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

This will be the last in a series of short takes on the results of the Indiana Brewers Cup (IBC) last weekend. However, that doesn’t mean that this is the last topic on my mind or is any less important than the other things Indiana On Tap has written about this week. In some ways this category, home brewer, is more important than the pros, because this is where your new pro brewers are coming from. The home brewers competition runs in parallel to the pro contest, and they have similar rules and awards, plus a couple extra.

This year the home brewers were limited to a total of 850 beers for IBC, and our amateur brewers of the country got right up to that number. I say country because many of the winners, and even more of the entries, came from all across the USA. Brewers from eleven different states and two countries (Mike from Ontario won a bronze in the Fruit Beer category) won medals, although the club and overall individual awards were limited to those brewers from Indiana. Not that it would have mattered, Indiana brewers dominated the competition.

As in the pro division, there were 32 categories of beers for judging, each of which encompassed several related beer styles. Three points were awarded for a gold medal in group, two for silver, and one for bronze. Then, the gold medal winning beers were evaluated for Best of Show in the home brewer division, again with three points for first, two for second, and a single point for third. These points were then collated amongst individual and home brew clubs to determine the Home Brew Club of the Year (most total points), the Bill Friday Club Award (highest average points/entry for the clubs) and Home Brewer of the Year (the individual with the most accumulated points).

image credit: FBI

To be considered an Indiana club, 60% of the members must a residence within the state of Indiana. This may seem trivial, but there are several clubs that are located near Indiana borders, like LAGERS in New Albany/Louisville, and MEGA (Michiana Extract and Grain Association) in northern Indiana/Michigan, and I’m pretty sure that OVHA (Ohio Valley Homebrewers Association) has members from Kentucky too. All these clubs and more won medals at IBC last weekend, although my personal favorite name was the Lincoln Lagers from Nebraska.

As for Best of Show, JD Vasher from Louisville won gold with his Tina You Fat Lard …., a beer categorized as an “other historical beer,” so only he and the judges really know what it was. The second place medal went to an unaffiliated brewer for his saison, Martin Hassink, from Cedar Lake, IN. And the bronze went to Dave Bordenkecher from the Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI) for his Two Goats doppelbock. (remember that name)

The home brew club of the year was a hands down win by FBI with 23 medals overall, although MASH Fort Wayne Home Brew Club had a more than respectable eleven and Circle City Zymurgy took home eight. But, remember that this award was for total points, there was also an award for the home brew club that had the highest average points/entry, called the Bill Friday Award. Bill Friday was a West Lafayette librarian who, with a couple of other people, started the Tippecanoe Homebrewers Circle. Bill wandered the state as a pied piper of craft beer during the 70s and 80s and helped build momentum for what we see today.

image credit: OVHA

In homage to Bill, the eponymously named award highlights the club that works for the top flight beers even if they enter as few as fifteen from as few as five members. This year the award went to Northwest Indiana Brewers Society (NIBS), yet another club we have mentioned today. In 2016 there were just 14 home brew clubs in Indiana, but my count last week had our state at more that thirty. The state of Indiana home brew is strong.

The last, but no means least, award to mention was the Indiana Home Brewer of the Year. David Bordenkecher of FBI was a one man wrecking crew this year, winning gold in the Other American Ale category with his Knucklesandwich Brown, both the Gold in category and bronze in Best of Show for his Two Goats doppelbock, and a silver in the spice/herb/vegetable beer category for his Jittery Knuckles.

Find all these beers at a festival that includes home brewers, at a bottle share, or join the club if you have to… find a way to drink them for free because it’s likely that you’ll be paying to drink many of these beers in a new brewery in the next couple of years. For example, Nathan Compton and Tim Palmer took five medals between them this year, but next year they will be in the pro division with their brews from Primeval Brewing in Noblesville.

And yet my caveat for the pro division holds true with the home brewers as well – just because a beer didn’t win a medal doesn’t mean it is inferior. Home brew on average is incredible; they don’t have to worry nearly to the same degree as pro brewers about ingredient costs or time, so beers brought by home brewers to festivals are generally stunning. Don’t believe me? Come to the Whitestown Brewfest and Home Brew Competition in September and be convinced.

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