Brewers all: A delightful National Homebrewers Conference

The NHC is over, long live the NHC.

Last week was National Homebrewer Conference week, and it was more enjoyable than I ever could have expected, even after we volunteered to help out and made up specialized pubcrawl pages for the event, plus participated in producing a pre-conference tasting and judging event.

Some of the highlights included:

  • Judge reception and dinner (thanks Sean Paxton)
  • a Brewing Network pre-party at Linden Street brewery,
  • personally judging some wonderful beers, then getting permission from Kevin Pratt to take a few pix including brief video clip of final round championship best of show deliberations  (avoiding recording any commentary on specific beers from the judges of course)
  • a remarkable professional brewers guest night featuring all kinds of astonishing special beers such as the largest pouring ever of the Our Barrel Ale project from Anchor. Really one of the best festivals I’ve been at in a long time!
  • the wonderful “Club Night” featuring food, costumes, drawings and pourings by home brew clubs.  That event felt like a community mardi gras, a very special party and meeting of the tribes.

I have not gone through all my photos yet, but more will appear. Here are a handful of photos plus the YouTube Video of judging that I made yesterday but didn’t have a chance to cross post here til now.

Just finished swapping kegs to serve from the ale camino, BN party
Serving from the “Ale Camino”

Sean Paxton designed dessert at the BJCP Judge dinner
Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton made this dessert to pair with Russian River Damnation at the BJCP reception – he also cooked for the awards banquet.

Commercial brewers night at NHC
The home brewing and beer judging community got to try local professional’s brewers’ special offerings.

Final round judging – sorting out the Best of Show finalists and going for the grand prizes

Steve and I had a great time, learning things, asking questions, seeing people I like, and trying amazing creative beers.

If you use this site, you may have wondered why we have had NHC pages up here on the Beer By BART reference site for months, when we are not a site that has a homebrewer focus. I first heard of the National Homebrewers Conference just over a year ago after the Longshot Competition when I ran into Jamil Zainasheff, whose name and face was not familiar to me at that time.  We had a brief conversation, and told him how much Steve and I love being part of the beer appreciation community and the much smaller beer & transit geek community,  and how excited I was to have judged my first BJCP-sanctioned homebrew competition.  He asked if we’d be willing to work on transit logistics for the NHC a year later. I was impressed at how forward-looking he was as an organizer, and said yes immediately.

What a lucky break!  I am not sure that I would have otherwise understood how much this event had to offer me as a still-new beer judge, a craft beer enthusiast and a beginning brewer.  If you ever have a chance, go!  (Consider it a remarkable form of Festival.) If you want to learn more about it, check out the American Homebrewers Association.  Steve and I were members long before I ever brewed a batch, because we wanted to support the craft, and get the brewpub discount card.  (In San Francisco, Rogue and 21A currently give a break to cardholders.)

For more photos from homebrew Clubs Night, click on this photo mosaic:
mosaic

(Brewers costumed in the style of San Diego (ok, not actually a costume but a hardworking pourer), Old Arizona, Diablo, and in the “looking most like the club logo on his tee shirt” category, Mad Zymurgist attire.)
(Notes posted by Gail, this time)

Explore Beer By BART; see our list of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.

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