In the beginning of 2015, Chad and I got involved with several local home brewing clubs. The experience we've had with both of the brewing clubs has been invaluable. We’ve met so many fun, smart, and creative brewers, who have built a wealth of knowledge from their collective years of brewing experience. The clubs provide a chance for us to swap samples, recipes, ideas, and all kinds of tips and tricks with other homebrewers. (Shout out to Red Ledge Brewers and Greater Lansing Brewtopian Society!)

We were encouraged by our brewing clubs to enter some home brewing competitions, as another way to get honest, helpful feedback about our beer. This year, we entered our first competitions – the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) National Homebrew Competition (the world’s largest beer competition!), and the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry (GLINTCAP) Competition. (We entered the “non-commercial” category for GLINTCAP, since we aren’t at the point where we are making anything for sale yet.)

We packed up bottles of our Pineapple IPA and a sweet heirloom hard cider to send to the AHA competition, and bottles of another, more tart and crisp “new world” style cider to GLINTCAP. We didn’t think about the competitions much for a couple weeks, until Chad woke up one morning and said, “I had a dream that we got a medal in the home brewing competition.” That VERY SAME DAY, Chad got an email saying that we placed 3rd in our category, and our Pineapple IPA would be going on to the final round of judging in the AHA national competition! It was so surreal, partly because it was our first competition, and partly because of Chad’s dream. We took home a gold certificate for our Pineapple IPA, which was entered in the Fruit Beers category, and a respectable silver certificate for our heirloom cider.

AND THEN, yesterday, we found out through our brewing club friends that we also received a gold medal for the cider that we entered in GLINTCAP!!! Can you say EXCITED?!? A ludicrous amount of fist pumping, high fives, feet stomping, and shouting ensued after we found out we did so well in BOTH competitions.

The medals are based on the number of points awarded to each sample by the judges. Certified judges give points based on aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression. Judges also write their suggestions on the forms so that we can see their thoughts about the samples.

This has definitely been a positive and encouraging experience for us. We’ve made some beers in the past that were failures, and some that were just “ok,” but with these recent successes, we are starting to see persistence pay off. Tweaking a recipe to get it just right can be a frustrating and lengthy process, because there are so many variables that go into making a good beer. If one little thing is off during your brew day or fermentation, it can make a huge difference. We don’t want our beers to be just “ok” at Dimes Brewhouse. We are going to work hard at fine-tuning our brewing skills, so that we can create an entire menu of gold medal-worthy beverages.

In Mid-May, we’ll be sending in more samples of the Pineapple IPA for the final round of judging, which will be held in June at the AHA Homebrew Conference in Baltimore. Wish us luck!