I’m have just returned from the National Association Wine and Beer Makers annual show in Manchester. The association is a group of amateur wine and beer makers who take their home brew incredibly seriously.
I joined the association last year in order to up my brewing game and connect with other brewers. Joining the association led me to their recipe page and to Phill Turner’s recipe for Old Burton Ale that I brewed last summer. Phill encouraged me to enter the Ale into the annual show.
Over Christmas I brewed a new batch of the Burton Ale and a batch of Dry Stout. I have to say that I had a whole bunch of brewing issues over the Christmas period. I also brewed an Oatmeal Stout. The first two beers each
went into 6 bottles for the show and the remainder into pressure barrels. The Oatmeal Stout went into a barrel. I thought I’d managed to oxygenate the Oatmeal Stout but it turned out fine, perhaps a little acidic. The Ale and Dry Stout were both flat as a pancake in the barrels – both barrels had leaked.
It didn’t stop them being drunk of course. Carbon Dioxide was added and they were passable. But it worried me because I didn’t know how the bottles were going to turn out.
After arriving at the showing, I picked a bottle of each to enter. And opened a bottle of each. I didn’t enjoy either – it was probably nerves, but the Old Burton Ale was very different bottle conditioned to the barrel.
I spent the Saturday stewarding, helping a judge with the Barley Wines and a Sweet wine class. It was a very interesting experience. The judge had been making beers for over 40 years and had previously been the president of the NAWB.
Amazingly, my Dry Stout came second in the competition. At the dinner in the evening, I met with the winner and his stout was pretty amazing. I’m told by the judge that it was a close thing.
The Burton Ale on the other hand did not chart. Apparently the bottle was not filled enough (perhaps I chose a dud bottle) and the profile not correct for the recipe. Looking back on the brewing day, I should have got a better mash temperature.
Getting a second however was a compliment and I’m going to try harder for next year. Maybe I will enter some wine too.
The association has many old hands at brewing and I would not be surprised if there was a collective 1000 years of brewing experience. The association needs to attract some younger members to pass this experience on and cultivate it.