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AUG/SEP 2005 | REGIONAL | EAST COAST

Homebrewers Invade Baltimore
By Chuck Cook

On June 16–18, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) had its annual National Homebrewers Conference in beery Baltimore. With over 850 homebrewers in attendance, this was one of the most popular conferences yet. There were talks by such noted beer personalities as Vinnie Cilurzo, Lew Bryson, Phil Markowski, Sam Calagione and Jeff Sparrow. Sparrow spoke about brewing with wild yeasts and his new book, Wild Brews, which was just released by the Brewers Association.

After the serious focus of seminars and talks during the day, there was plenty of time for fun and beer tasting in the evenings for the thirsty crowds. Friday was club night, where homebrew clubs dressed in costume and served many a delicious brew. Of note was the BURP (Brewers United for Real Potables) club, located in the Washington, D.C., area, pouring excellent rauchbier, altbier, kellerbier and others. BURP won the “Best Club Night” award for top homebrew club.

The Cincinnati Malt Infusers also had a very good beer selection at club night, including a dry-hopped IPA, a bock and a barley wine. CMI displayed a pirate theme, with specially made black golf shirts and red bandanas. With Susan and Jen serving tasty brews, it was a very popular booth. There were many other clubs in attendance as well, offering brews with enthusiasm.

Food was in abundance at club night as well, a real smorgasbord, which never ran out even though the event ran until midnight. This is a great night to attend, whether or not you are a homebrewer; there must have been at least 100 beers pouring in the room!

“Unbound by such trivial matters as market share and production cost, these guys really cut loose and make amazing beers.”

On Saturday, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head hosted a tasting of a new beer based on another ancient recipe to which he has access. The always-engaging Calagione wowed the crowd with tales of Midas Touch, tomb discoveries and visits from black-suited federal agents. It is quite a life Sam leads.

Around Baltimore, events were held and special beers rolled out all week. A Unibroue beer dinner at Max’s on Broadway with many a special brew was put on by cellar man Casey Hard. There was a beer breakfast at Sean Bolan’s and a whole year’s worth of seasonal beers on tap at The Brewer’s Art. The two locations of the Wharf Rat were in fine form, with cask-conditioned British-style real ales flowing, along with excellent food all around. The new DuClaw in Fells Point was shining as well.

Jim Parker, editor of New Brewer and Zymurgy, commented, “The most striking thing to me about the Homebrewers Conference is always the quality of the beer available. Unbound by such trivial matters as market share and production cost, these guys really cut loose and make amazing beers.”

Agreed, Jim. The quality of homebrewed beer here was very high. On that note, I give you the champions: BURP members Dave and Becky Pyle were awarded the AHA National Homebrewers of the Year award. Congrats!

The AHA Conference will be held in Orlando next year, June 22–24, 2006. Enjoy!

Chuck Cook is a freelance writer living in Richmond, Va. His passions are beer and travel, and he has written for various beer publications. He can be reached via e-mail at chuck@beerandtravel.com.

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