Bubbling interest in amateur brewing

There’s a perception that home brewers are cheapskates, spending hours to save pennies on beer that not even their mothers would drink. But bubbling away beneath our mainstream lager culture there’s an amazing world of amateur brewers, doing it all from scratch to emulate the great beer styles of the world.

Last week Canberra’s amateur brewers fielded one hundred and fifty three beers in its annual championship. And from this field they put forward thirteen extraordinary category winners for a best-of-show taste off.

I was one of five judges assessing the amazingly diverse champions: three wheat beers (light wheat, German weizen and Belgian blonde), Australian lager, classic American pilsener, Californian common, American pale ale, schwarz bier, bock, robust porter, dry stout, Scottish heavy ale and English barley wine.

They were terrific beers. But how do you compare such contrasting, sometimes idiosyncratic, styles? Well, in beer world we judge each against its style specification.

And in a tight battle, the winner was Dan Rayner’s appropriately rich, hoppy American Pale Ale, brewed on the balcony of his small apartment.

You’ll be able to taste it soon as the Wig & Pen sponsors the trophy and brews the winning recipe each year in a one-off salute to local beer nuts.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007