NC Brewers Cup

This past weekend was the North Carolina Brewers Cup. It is an amazing sight seeing a number of NC breweries post the results of their beers that were entered into the competition. It was also very nice to taste a good number of them; some for the first time ever. Drinking these beers blind gave a real nice perspective of the work being done to further brewing in one of the fastest growing states. View All The Winners Here.

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The first day of the competition was all of the homebrew entries. The NC Brewers Guild hosted this competition in conjunction/for? The NC State Fair which is taking place in Raleigh really soon. I was hoping to get off easy, but I opened the day judging IPA’s. Not that there is anything wrong with that, and the homebrewers did a really great job with them but I believe my judging partner and I went through approximately 13 IPA’s before I moved on to do the Mini-Best Of Show with the other group helping out with this category… which was a total of 6 beers competing for the top 3 spots. I guess I was rewarded for my efforts, though. The next flight I did, which was relatively small, was Light Lagers. What some would call the complete opposite of an IPA.

During the afternoon session of, Belgian and French Ales. Another relatively large flight but another great showing. The category was mostly Saisons but there was also a Biere de Garde. You just don’t see that often and it got me really excited. When it was all said and done, the winner went on to sit at the Best Of Show table, where I would soon be reunited with it.

As one would expect, when it came down to judging Best Of Show, it was relatively hard. There were a few that had to be knocked out over the most trivial things. Only the best beers made it this far and homebrewers have gotten far better over the past few years so you couldn’t just kick out something that had a major flaw but happened to be best in the category. When it was all said and done, a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, a Schwarz Bier, and an American Pale Ale were the best to style, top brewed beers at the table. Though all of the entrants who made it to that table should be proud of the beer they produced.

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After day 1 came to a close, we all left to get ourselves in the right mindset to judge the entries of the commercial contest the next day. I met up with Bryan and we decided to stop into FullSteam to check out their anniversary shenanigans.

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The next morning I crawled out of bed not knowing which way is up. I guess checking out Miley Cyrus on SNL when I had to be up around 7am may not have been the best choice… oh, and the stout to keep me up during her performance. I grabbed a quick breakfast with MUCH COFFEE INCLUDED and headed back to Mystery Brewing, who was our host both days of the competition. I was really excited when I saw the morning table assignments; Pilsners. Which sadly, I do not remember very many NC brewed Pilsners I have had before this day.

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While judging through the entries, I realized how big of a mistake this was. There were many great Pilsners that after it was all said and done, I realized were available year round from some of the best breweries in the state. I guess I have some catching up to do. The quality and accuracy to style some of these beers had was indescribable. A very eye opening experience. What was next to follow, though… I thought I was already free from this pleasure.

The afternoon session was IPA’s… just like the start of my day hardly just 24 hours ago. And there were 48 entries from breweries around the state. The homebrew numbers were barely half of that. There were a few extra sets of judges, but that didn’t help much at all coming down to the Mini-Best Of Show.

Looking at the 9 beers in front of us, they all seemed identical in appearance. Several of the beers seemed to use nearly identical recipes. I mean, I don’t know what was in them but the flavor and aroma were so similar that I thought my palate and nose were just broken. The top 3, again, were very difficult to come across. They were the best of the best… and again… we go into Best Of Show.

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I thought judging Best Of Show for homebrew was difficult. I’ve done it a few times since I received my BJCP rank. But nothing could have prepared me for this. This was not only my very first time judging commercial beer in a competition. But my first time doing Best Of Show in one as well…  Talk about trying to find the best diamond in a sea of them… It came down to the smallest details about each beer. 23 set down in front of us and 3 selected as the best in NC. The pressure was really on.

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The results are linked above but these 3 beers, from 3rd to 1st, are the ones who went above and beyond this year. Also, that Pilsner that I was really embarrassed I never drank… and is available year round, from one of my favorite NC breweries… umm… yeah… I should probably head to the store. Take a look at the list and drink some of the greatest beers NC has to offer.

EDIT: Information from the press release.
We had a record number of entries in both homebrewer (191) and commercial (362) categories. We couldn’t have done it without your hard work and support!
You can find all the results here: www.ncbeer.org/brewerscup/ and a press release is attached. The top winners will be on display October 15-25 at the State Fair in the Education Building.

Cheers!

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NC Brewers Cup