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Homebrewers make 1% of beer brewed in US

A survey conducted for the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) indicates that homebrewers produce more than 2 million barrels of beer a year, a barrel being 31 gallons. This represents one percent of total U.S. beer production.

According to the survey, there are an estimated 1.2 million homebrewers in the United States. Two-thirds of them began brewing in 2005 or later.

“The homebrewing community is in every corner of the country and highly engaged in this hobby,” AHA director Gary Glass said for a press release. “From the amount of money spent on supplies to the sheer number of homebrewers, it’s clear this is a growing trend and people are incredibly interested in learning about and making their own brews at home.”

From the survey:

– Demographics: The average homebrewer is 40 years old, with most (60%) falling between 30 and 49 years old. The majority of homebrewers are married or in a domestic partnership (78%), have a college degree or some form of higher education (69%), and are highly affluent — nearly 60% of homebrewers have household incomes of $75,000 or more.

– Location: Homebrewers are fairly evenly spread across the country, with the slight plurality congregated in the West (31%), followed by the South (26%), Midwest (23%) and the fewest in the Northeast (17%).

– Production: In terms of brew production, homebrewers mainly stick to beer — 60 percent of respondents brew only beer at home, compared to wine, mead or cider. AHA members and people affiliated with the AHA on average brewed nearly 10 batches of beer per year, at 7 gallons a batch, which is 15% more batches and nearly 30% more volume than homebrewers who were not affiliated with the AHA.

Retail: Nearly all homebrewers (95%) shop in two local homebrew stores eight or nine times a year, while a majority (80%) also shops in three online stores five times a year. On average, homebrewers spend $800 a year—about $460 on general supplies and ingredients, and $330 on equipment.

The survey was completed by more than 18,000 homebrewers via an online survey from July 30 to September 3, 2013. Of the respondents, 65% were members of the AHA, and 35% were unaffiliated homebrewers.

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Annie Johnson wins Homebrewer of the Year

Annie Johnson of Sacramento, Calif., won Homebrewer of the Year when results of the American Homebrewers Association National Homebrew Competition were announced Saturday in Philadelphia.

A record 3,400 attended the 35th National Homebrewers Conference, 75 percent more than last year.

Johnson won with a beer she called her Lite American Lager.

Tavish Sullivan won the Cidermaker of the Year award with his Common Cider, and Mark Tanner won the Meadmaker of the Year award with his Strawberry, Rhubarb and Blackberry Mead. Local homebrewer David Barber won the Ninkasi Award as the winningist brewer in the competition. He won gold medals in the Strong Ale and German Wheat and Rye Beer categories; his homebrew club, Lehigh Valley Homebrewers also won the Gambrinus Club Award.

“Homebrewing is growing fast and attracting a more diverse following,” said AHA director Gary Glass. “I’m pleased see a woman win the Homebrewer of the Year Award, and it’s impressive that she did so in a lager category. Lagers are difficult to brew well, which shows how homebrewers are more technically proficient than ever before.”

The National Homebrew Competition recognizes the most outstanding homemade beer, mead and cider produced by homebrewers. This year, there were 7,756 entries from 2,187 homebrewers located in 49 states and the District of Columbia, U.S. Military APO, Puerto Rico, three Canadian Provinces and Belgium, entered in the first round of the competition.

First round took place at 11 regional sites in the United States. Judges evaluated 894 entries were in the second round. For the first competition, Boulder, Colo., in 1979, there were 34 entries.

Tickets for the 2013 National Homebrewers Conference went on sale Feb. 5 and sold out within 20 hours. Next year’s event will be June 12-14 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Complete NHC results.

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Homebrewers honor Pliny the Elder, Stone

American Homebrewers Association members have voted Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder the “Best Commercial Beer in America” for the fifth year running. The poll is conducted annually by Zymurgy magazine.

This is the 11th year that AHA members voted for up to 20 of their favorite beers in an online poll. Members were able to choose any commercial beer available for purchase in the United States.

The top-ranked beers include:
1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
3. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
4. Bell’s Hopslam Ale
5. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
6. Founders Breakfast Stout
7. Arrogant Bastard Ale
8. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
T9. Lagunitas Sucks
T9. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
T9. Stone Brewing Co. Ruination IPA

More than 1,100 breweries were represented in this year’s poll, and the top-ranked brewery is Stone Brewing Co., with five beers in the top 50. Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, Calif.) took second with five beers as well, followed by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., in third with four beers making the list.

Additionally, the Best Portfolio of Beers was awarded to the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams), which had 40 beers receive votes in the poll. The top contenders in the category include:
1. The Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
2. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
3. Avery Brewing Co.
4. Cigar City Brewing
5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

The complete list of Zymurgy’s “Best Beers in America.”

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Homebrew supply sales reflect growing hobby

The latest survey of homebrew suppply shops by the American Homebrewers Association confirms that interest in homebrewing continues to grow.

The AHA survey, its fourth, found that on average stores that responded to the survey enjoyed 26% higher revenue in 2012 compred to 2011.

“As homebrewing continues to grow, retail shops are responding accordingly, satisfying the needs of their increasing customer base,” AHA director Gary Glass said. “Homebrew supply shops serve as the heart of local homebrewing communities. The success of a local shop will ensure a thriving community of homebrewers.”

The survey also found that 80% of shops sold a larger quantity of beginner kits, another indication the hobby is expanding. The largest segment of people buying the beginner kits were individuals 30 to 39 years old.

The complete report.

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3,400 homebrewers headed to Philadelphia

More than 3,400 homebrewers will descend on Philadelphia next month for the 35th Annual National Homebrewers Conference June 27-29.

“The AHA National Homebrewers Conference is an amazing opportunity for beer lovers and homebrewers to come together to enrich their brewing skills, learn more about the craft and socialize with others who share their passion for homebrewing,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association.

Seminars and judging the final rounds of the AHA National Homebrew Competition are at the center of the conference. The world’s largest beer competition drew 8,263 entries from 2,187 participants. First round judges sent 940 of them on to the second round.

The seminars — with up to four presentations at the time because of how large the conference has grown — include topics like Yeast Culturing 101, Practical Malting,Alternative Wood Aging Techniques, and Beers of our Founding Fathers.

The conference sold out in 20 hours after tickets went on sale in February.

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Alabama last to legalize homebrewing

For the first time since the end of Prohibition it will soon be legal to homebrew in every state in the nation.

The Alabama Senate gave final approval to a bill that will allow residents to homebrew limited amounts of beer, wine, mead or cider. Gov. Robert Bentley’s office is reviewing the bill, but is expected to sign it relatively quickly.

That means Alabama likely won’t be the last state to “officially” legalize homebrew. Alabama’s law becomes effective as soon as Bentley signs it. The homebrew bill passed earlier this year in Mississippi goes into effect 90 days after Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill. So the Mississippi law isn’t official until July 1.

Although thousands of people in Alabama already homebrew, they’ve been breaking the law, in fact committing what legally a felony.

The soon-to-be Alabama law is more restrictive than many. It limits production to 60 gallons of beer, wine, cider or mead in a calendar year, compared to 200 gallons in some states. Those who live in dry counties or cities cannot homebrew at all. Small amounts (10 gallons or less) of homebrewed wine and beer may be transported to sanctioned competitions and craft beer shows.

“Homebrewing has been an integral part of the history of America, so it’s thrilling to know that soon all 50 states will support this growing hobby and long-standing tradition,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association. “We appreciate the backing of all of the homebrewers, the dedicated grassroots efforts of Right to Brew and the legislators who have worked so diligently to make homebrewing a reality in Alabama. We are especially grateful to Representative Mac McCutcheon who introduced this bill and has fought long and hard for its passage, along with Senator Bill Holtzclaw.”

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Homebrewing now legal in Mississippi

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a bill that will effectively legalize homebrewing throughout the state. Mississippi is now the 49th state to permit homebrewing. A Senate version of the bill passed in early February and it was then voted on by the State House of Representatives in March.

“From our founding fathers to our current President, this country has a long and storied tradition of homebrewing,” said Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association. “We appreciate the support of all of the homebrewers, the dedicated grassroots efforts of Raise Your Pints and the legislators who have worked so diligently to make homebrewing a reality in Mississippi. We are grateful to Senator John Horhn who introduced this bill and to Governor Bryant for his quick action and support.”

The 21st Amendment predominantly leaves regulation of alcohol to the states. Therefore, even though homebrewing is federally legal, it is still up to individual states to legalize homebrewing in state codes. Prior to today’s announcement, Mississippi and Alabama were the only two states that did not allow homebrewing. The AHA will continue working with homebrewers in Alabama to legalize homebrewing.

The hobby of homebrewing has seen exponential growth in recent years. The AHA estimates that more than 1 million Americans brew beer or make wine at home at least once a year. Mississippi is home to an estimated 2,200 homebrewers who may now enjoy brewing without the restrictions of a state-wide ban.

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Samuel Adams winners: Wheat, hops and strawberries

Boston Beer founder Jim Koch announced Friday that Connecticut homebrewer Zack Adams and James Schirmer from California won the national Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Contest. They will have their beers brewed by Boston Beer and distributed along with a beer from Samuel Adams employee homebrewer Dave Anderson. LongShot six-packs will include two of each winning beer.

“America’s passion for homebrewing and craft beer is at an all time high, making this year’s competition more competitive than ever,” Koch said. “This year, even the President of The United States is homebrewing at the White House. As a homebrewer for more than 25 years, I know it’s a great hobby – but it can also be a launching pad into a career or a start-up a business. I’m proud to help these winners achieve the ultimate homebrew dream by making their beer available to drinkers across the country.”

Schirmer’s beer is an American-style wheat beer called Beerflower Wheat, while Adams’ is an Imperial American IPA brewed with seven American hop varieties and thus called Magnificent Seven. Anderson made his beer with fresh strawberries, simply naming it Strawberry Lager.

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New book explores every aspect of IPA

 IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale AleWhat should “the authoritative guide to the brewing techniques and history behind” India pale ale include?

– A complete and accurate history of the style, one that addresses the various myths. Check.

– Plenty of historic recipes. Check.

– Lots of recipes for modern day versions, including many variations, and details about ingredients and process. Check.

– All the data beer and brewing geeks could ask for, packed into handy appendices. Check.

– An author who knows a little about brewing IPAs. Check.

The book is IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale and the author is Mitch Steele, head brewer at Stone Brewing Company.

A press release from Brewers Publications has more details:

“Arguably one of the leading authorities on hoppy beer, Steele is currently Stone Brewing Co.’s brewmaster, and his brewery experience ranges from the small-scale San Andreas Brewing Co. to the Anheuser-Busch specialty group. In this new book, he explores the evolution of an influential beer style, India pale ale. IPA covers techniques ranging from water treatment to hopping procedures, including 48 recipes ranging from historical brews to recipes for the most popular contemporary IPAs made by craft brewers such as Deschutes Brewery, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Pizza Port Brewing and Russian River Brewing Company.

“In addition to brewing techniques and recipes, Steele also explores the real history of IPA. Matt Brynildson, of Firestone Walker Brewing Company, explains: ‘Mitch has [written] an engaging and eye-opening history of IPA blended with immensely technical brewing information. He not only debunks the classic story of what the first IPAs really were and how they were made, but also chronicles the tragic account of ale’s rise and fall over the last three centuries. This book should sit on every brewer’s bookshelf.’ ”

More, including details about ordering.

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AHA membership surprasses 30,000

American Homebrewers Association membership

The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) reached a milestone this month with more than 30,000 members. Current estimates indicate that approximately one million Americans are making their own beer and wine at home.

The official organization for hobbyists was established in 1978, shortly after President Jimmy Carter signed the bill that legalized homebrewing. Prior to that, the hobby was illegal thanks to a vestige of prohibition-era law. Buoyed by their newfound freedom, Charlie Papazian and Charlie Matzen founded the AHA that December with the first publication of Zymurgy magazine.

Now, over three decades later, Papazian-currently president of the BA-looks back on the AHA’s inception with pride. “I don’t think we realized how dramatically the American Homebrewers Association would affect the beer world,” he said.

AHA membership actually decreased during the 1990s, but has more than tripled since 2000. Looking ahead, AHA director Gary Glass says, “We do everything we can to provide compelling benefits to our members and hopefully that keeps them excited to brew beer and support our organization. Beyond that, I think that homebrewing fulfills a need in an era when we can lose our connection to what we eat and drink.”

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French likely homebrewing 2,500 years ago

Archaeologists have discovered proof that residents of southeastern France were making beer at home during the Iron Age.

Laurent Bouby from the Centre de Bio-Archeologie et d’Ecology in Montepellier, France, and colleagues unearthed the evidence of brewing in Mediterranean France as far back as the fifth century. Studying material collected at the Roquepertuse excavation site in Provence they found poorly preserved barley grains, suggesting germination, as well as equipment and other remains of deliberate malting in the home. Taken together, these findings suggest that, as well as regular wine making, the French had an early passion for beer brewing. The work has just been published online in Springer’s journal Human Ecology.

Previously, researchers had only found evidence of wine production in the region. Bouby and team analysed three samples of sediment from excavations carried out in the 1990s. One sample was taken from the floor of a dwelling, close to a hearth and oven. The other two samples came from the contents of a ceramic vessel and from a pit. There were carbonized plant remains in all three samples, dominated by barley.

The barley grains identified were poorly preserved and predominantly sprouted (90 percent of the sample), suggesting that they were carbonized at the end of the malting process and before the grinding of dry malt. The neighboring oven is likely to have been used to stop the germination process at the desired level for beer making, by drying and roasting the grain.

Based on the equipment found at the Roquepertuse dwelling, the authors suggest that the habitants soaked the grain in vessels, spread it out and turned it during germination on the flat paved floor area, dried the grain in the oven to stop germination, and used domestic grindstones to grind the malted grain. Then hearths and containers were likely used for fermentation and storage.

The authors conclude: “The Roquepertuse example suggests that beer was really produced within the context of domestic activities. Compared to other archaeobotanical and archaeological evidence, it contributes to portraying a society which combined an intricate use of various alcoholic beverages including beer, which was probably of long-standing local tradition, and wine, which was, at least in part, promoted by colonial contacts with Mediterranean agents.”

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Pilsner Urquell holds contest for homebrewers

Pilsner Urquell is sponsoring a contest for U.S. homebrewers to “take their shot at brewing a Czech-style pilsner,” with a chance to win a trip to Plzen in the Czech Republic.

The contest will be limited to the first 50 homebrewers who reserve a spot to compete in each of three cities in August.

From the press release: “Pilsner Urquell is inviting home brewers throughout the U.S. to take their shot at brewing a Czech-style pilsner, aiming for the standard Groll first brewed nearly 170 years ago. Three winners have the chance to earn trips for two to Plzen, Czech Republic this fall to tour the historic brewery, as well as attend the International Master Bartender Competition in Prague.”

The basics:

* The Pilsner Urquell Master Home Brewer competitions will take place in New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago this August, inviting home brewers from across the country to take on this challenging beer style.

* Each competition will feature a panel of experienced judges, including Vaclav Berka, the Pilsner Urquell Brew Master in Plzen. Contestants will need to bring along three 10 to 14-ounce bottles of their home brew. The judges will sample each beer and select winners based on the following criteria:

—–70%-Accuracy to style (Czech-style pilsner)
—–15%-Cleanliness (absence of off flavors)
—–15%-Artistic impression

“Home brewing is becoming more and more popular, and these brewers keep getting more talented, so we’re excited to offer this challenging opportunity,” said Berka, who is only the sixth Pilsner Urquell brewmaster since 1842. “The competitors will need to brew carefully, but the potential prize, including their wonderful batch of beer, should be a strong incentive.”

The competition in New York will be held Aug. 8, the one in Washington on Aug. 10 and the final in Chicago on Aug. 12.

Pilsner Urquell is limiting the competition in each city to the first 50 home brewers who reserve a spot by emailing their name, phone number and competition city to PilsnerUrquelUSA@gmail.com. Pilsner Urquell will follow up directly with contestants to share the exact time and location of the competitions. More information and official rules are available at Facebook.com/PilsnerUrquellUSA .

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Samuel Adams 2011 LongShot beers released

Beers from the 2011 Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Contest – Category 23 have are now available in six packs that includes two of each beer.

Georgia resident Richard Roper’s Friar Hop Ale and Illinois resident Rodney Kibzey’s Blackened Hops beer were named the 2010 winners during the Great American Beer Festival last September. In addition, Samuel Adams also honors Employee Homebrew winner Caitlin DeClercq for her Honey B’s Lavender Wheat beer.

In the 2011 American Homebrew Contest, Samuel Adams is accepting entries across all 23 categories. The deadline to enter is May 20.

“I started homebrewing the first batch of Samuel Adams Boston Lager in my kitchen 27 years ago, and ever since then I’ve been passionate about creating unique and interesting brews that challenge the perception of what beer can be,” Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch said for a press release. “We asked homebrewers to really push beer’s boundaries and brew their own one-of-a-kind recipes.”

Information about entering is available at the Samuel Adams website.

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Homebrewers Association giving away GABF trip

The American Homebrewers Association is giving away a trip to the Great American Beer Festival. Register at HomebrewersAssociation.org before Nov. 30 to enter in the sweepstakes.

The contest winner receives airfare for two, three nights of hotel accommodations and two all-session passes to Great American Beer Festival 2011 in Denver, Sept. 29-Oct. 1. The rules.

P.S. Those registered before the contest was announced are automatically entered in the sweepstakes.

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Brewing scholarship deadline Nov. 11

The American Brewers Guild is now accepting applications for the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation slot in the Intensive Brewing Science & Engineering course that runs from Jan. (2011) through July 1, with the final week of onsite instruction in Sacramento, Calif. The full application must be received no later than Nov. 11,

The scholarship is open to professional brewers and homebrewers from the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii and California’s northern geographic region (San Francisco/Monterey Bay areas and north). The full-tuition scholarship also includes a $500 stipend to help offset travel and lodging expenses for the residential week. Full details and scholarship applications are available at www.abgbrew.com.

The course is designed for brewers and homebrewers who lack formal training in brewing science and covers all the fundamentals of beer production and quality assurance.

The scholarship is co-sponsored by ABG and the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation, a non-profit organization created to commemorate and celebrate the life, interests, and good works of a well-loved and leading Northwest brewer who died and untimely death in 2002.