263 S 15th St | Philadelphia, PA 19102
This past Monday, June 3, we hit up the Extreme Homebrew Challenge 2014 at Jose Pistola’s in Philadelphia. It was the 7th year for the event, which is part of Philly Beer Week.
Tickets were $25 in advance and $30 at the door, which got you a tasting cup for sampling the dozens of homebrews on offer and raffle tickets for voting for the People’s Choice winning brew. A panel of judges were on hand to choose three outstanding homebrews to be named Judge’s Choice winners. A frikin of Dogfish’s 75 Minute was available at $5 a glass.
A rare occurrence, all three Beer Busters, Steph, Dan and I, attended the event together. Nearly all the beers we sampled were fantastic, though some were definitely more “extreme” than others. The first brew we sampled was the Wu-Tang-themed 36 Chambers Wheat Saison by friends of the podcast (and future guests) Joe Moran and Matthew Kennedy of Outta Hand Brews. It was, like all their beers I’ve tried, excellent.
As we made our way down the line, the table was laden not only with copious amounts of homebrews but also various tempting snacks. Matthew Myers had on hand an Imperial Stout aged on oak called Jealousy (from a long line of infidelity-themed beer names, including…”Infidelity”) paired with homemade marshmallow made with the stout.
Next up was another stout and confectionary combo. With Stout A Doubt, another imperial, aged in whiskey barrel with espresso beans by Neal Shannon sat next to trays of oh-my-god-so-delicious dark chocolate cupcakes made with the stout and topped with cream cheese frosting.
We got to chatting with Dean Pierce and learned that he is planning to open a brewery close to us, in Wyomissing, PA, in the building that houses ViVA, a bistro and lounge (and, as an aside, probably my father’s favorite restaurant). Construction is slated to begin in June or July. His beers for XHC were Wee Little Ditty, a strong Scotch ale and Bundle of Joy, a barrel aged imperial stout. Keep an eye out for Pierce Brewing Company.
Some other notable brews:
- Got My Mojo Workin’ Mojito Saison by Chris Clair
- TARDIS Smoked Belgian Dark (for Tea And Raisins Dipped In Smoke, not Time And Relative Dimension In Space) by David Lieberman
- And We Bid You Goodnight Chamomile Honey Saison by Adam Clark (who was kind enough to replace my tasting cup after I accidentally cracked it – this was several beers into the night)
- Chupacabra Smoked Porter aged on chipotle peppers (which was, of course, one of Steph’s favorites) by Ryan Ritter
- Red Dawn Lambic and Final Say Saison by Jason Wasnick of Aries
There were many, many more great beers. Pretty much every one I sampled was definitely worthy of making the leap from homebrew to commercial. But there can only be so many winners…
Before the winners were announced, Sam Calagione took the mic and remarked that Dogfish Head used to be made fun of for “putting weird shit in beers” and now, of course, the beer world is a better place for it. That embracing of experiment summed up the adventurous spirit of the Extreme Homebrew Challenge.
And the winners were…
The winners of the People’s Choice (note, the people’s choice winners were voted on by attendees who could vote for the brewer rather than a specific beer for those that had more than one):
- 3rd Place – Kevin Shaw
- 2nd Place – Michael Soo
- 1st Place – Neal Shannon
And the big winners, the Judges Choice:
- 3rd Place – Neal Shannon, With Stout A Doubt Imperial Stout
- 2nd Place – Michael Soo, Majestic Mounds Porter
- 1st Place – Michael Soo, Fuzzy Lambic
So, the breakaway star was Michael Soo and his beers were spectacular. Congratulations to Michael, Kevin and Neal. A big thanks to Jose Pistola’s, Sam Calgione and George and Nancy of Home Sweet Homebrew for putting together this showcase of homebrewing talent. And, of course, thanks to all the talented homebrewers for keeping my cup full of deliciousness all night.
Check out more pics from XHC…