YPSILANTI – Saturday’s ABC Brews Crews Homebrew Competition, held at the Corner Brewery, was the largest in the event’s six-year history, with nearly 400 beers, meads and ciders entered by more than 100 homebrewers from Ishpeming in the Upper Peninsula to Toledo, Ohio, and many points in between.
The Beer Judge Certification Program sanctioned event featured approximately 50 judges — including professional brewers, Certified Cicerones and fellow homebrewers — weighing in on brews in 28 different categories during a marathon all-day judging session preceding the awards ceremony at 6 p.m., which was attended by many of the entrants. (Three other judging sessions were held prior to the event due to the number of entries, up by around 70 from last year.)
The categories with the most entries included American Ale (39), Belgian and French Ale (33) and India Pale Ale (31), with gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to winners in each category.
Joe Nielson of Berkley not only beat out 28 other entries to take the gold in the Specialty Beer category with his Rye IPA, but he also took Best of Show for beer. Roger Burns of the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild (AABG) won Best of Show for mead with his Cherry Bomb Melomel, a blend of Tupelo honey mead and Burns’s version of Heart of Darkness, a limited-edition melomel produced by Ken Schramm, fellow AABG member and author of “The Compleat Meadmaker.”
According to Burns, it was a challenge to try to replicate Schramm’s Heart of Darkness — made with sour cherries, black currants, red raspberries and Michigan honey — because of how Schramm produces it.
“Ken’s meads are world-renowned and start with the best ingredients, off his own land, in significant quantities,” he said. “I haven’t had the opportunity yet to grow my own fruit, but have tried to stay true to his methods of using whole fruit and the best honey.”
In a fun twist, Schramm was one of the judges who, along with a crew at Detroit’s B. Nektar Meadery, evaluated Cherry Bomb, awarding it a gold in its category and nominating it for Best of Show.
The annual Brews Crews event is held every June and sponsored by Arbor Brewing Co. and the AABG, amongst others. For more information and to see the entire list of winners in each category, visit brewscrews.aabg.org.