Autumn in Minnesota starts with every Minnesotan’s favorite annual event: The Great Minnesota Get-Together. For several years, our head brewer Jim entered the Minnesota State Fair Home Brew Competition to get valuable feedback on different beer recipes and also to compete for the top honor of Best of Show.
Home brew competitions are a fun way to see how your beer stacks up against other home brew and also to get unbiased feedback from locally, regionally or nationally renowned beer judges. In the case of the State Fair, your beer competes against 700+ other entries and is judged by some of the nation’s top home brew judges.
In previous years he won ribbons in different beer style categories at the State Fair, including for a Baltic Porter and Munich Dunkel (both of which will be regular or rotating beers at the taproom). But last year, he entered a mixed culture sour beer aged on ripe organic Colorado peaches and lightly toasted oak. Not only did it win the category it was in, but it won overall Best of Show against nearly 750 other home brew entries! Needless to say, it was an exciting win.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the beer, it was a blend of a few pale (i.e. light in color) beers including a Belgian saison, French biere de garde and a pale sour beer fermented with lactic acid bacteria and the wild yeast Brettanomyces. One and a half pounds per gallon of ripe organic Colorado peaches and a spiral of lightly toasted American oak was added to the blend and it was aged for several months then bottled. It’s got a big peach nose with a light, tart and dry mouthfeel and lots of peach flavor alongside light vanilla from the oak as well as wild, earthy complexity from the wild yeast.
Last year was the final State Fair Home Brew Competition that Jim could enter, as this year he will transition to a professional craft brewer as head brewer at LocAle Brewing Company. But Jim has big plans to brew this 2017 Minnesota State Fair Best of Show beer at the brewery. Plans that include fermenting it in Minnesota white wine barrels. We are hoping to have this award-winning beer available annually starting next fall!