Local Tamarac Homebrewer Only Floridian to Win Gold at National Conference

Ed Bronson / Brewers Association
Commercial brewers, such as New Belgium with their Fat Tyre display, were on hand with samples and swag.
Any favorite brews, brewers, or breweries that inspire you to take that extra step each time you make a batch?

You have all the local hero's like Mike Halker from Due South, Matt Webster from Tequesta Brewing, Matt Coxx from Big Bear and Ryan Sentz and crew from The Funky Buddha. There are countless others from Pensacola to Key West. About two years ago, I had visited almost every active brewery in the state, now I just can't keep up; it's a great problem to have! Miami is on fire right now, Delray Beach is coming on-line soon....this list goes on and on and it's so great what all these brewers are doing to make it better for we the beer drinkers.

You are a member of the Fort Lauderdale Area Brewers, anything you want to tell us about them?

I've been a relatively active member of the Fort Lauderdale Area Brewers (FLAB) for the past year or two. It's a great club for anyone that is interested in home brewing or new to the brewing process. The club meets at Geronimo's in Davie on the second Wednesday of every month. I'd like to invite, and I know the club would be very happy to meet, anyone that is interested in the brewing process and have them attend. The meetings are very informal with a review of club business at the beginning and then we all share our latest brews for critique, review, discussion and enjoyment. We have various social events like a club happy hour and group brew events. Find us on Facebook for more information.

Finally, what would you recommend for someone to take the steps you have to go to a national competition?

First get some experience locally and support the Florida Homebrew Circuit while you are at it. If you want to be successful in any homebrew competition, the first step is to enter, even if it's your first batch and you think it's terrible. The feedback you can receive from a BJCP Certified Beer Judge can be extremely helpful. Try to keep an extra bottle of the beer and drink it as you review the comments. The score sheet may identify flavors or flaws in your beer that you may have been blind to, or other comments that can help improve your brewing.

To be successful at the National Homebrew Competition you need to brew the best beer possible as you are up against the best beers in the nation. You also need to pay attention to when the entry window opens as the competition reaches its maximum number of entries in a matter of hours. Save five bottles in the back of your fridge, you will ship the first two bottles to one of the regional judging centers for the first round. If you don't place in the first round you can enter your other three bottles in a local competition or enjoy them with friends. If you do place at the regional or the first round level, you will then receive notification on where and when to send the rest of your entries for the final round of judging. Be sure to wear your lucky boxers on bottling day, shipping day and any of the days that the judging is taking place.

Brewers Association
We raise our glasses to Russ, and to all homebrewers who put passion into their beer!
In addition to Russ's win, this year marked the first time in 30 years that a woman has won the coveted Homebrewer of the Year. Annie Johnson from Sacramento, California secured the top prize with her Lite American Lager.

For a complete list of winners, check out the AHA winner's list.

If you are interested in starting up in the beer making process, or are seeking to further your hobby, local resources abound, including homebrew shops (BX Beer Depot and Funky Buddha Homebrew Shop) and homebrew clubs (Palm Beach Draughtsmen, Fort Lauderdale Area Brewers, Miami Area Society of Homebrewers)

Beer things in your Twitter feed -- Follow me @DougFairall

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