Saturday, January 9, 2010

Decadence takes 1st Place

~Our 1st place trophy from the Star City Brewers Guild's December 2009 "Imperial Anything" Competition. A very proud moment.~

We're members of Roanoke's local homebrewers' guild, Star City Brewers Guild - aka, SCBG, We're proud to be part of such a great group and are grateful for the chance to get to learn from, and drink with, other homebrewers. Unfortunately, the Roanoke Valley is not yet known for it's appreciation of good beer.
Every year the SCBG holds 4 different competitions, spaced out over the course of the year. We don't normally enter them, as we're working towards opening our own brewery and choose to focus on perfecting our own recipes. The general rule has been that if we had a beer that fit the competition, then we could enter it. To date, we've entered 3 competitions with SCBG: Dec. 2008's Porter Competition (we entered an Imperial Vanilla Bourbon Porter ... not exactly to style!), March 2009's Brown Ale Competition (we entered our Back Porch Brown Ale), and then Dec. 2009's "Imperial Anything" Competition. We had yet to be sent up to the final round, much less place.
One thing about competitions, especially ones where you don't have BJCP certified judges, is that they're REALLY subjective. The judges are seeking out flaws, many of which are hard to detect and often flavors that the brewer intended to put in the beer. It's tricky. So, competitions aren't something we put too terribly much stock in.
This past SCBG meeting (which, ironically enough was held Jan. 2, 2010 because of a big snow that hit the weekend it was to be held in December) we weren't holding our breathes. Decadence is a big beer. The name embodies it. We titled it as an "Imperial Bourbon Chocolate Stout." Since this was an "Imperial Anything" competition there were Imperial Pale Ales, Belgian Ales, Pilsners, Stouts, Porters and so on. Titles were required so the judges would know what to base their judging on - and each beer was judged by it's style, not against other beers. At least not till the final round, where the judges pick what they feel is the best beer.
But, like I said, we weren't holding our breathes. We were shocked to find that Decadence had been sent up to the final round, which was a large round due to many entries. When the winners were announced we were blown away to find out that we got 1st place. Our first time placing at all in a competition. A very proud moment. We were especially proud because Decadence is the first beer we really crafted together as a team. And, that particular batch was brewed on a good day, with friends over, good food, and, most importantly, the kids helping out. It was a great day. It is something that confirms to us that we each have our own part to contribute, that this is a family brewery ... even if right now it is a homebrewery.

But there is something that matters much more to us than a trophy, and always has. It is hearing people try our beers and tell us what they think. It is that "oh yea" expression on someone's face. We brew beers that WE like, that we hope YOU like. Competitions, contests, awards, trophies ... all those things are secondary. Nice if you win, a little bit of a bummer when you don't, but nonetheless, secondary.
Driving home that night we were both a little overwhelmed by the win. More overwhelmed by the praises of Decadence's quality and the "THAT'S a good beer!"

Thank you. Thank you all, even those of you who weren't at the meeting. Thank you for drinking our beer. Thank you for liking it. Thank you for asking for refills, and for the praise and smiles.

... and thanks for the trophy. ;)

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