This past weekend Philadelphia, Pennsylvania hosted the 35th annual National Homebrewers Conference. This yearly conference, hosted by the American Homebrewers Association, boasted a conference attendance in the staggering ballpark of 3,400 people. Homebrewers and beer enthusiasts alike, flocked to Philadelphia’s Downtown Marriott to enjoy and/or show-off the nation’s best homebrews.
The big winner this year was Annie Johnson, who went home with the coveted Homebrewer of the Year award. Annie is the first woman to win this prestigious award in thirty years! While this shouldn’t be a shocking event the long-standing run of male winners ending has been a delightful surprise. More surprisingly though she won with an apparently delicious “Lite American Lager,” the very beer style universally reviled as being the favorite of the mass market brewers.
Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association had this to say on Annie Johnson’s big win: >“Homebrewing is growing fast and attractive a more diverse following. I’m pleased to see a woman win the >Homebrewer of the Year Award, and it’s impressive that she did so in a lager category. Lagers are difficult to >brew well, which shows how homebrewers are more technically proficient than ever before.”
The purpose of the National Homebrew Competition is to celebrate and recognize the increasingly professional grade home-made beers, meads, and ciders created by non-professional brewers from around the globe. Despite the national title the 2,187 homebrewers were from every US state (save Mississippi, which just legalized homebrewing) as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, three Canadian Provinces, and Belgium. Truly the beginnings of an international competition.
The competition is more than just sampling and judging with educational seminars that ranged from how to enhance your brewing technique to increasing your knowledge of the science of brewing and beers to a learning about the greater historical context/significance of beer.
The conference is extremely popular. Last years tickets sold out within twenty hours. Those interested should mark their calendars already. Next years competition is scheduled for June 12th through the 14th in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
There are plenty of fantastic female brewers in the world of craft brewers and personally I hope that the women go on an impressive winning streak to even out the statistics.
For a full list of the beers that won, their brewers, and where they were from check out the American Homebrewers Association website.