When looking at a community’s craft beer scene, the home brewer is the heart of where it all begins. Skagit Valley has a thriving home brewer scene which includes the Skagit Farm to Pint Home Brewers annual competition. Three home brewers will have some heavy medal to show off after the Skagit Farm to Pint home brew competition awards at Skagit Farm to Pint FEST on March 30th.
The 2019 identicALE Pale home brew competition sold out with 50 home brewers participating. All the home brewers picked up the same bundle of ingredients to create a five-gallon, all-grain Pale Ale recipe. Three different types of grain were donated by Skagit Valley Malting along with three different types of hops donated by North Sound Brewery and yeast donated by Northwest Brewers Supply.
The home brewers had six weeks to create their Pale Ale. They had to use all the Skagit Valley grains provided, any amount of the hops provided with no other additions and ferment the beer with the yeast provided. Winner of the competition, Ben Holm, said “I wanted to create a well-balanced beer with the available ingredients. I think the Pale Ale category was an excellent showcase for Skagit Valley Malting’s products and that gave me a great starting position to try to keep the hop bitterness and flavors balanced with the subtle malt flavors from Skagit Valley Malting.”
The judging took place at the Cardinal Craft Brewing with 13 judges including experienced judges, instructors, brewers, brewery owners, and industry leaders. Tony Savoy, Cardinal Craft instructor, formatted the judging which included notes and scales on appearance, aroma, flavor, mouthfeel and style. The judging took place in two rounds – the first round the four tables of judges pushed forward three of their top beers to the final round. The final round consisted of all the judges and included an elimination process in where the round director asked each judge which beers they recommend removing. If there were no objections to the removal, the beer was eliminated until the top three were left. Ben Holm took first place (for the second time!) with second place going to Darin Hamm and third place to Glen Grisham.
“Winning last year felt amazing. The reaction from the crowd at the Skagit Farm to Pint FEST was excellent. I still get comments from the brewing community a year later. I am still in a little shock to find out I won again. I know many of the brewers in this year’s lineup and they are amazing brewers with trophies and medals of their own”, said Holm.
Holm’s winning beer is being brewed by Cardinal Craft Brewing and served at the Skagit Farm to Pint FEST on March 30t along with more than 26 other beers from all 13 of the Skagit Valley breweries. Proceeds from the festival go to the non-profit Viva Farms. “If the crowd has a good reaction to the beer again this year, then I am going to be thrilled. I really enjoy the food pairing with local restaurants. Ultimately, I thought the festival had it all, great beer, food and live music. I’ll take a double helping of that please”, said Holm.