Monday, July 23, 2012

Minnesota Inter-Club Campout 2012

Every year emissaries from various MN homebrew clubs converge upon an unsuspecting campground and proceed to have a weekend of homebrew festivities unrivalled by any other event.  Each year the campout is sponsored by a different club, who arranges the camp site and a Saturday dinner, and this year Jack Of All Brews stepped up to take control.  Mike Behrendt and Tim Roets did most of the work, so huge kudos go to them for all the time and effort they put into this venture!  We couldn't have done it without them, and all the other JABbers who showed up to represent us. 

This year we stayed at the KOA in Jordan, just 15 minutes from my home in Waconia.  Much closer than last year's event, which I think was in Duluth.  Apparently the festivities went on until 1:30-3 AM on Friday, but I was lame and didn't show up until Saturday morning.  When I arrived folks were serving up bloody-marys and waking up.  The previous night had had some rain, so things were drying out and the sun was starting to poke its head out from behind the lowering cloud-cover.  Our member Chris German from BSG/Rahr was kind enough to organize a school bus to Rahr for an early morning tour of the facility and new tasting room.  I missed that part, but see my earlier post about Rahr for more info on the place!  Most of the group was on the tour, which included coffee and breakfast, so it was pretty quiet at the camp when I got there.  Once the bus returned around noon, things got hopping!  Rahr was an awesome host and provided a huge bag of grain to each member of the tour group!
Bill with his big sack
Once our group had returned, we started to organize for our JAB beer/mead tasting.  Part of the camp-out is a homebrew competition which allows clubs to earn bragging rights and a sweet travelling trophy to show off for the next year.  The competition is run by the previous year's Master Of Malt (BOS) winner, and this year that was Susan Ruud.  Around 12:30 we settled ourselves on a tippy picnic table and started tasting our beers to decide which ones would represent JAB for the day.  There are four categories: Ale, Lager, Belgian, and Mead. 

JAB gang tasting meads
Mike's beers were really good, but ended up not going on as JAB, so he entered them under CRAZY...and apparently we chose poorly because he rocked the house with them: 1st for lagers with his pilsner for the second year running; and 2nd for his IPA in ales.  Next year we take Mike's beers first!  JAB also got some brewcred with 3rd place in meads for Tim's wacky tamarind and agave mead, and 1st place for my Sour Loser Flemish red! Did we wear our medals all night like geeks?  Oh Yeah!  Master Of Malt went to Al Boyce, for MHBA:  now he has to organize the competition next year.  I'll put his picture up because he is a great guy, and because he is a member of JAB too!

Al with his trophy
Heat.  Oh man was it hot out there!  I'm happy it wasn't raining on Saturday, but the humidity was insane sticky and the sun very hot.  We had a couple early casualties that I chalk up to combining the Rahr tasting room, judging the competition and the heat.  Not to mention some wicked sun burn.  I am now a true red-neck!  There were several distinct groups of us hanging out in whatever patches of shade we could find, though folks seemed to travel more once things got rolling.  I had a lot of great talks with folks I know and folks I didn't.  The incredible amount of beer on tap was certainly a help when it came to socializing!  Had Mike's great IPA several times.  Pat Sundberg from the soon-to-be-opened Jack Pine Brewery had an IPA and a roasty brown ale that get me excited check out his place. 
Jockey box heaven!
  Our Pit Boss Tim Roets was working on smoking a metric @#$%-ton of pork shoulder over Jamaican allspice wood all Friday, then started up his dueling Webers for hot and mild jerk chicken around 2PM Saturday.  With the help of some other JAB members he got some beans and rice with coconut milk cooking and some slaw to kill the heat.  During all this cookery, Tim maintained his high-energy style and helped us drink a bunch of beers and rum.  I wish I could bottle said energy and sell it on the black market...I'd be a rich rich man!

Jerk Master!
By 5:30 my stomach was trying to jump out of my abdomen after smelling this amazing smoking meat for three hours.  Tim served up several hot sauces (many home made!) and a bunch of pickled condiments to go with the pulled pork sandwiches and chicken.  Anyone who has been to one of the brewclub meetings where Tim tested these dishes out on us knows how amazing the food was.  Those who missed all three opportunities to lose!  The spice was perfect, hopefully not too much for the other Minnesotans who feel that black pepper is "hot."  I didn't see anyone taking food back.  I'm guessing the bar has just been set higher for future camp-out dinners.

After dinner we all hung out and drank more homebrews, with some good commercial beers making the rounds as well.  The sun started to go down, bringing a tiny bit of blessed cool.  Time for a big fire and Fire Jenga!  Best not to ask details.  Sj came to help us eat after she finished work and ended up staying later than she thought.  After all day in the hot sun, I was ready for a shower and a night in my own bed and hitched a ride back home with her.  I used to love camping, but I think I've grown soft in my old age. 

Over all I think this event was a smashing success!  Thanks again to Mike for organizing and Tim for cooking his tail off.  Thanks to all the 14+ JAB members (and wives!) who showed up to help and hang out.  It was great getting to shoot the breeze with some old friends, and some new, in a very laid-back atmosphere.  I think we had 8 or 9 clubs represented, and want to see more for next year!  Now we just need another club to step up and organize it.

1 comment:

Al Boyce said...

Thanks for the mention Eric! The Master of Malt award went to my Black Currant mead, entered under Minnesota Home Brewers Association.

Thanks to Mike B and Tim R, for all their hard work! - Al