On arrival Saturday, everyone signed in and the last-minute scramble to fill holes in judging and stewarding took place. There were two rounds of judging, one in the morning and one in the afternoon with a break for organizing/lunch in the middle. I think the actual judging went great, with only minor hiccups considering the lack of access to printers, etc. Folks all got a cool red shirt ("Spock, please send yeoman Smith to investigate that new planet, I'm sure no harm will come to him...") to wear at the Fest. There were also some cool bottle-openers for all volunteers and a raffle for some cool prizes. I won a new Harriet Brewing shirt for Sj, accompanied by cries of "Rigged!"
Again each table was made up of at least one Recognized or higher BJCP judge with one or more judges. Most of the flights were a manageable size of 4-7 beers, with larger flights like Stouts and Belgians being split between two or three groups. I judged Scottish and Irish ales for breakfast: malty in the morning is much easier than sours or hoppy beers! Some pretty good beers in there. A lot of the entries were from newer brewers and this is a great contest to get some constructive feedback on. Also a great contest to get new judges to try their hand without the stress that comes with some of the bigger ones. The atmosphere is relaxed and upbeat, with more than a few distractions. I'll be honest the judging conditions are not ideal at this contest, but every one's beers are in the same boat, so it comes out even. Sometimes a smoker will enter the tent and be shooed off. Smells of turkey legs, unwashed Festie and the privies will occasionally waft across your nasal passages from time to time. This year it rained off an on on Saturday, which at least kept down the heat and the ever present dust storm. At one point there was a true downpour and a huge influx of dripping fest-goers shoe-horned into our humble tent for cover. Welcome to the days of High Adventure! Huzzah!
We had Todd brewing a batch of Renfest Lambic on his brew stand to appease the crowds, as well as to answer homebrewing questions. I think he did a great job of talking up the hobby and our clubs. We also had the MHBA fold-out homebrew displays, Midwest and Northern Brewer catalogues and pamphlets and stickers advertising Jack Of All Brews and MHBA.
Both days we had some commercial beers to serve our volunteers, in case they didn't get enough during the judging process. We had some growlers from Rock Bottom, some beers from our cellars, and on Sunday a keg of Harriet Wodan Weizen.
After the judging is over we packed everything up, loaded up the cars and headed home. On Sunday...Wash, rinse, repeat! That's right, load the truck up with Sunday's beers, pull out all the First Place winning beers from Friday and Saturday for the BOS round, and head out to the fest before 8 AM. Sunday went pretty much the same, just with less rain. After the last round we had pro-brewers Kris England and Mike Hoops, as well as Pete Rifakes and Joel Stitzel in for Best Of Show judging. Congrats to my JAB homies for winning a lot of bling!
The results of the competition are here: www.rennfestbeercup.com
The final award ceremony, prize giveaway, and announcement of Grand Prize will be held Sept 8 at Town Hall Brewery at 7PM with Mike Hoops present! I'll be there, will you?
All-in-all a fantastic but tiring time. Let's see you the reader help out with this next year! Huzzah!