Friday, August 17, 2012

Carver County Fair

Every year the local county fair comes along, and with it come fattening foods, crowds and a homebrew competition?  Since I first moved to this neck of the woods, I have been visiting this fair and have grown to love it in a way that I do not love the bigger Minnesota State Fair.  I guess I like the fact that I recognize about a third of the people wandering the grounds rather than this being a vast sea of humanity.  Several years back I noticed wine bottles in the Agriculture building, and decided I would try putting some of my homemade wine in the following year.  When the next year arrived, I found a spot in the booklet allowing for homebrewed beer as well!  This was the first "competition" I ever put a beer in.  They asked for a whole 6-pack at that time, which seemed excessive, but I was willing to give it a try.  I picked six of my least favorite beer, (don't waste the good stuff!) and had my mom make a cool label for me.  I won!  Of course there was no other beer in the running that year, but I wasn't going to let that get me down.  I went on to enter several other real homebrew competitions and eventually became a beer judge.  Humble beginnings!

Over the last few years the beer section of the Fair has changed.  At our urging they moved it to one bottle instead of a sixer.  With the start of our Jack Of All Brews Homebrew Club in the area, we had more interest and brewing going on, so the category enlarged to include more types of beer.  At first they didn't quite get it, and we had categories such as: Ale; Lager; Octoberfest; German/Dark; Stout.  Each year it has changed and improved.  Last year I offered to reorganize the categories for them and they took my advice.  I suggested sorting into several areas such as Belgian, Stout/porter, light and dark lagers, light/hybrid ales, specialty, fruit.  Also they added a spot for mead in the wine section.  And then this year most of us completely forgot the fair!  I won several ribbons, but didn't have much competition.  Next year we will have to publicize some more! 

I'm not sure who judged this year, but there were some short notes on the back of the ribbons so someone was trying!  Based on the language used I think it was a wine person...they mentioned SO2.  The second year I put beer in this competition I was actually at the fair when they were judging and no one had a bottle opener.  I saw the ladies and one guy who were judging trying to use pliers and door hinges to open them!  Very funny, but abusive to foamy beer!  Collecting the beers at the end, all the caps were mangled and punctured like they had been through a garbage disposal.  Next year one of my friends taped an opener to one of his entries.

I love the fact that buried amongst the canned veggies and best local produce, there is now a chilled soda case for beer.  No longer does the beer sit in a hot barn for all week, quickly skunkifying.  I also like that there is no entry fee and ribbons are awarded along with a cash prize!  I took home $67 dollars in prize money for my 8 beers/meads this year!  I can make a couple of batches of beer with that money!  Thanks to Dave for gathering my ribbons and bottles for me Sunday night.

Now let's see how those beers do in State Fair!  I'm guessing I don't get cash money for any ribbons I get there...

Still have no idea what some of these ribbons mean...

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