November 15, 2011

Homebrew for Hunger Festival Recap

First of all, welcome to all new subscribers!  Glad to have you on board!

This past Saturday was the 1st Annual Homebrew for Hunger Festival and it was a blast! I really enjoyed sharing my beer, getting feedback, and talking to people about homebrewing in general. Best of all, the event raised close to $6,000 and collected about 200 pounds of food for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. That's enough for over 25,000 individual meals, or three meals a day for over 8,500 people dealing with hunger!
For me, the day started very early. I loaded up the car with a cooler and about 8 gallons of beer and hit the road around 7:30am. I made a stop in Richmond to pick up my brother, Stephen, who had agreed to help me out at the event. We arrived in Chapel Hill around 11:30am, which gave us a few minutes to ice the beer and get set up. All around the room homebrewers were getting their tables ready, some with simple descriptions of their beers, others with more elaborate displays, complete with very professional-looking stickers and business cards. Everyone was clearly excited for the event. Stephen and I sampled a few of the other homebrews before the doors opened and were impressed from the get-go. Among some of the beers we tried were a tripel, a couple coffee stouts, a beet beer, a strawberry basil blonde, and several others. There was even someone serving a pumpkin ale out of a pumpkin!

Around noon, the line started forming outside the event space, a long room, empty except for a bar, a stage, and today, several hundred beer-lovers, many of whom, I noticed, were sporting beards of one variety or another. Before long, the place was packed. Stephen and I spent the next five hours pouring samples of our beer and answering all sorts of questions about how they were made and how I got into homebrewing. The feedback in general ranged from good to very enthusiastic, though I found that the Oregano Hoptoberfest is the kind of beer you either really like or you really don't -- there's no sitting on the fence with that one. And that's ok. It's a bold, very unique brew. The Amarillo Pale and Chocolate Stout both got pretty good responses across the board.

Around 4pm the raffle prizes were announced, but people were having too much fun to pay much attention. There were a handful of people that may have over-indulged, but honestly, who could blame them?

As 5pm rolled around, I didn't want the event to end. We stuck around til about 5:30pm, mingling with the stragglers. Stephen and I eventually packed it in and got a quick dinner at the Carolina Brewery next door.

So what's next, you ask? Yesterday I bottled my German IPA and the Winter Spiced Ale, both of which I'm really looking forward to. Stay tuned -- I'll let you know how they come out in about two weeks!