Iron Brewer: twiddling my thumbs

Addendum to yesterday’s post: Elaine pointed out that I gave the impression I am only working at Niagara College over the summer. I’ll actually be there for a year.

In addition to finding a job (yay!), I also took the time to enter the Iron Brewer competition. This is a fun annual event for members of the Master Brewers of Canada, if your idea of fun is to make a beer and then watch while it is publicly judged and scored by your peers.

I’m sure you’ve seeen or heard of TV’s Iron Chef — two top chefs go head-to-head preparing a four-course dinner in a limited time using only provided ingredients. The Iron Brewer competition works roughly the same way: 15 brewers are each given an identical bag of brewing ingredients — various grains, hops, yeast, etc. — and must make a batch of beer using only some or all of those ingredients in the bag.

Which ingredients, how much of each and what sort of brewing regimen each brewer uses is, of course, the big question.

Each brewer then has to bring at least 10 litres of the finished beer to a judging night hosted by a local brewery. Other MBAC members then taste and score all 15 beers, and the brewer with the high score is crowned Iron Brewer.

Of course there are usually way more that 15 applications, so names are drawn out of a hat for the chance to compete. (This year there are actually only 11 spots open. The organizers decided that last year’s top three brewers get an automatic berth this year; likewise, the host brewery also gets a spot, just like the nation hosting the World Cup soccer tournament gains an automatic berth.)

I decided to enter the competition this year. Why? Well, like I said previously, it sounds like fun. It’s a chance to use some of the recipe formulation calculations we learned in school. And it’s also a chance to show the new students entering the Brewmaster program, or those who are about to enter second year that they have been (or will be) taught the skills necessary to compete at this level.

If I am one of the lucky ones, the bag of ingredients will be delivered at the end of July, I’ll brew up a beer in August, and the judging night will be near the end of September.

But until the names of competitors are announced, I’ll just sit here, twiddling my thumbs… And I might as well have a beer while I’m waiting, right?

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