Time to close a chapter: This video is from the release party held back in November for the coffee stout brewed at Iron Hill by homebrewers Scott Davi and Jim Carruthers as part of the Maple Shade pub-brewery's Iron Brewer competition.
And in this installment of the saga, we get to the bottom of how Scott and Jim's IH-brewed beer came to be called Luca Brasi, after the outsized thug Don Vito Corleone would dispatch to convince someone the offer on the table was indeed one that couldn't be refused.
Looking beyond this moment, though, pro-am brewing ventures are widening in the craft beer world. Boston Beer and its Samuel Adams brand, of course, sponsor the well-known LongShot homebrewer contest in which two winners at-large nationally plus a company winner see their beers brewed for the annual LongShot six-pack. (Dave Pobutkiewicz of Morris County, at left with Boston Beer's Jim Koch, was a LongShot finalist three years ago.)
The Colorado-based Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association have been at the pro-am thing going on four years now, tying it to the Great American Beer Festival.
Here in New Jersey, High Point Brewing has sponsored homebrewer competitions with the Office Beer Bar & Grill, with winners producing their scaled-up recipes at the Butler brewery, and the finished product going on tap at Office locations.
River Horse Brewing in Lambertville toyed with the idea of sponsoring a competition a couple of years ago, but opted against it. Meanwhile, the Tun Tavern in Atlantic City has something in the works for a pro-am beer to be served at the Atlantic City Beer Festival next spring. (Last winter, the Tun welcomed an editor from The Press of Atlantic City newspaper to help brew a dunkelweizen that was served at the Celebration of the Suds, as the AC fest is known.)
But in the Garden State, it has been the New Jersey State Fair and Krogh's brewpub in Sparta that are the old hands at homebrewer contests in which the winner brewers on the small, but still pro-level equipment at Krogh's to make a beer for the brewpub's taps. In fact, just such a State Fair championship launched the beer career of Brian Boak, whose Belgian brews and imperial stouts are contract-brewed by High Point.
Hordes of pro brewers got their start as homebrewers (nearly all of Jersey's craft brewers can make that claim). Homebrewer contests celebrate that lineage and make the bond tighter.