The Atlantic City beer festival opens on Friday, and amid the tide of beers from 75 breweries at the sixth edition of the Celebration of the Suds, this beer should stand out: the Belgian tripel brewed at the Tun Tavern by homebrewers Vince Masciandaro and Evan Fritz, under the guidance of the Tun's brewer, Tim Kelly.
Vince and Evan's beer paced ahead of 19 other brews to claim victory in the Tun's first homebrewer contest. Top prize was the opportunity to scale up their recipe and brew a commercial batch for the Tun's taps and for the Friday and Saturday crowds at the AC beer fest. (The beer will be taphandled At The Shore Belgian Ale because of a tie-in with The Press of Atlantic City newspaper and its entertainment guide, At The Shore.)
The pleasure Vince and Evan got from playing pro brewer for a day should be all yours. The beer they brewed will have no equal at the festival. It's imminently fresh – brewed in early March, racked over this week for serving. It exists because of the festival – brewed specifically for the event. And Vince and Evan rose to the challenge of brewing on an exponential scale.
Talk to Vince about his beers and he'll tell you that he's his own toughest critic. A minor errant flavor you forgive because you've tasted it in store-bought brews is a rough spot that Vince wishes he had or plans to file down. A flaw is still a flaw to this Marlton guy, and that's that. And that's why his beers have that certain above-and-beyond effort that gives them a fine finish.
For Evan, homebrewing isn't about shaving some pennies off the cost keeping the fridge stocked. Hardly. Brewing's an intriguing science to him, a challenge, and re-creating the best beers he finds on the store shelves is equal parts holy grail and the proverbial practice that makes perfect.
He brews practically every Friday afternoon at his home in Williamstown (he'd love to do it daily as a professional), with the same goal Vince has: to make a great beer.
And that's what they did for the festival.