Pro-Am brewing partnerships 

Home brewing was legalized and the microbrew industry was spawned in 1979. In 2006, the Brewers Association and the American Brewers Association initiated the Pro-Am (Professional-Amateur) Great American Beer Festival competition “to celebrate the deep connections that have always existed between homebrewers and professional craft brewers.” Professional brewers choose an award-winning home brewer to partner with and in mid-September send the brew to Denver to be judged for gold, silver and bronze medals.

Hops are an issue

Caleb Staton at Upland in Bloomington is brewing the Bad Penny Imperial IPA with UpCup winner Ken Smith. “It has an awesome eye-opening bitterness and excellent hop aroma,” Staton reports. “The hardest part was cleaning up after 100 pounds of hops! The scaled up recipe from a five-gallon homebrew batch to a 20-barrel Upland batch required $2,700 worth of hops.”

Dave Colt at The Ram in downtown Indianapolis is again brewing with Michael Pearson, 2007 Indiana homebrewer of the year. “Well, what a difference a year makes. In light of the hops crisis, I gave Michael a list of hops I have and picked his Alt bier to brew with him. For me it’s being precise, scaling up from 10 gallons to 10 barrels. That’s 310 gallons. You can’t just multiply by 31. Each ingredient percentage is worked out. You tweak to make it come out precisely color-wise. My question about Pro-Am brewing is, ‘Why wouldn’t you?’”

At Barley Island in Noblesville, Jon Lang is brewing Mark Scheiss’ Belgian dark strong. “This is the first time we’ve used whole hops versus pelletized products — that’s the reason for the bags. Without being in bags it would make a big mess.”

But a bag broke. They couldn’t pump the beer through the chiller to the fermentation tank.

“It became an Apollo 13 type-save,” Scheiss reports. “Jon slowly pumped the wort to the mash tun and used its false bottom to filter out the hops as if they were grain.”

“This is my second Pro-Am. We brewed Greg Christmas’ Sinister Minister last year. It’s fun because you get to see somebody else’s perspective,” Lang summarizes.

At Brugge, Ted Miller is brewing Paul Edwards’ Rochefort 8 clone.

“Brewing on a large system is a lot of hot, sweaty, hard work, and I didn’t even have to clean out the mash tun or the boiler at the end of the day,” Edwards comments. “One has to have a passion to brew at that level.

“In the process you get to taste test. What are you looking for? What can you change or not change? Beer is essentially a living brew with a way of its own. When it’s done you get to toast the first pull.”

Two teams are staying local on tap

At Broad Ripple Brew Pub, Kevin Matalucci is brewing Aaron Evilsizer’s Russian Imperial Stout, 2008 Indiana State Fair Best of Show. “We always brew the State Fair winner,” Matalucci explains. “It’s a high alcohol, high gravity brew. As to when it’s served, it’ll be when he tastes it and says it’s ready, which may be the beginning of next year. To borrow a phrase, ‘Serve no beer before its time.’”

Jon Myers at Powerhouse Brewing Company in Columbus brewed Andy Greenlee’s pumpkin beer, winner of Columbus Area Classic Alers Homebrew Club 2007 competition. This December, Myers will brew the “single malt challenge” winner. “I believe it’s a new category,” Myers states. “We don’t know what it should taste like so it comes down to subjectivity of the three judges, something like the Iron Chef.”

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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