I’ve attended GABF a number of times in different capacities. First as a member of the American Homebrewer’s Association Governing Committee. Another time as a Pro/Am entrant. Later I attended as an
author, to sign books for Brewer’s Publications. Other times I’ve attended as a judge. This year I attended not only as a judge/author/governing committee member, but also as a brewer/owner pouring beer at the festival.
The 2011 GABF was a different experience for me, because I felt like I had more at stake than ever before. I still enjoyed the judging and book signings, but I was really looking forward to meeting people at our booth as they tasted our beers. How our beer is presented and how it is received is important for me. Wherever our beer is poured, I want sparkling clean glassware, proper sized pours with the right amount of head. Things like carbonation should be spot on. Don’t even get me started on something like flavor or aroma.
While I felt that our very first two batches of beer served at the homebrewer’s conference in San Diego were quite good, they needed a little more time before serving. At GABF, I felt our beers were all in
excellent form. While I’m a perfectionist and I can always find things to tweak in almost every beer, I was quite proud. The comments were all positive and I really loved meeting all of the passionate beer lovers. Luckily we had some great volunteers helping with our booth, which gave us more time to speak with
people. I spent almost all of my time at our booth, with only a little time spent visiting a few friends and trying their beers.
If I knew a person was a homebrewer, I would try to ask them about their beer. What was it they loved to brew? What was it that they were excited about? I think that is the great thing about meeting with homebrewers, they almost always have a beer they are working on that they are passionate about. When I made the move into professional brewing, I worried that I might get bogged down in the day to day work of producing the same beers time and time again for consumption. So far there is little danger of that. We’re still very young. There is still a lot to think about to try and get every beer to be flawless, especially for my perfectionist bent, but there is still lots of room for new beers and creativity. I just bought some fantastic wine barrels for a sour beer that I have in mind. As I work on it, I think about all those folks at GABF and I think about how I want to make sure that this is another beer I will be proud to serve at the next GABF.