Beer Events

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From attending the GABF and tasting the winners of the last two GABF Pro-Am and organizing the Puget Sound Pro-Am, here are my top ten tips to getting your beer brewed professionally!

1. Join the AHA today: Most of the brewers are looking for a beer that they can submit to the GABF Pro-Am and only AHA member beers are eligible for the competition.  Apart from all of the other great reasons to join the AHA, this is another membership benefit so join and use it!

2. Fill out the designated recipe sheet legibly with your AHA member number: Using the Puget Sound Pro-Am entry sheet complete with the recipe is required to be submitted to the brewers.  If you used the online registration, you still need to fill out the recipe sheet so the brewers will be able to know what is in your beer and if they can reasonably recreate it.  Also, if they can't read your ingredients, they will be less likely to believe they can brew it.  SO PLEASE, fill out the sheet legibly.

3. Think about the brewers' lines of beer: While the brewers are excited to try new brews, they also have to sell the beer after it is made.  They will be more likely to pick beers which complement their line, instead of compete with it. 

4. Think "realistically": The brewers need to believe that they can actually recreate the beer that they are enjoying.  Certain processes or ingredient additions can be done on a homebrewing scale that simply are not feasible on a production scale.  Adding in $20 of saffron in a 5 gallon batch may be fun for us, but is probably something that a normal brewery can not afford in a 10 barrel batch, no matter how good it tastes.

5. Brew "near" a style: While the Puget Sound Pro-Am will advance beers that may not be stylistically perfect but still incredibly tasty, the GABF Pro-Am competition does judge the beers to style (as a side note, they judge to a different set of guidelines than the BJCP guidelines).  So, you can brew a slightly deviant beer, but going too far will put it a bit off-style for the GABF competition. 

6. Think like the brewers: We've got a bunch of very different breweries participating in this event.  Some of them focus and excel in certain general styles.  They may be looking for another weapon in their arsenal, but maybe not too far off of their existing line.  Maybe they are themed around English, Belgian, or freaking hoppy beers.  So put yourself in your favorite brewer's shoes and ask, what would be the best addition to my line?  Take a look at the participating brewery websites and beer lists to get an idea of what each brewer likes to brew and take aim from there.

7. Brew creatively, but brew clean: It is great to brew something unique, but no matter what you brew, brew it well.  Off-flavors and defects can mask the beauty or complexity of some great beers.  Take the time to control your processes and your beer will have the best chance of ending up making it to the brewer's palate.  The judges will not be passing forward beers that will make the brewers gag.

8. Keep an extra few bottles around: Two reasons for this.  If your beer makes it to the BOS round and is tasted by a bunch of brewers we may run out before all possible brewers get a chance to taste it.  So, depending on how the competition goes and where you live, we may ask you to send out an extra bottle.  Also, if you do win, it may be great to sit down with the brewer and try your beer again before and after brewing to see how close you were able to come to the original.

9. Enter a crowd-pleaser: If you have a beer that all of your friends love to drink, the breweries may really want that beer as well.  Give it a shot, even if it isn't perfectly to style.  It'll sell and there is no better feeling that seeing people buy and enjoy your beer, trust me.

10. Balance it: Tasting the beers that have won the Pro-Am category at the GABF, I can say one thing for sure: they were all phenomenally balanced beers.  Aim for the most balanced beer that you can and it has the best chance of winning, in the Puget Sound Pro-Am and the GABF Pro-Am.