The past few weeks we have passed a few milestones at Stillfire as well as hosted a couple of wonderful events. Last week it was the debut of Legend Beer to benefit the Christopher Miles Foundation. This week we put on our first annual Oktoberfest complete with authentic German costumes, music, food, and of course BIER! Coincidentally, that Saturday was not only my Dad’s birthday but the anniversary of the first batch of beer brewed on our main 20 barrel system. To commemorate that milestone, we brewed another batch of that recipe, Why GA Rye, to have it on tap in time for the anniversary of our Grand Opening. We did a ton of brewing a year ago to go from Zero to Opening Day Hero in 20 days on Oct 16, 2019. Having missed the window for Oktoberfest in 2019, we overcompensated in 2020 by brewing a half dozen excellent classic German beers, twisting two of them as only Stillfire can, making the resulting new beer even better. It’s not showing off if you can do it.
I am getting on a plane to fly to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), something I’ve done for almost 20 straight years. 2020 is far from a normal year though. First off, there is no Festival for GABF. That was canceled months ago. Creature of habit Phil? Actually, I am flying out to Colorado to judge the GABF Beer Competition, the largest commercial beer competition in the world that is always held in conjunction with the festival. Instead of taking over the entire conference hall in a hotel adjacent to the Denver Convention Center (where the GABF is normally held) the GABF commercial beer contest will be held in the Brewer’s Association warehouse in Louisville, CO. The BA had to cancel the World Beer Cup in San Antonio back in April, so the 2020 GABF added numerous judge and staff health safeguards. The space of the warehouse was taken advantage of to spread the judges, staff, and tables apart. More importantly, instead of 275 Judges and 200 staff volunteers completing the judging of over 9000 entries in 6 sessions over 3 days, approximately 50 judges and 25 staff will be used over a 17 day period. After volunteer health, contest integrity and security are the most important directives of the contest. There are 93 different beer categories this year, and as a judge, I will only know the style of the category of the beer I am judging. There are no labels or containers to tip the judges off as to what breweries are participating. If I am judging 12 beers, all will be delivered in identical plain plastic cups with only a randomly generated number on the side to identify it. If that entry moves on to a subsequent round, a new number is assigned to ensure that a judge won’t be influenced by a previous round. Above all, judges are prevented from judging a category that they may have a conflict of interest due to a beer or brewery they are associated with is entered. Session results and discussions are limited to the participants at a table and not discussed once adjourned. Everyone wants to know if they or their friends won something, but only the people who deliver the beer know what was being judged. All the beer is kept in a separate room judges are not allowed to enter. You also won’t see anyone reporting live on Social Media either. I will find out the results like everyone else when the awards are announced at the live awards ceremony. That is all I have for now. BTW, this will be the first week in over a year that I will drink more beer than I make.