Yes, I am late posting about this. I do apologize, I was in a rush to get things done before my vacation and left this post a little too late. However, it was a really good event and the first of its kind in the South Okanagan, so I wanted to make sure to give it some attention.
This event was the creation of CAMRA SO’s Home Brewing Liaison, Eike, our President, Kim, and Kari and Brent from Square One Hop Growers. Entry was limited to 10 brewers, but otherwise open to any brewer and any style category. It was held at Square One’s beautiful location on the Upper Bench, off the road to Naramata. Many of the hop bines were still hanging in the yard, giving it a very appropriate ambiance!
We were all a bit nervous the day of, as when holding an event for the first time there’s always concern that something may go wrong, or even worse, no one will show up! The brewers were all getting their tables ready when I got there. I had volunteered to serve for a friend of mine, Steve (who you may remember from my post on A Guy With A Shovel Hop Yards) who made an ESB fresh hopped with his own Centennial and Cascade hops.
Due to the damp weather, the brewers were setting up inside of the shop building (that was under construction when I interviewed Kari and Brent earlier this summer). It was a good thing the construction was finished, as it was nice to be out of the wind and rain. We were also sharing the space with racks and racks of drying hops, which lent an enticing aroma to the space. Wine Crush Market was also on site, serving the most amazing stuffed beer burger on spent grain buns – it was life altering! Their wood oven was set up outside, which also added to the aromatics of the farm! We were ready to go!
At first there was just a trickle of people coming through, some clearly recognizable from the local beer scene. Then more and more people started arriving, people I had never seen before. I started to wonder what was going on when one old fellow kept asking the different brewers about how beer was made, and was quite surprised to hear that it ferments in a process similar to making wine! Square One is located in the middle of Naramata’s winery belt, and so it seems a number of wine-tours had seen the cars parked outside and wandered in, thinking it was a winery event! Brent and Kari had also erected signs on the popular KVR trail beside their property, drawing in a number of curious neighbours and hikers.
There was an incredible amount of people, and great exposure both for the home brewers that were competing as well as for craft beer and homebrewing in general. Square One were great hosts and gave demonstrations of their hop harvester as well as tours of their hop farm. As well Shawn from Kelowna Brew Supply competed and brought some brewing equipment down to display and was able to answer questions about homebrewing ingredients and equipment.
I did get a chance to get outside of my booth and sample some of the competitor’s goods. I was so impressed, everyone had a beer that I absolutely would have had at least another glass of (if not several). The winners were all very deserving: Marc with his Chocolate Chip Cookie Ale took 1st, 2nd was Evan with his Area 34 Milk Brown 34C, and 3rd was Brad with his Slippery When Wet Hop Pale Ale (Brad’s dry hopped version was also very good!).
The success of this event was discussed at our last CAMRA SO meeting, and we’ve all agreed it will be held again on the 3rd Saturday of September next year. The main issue this year was that notice for the event was a bit short, so I’m hoping that if we can give brewers more advance notice next year we’ll have even more talented brewers participating!