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National Homebrew Competition Crowns a Female Winner

by The Drink Nation on Jul 1, 2013 in Beer
National Homebrew Competition Crowns a Female Winner

For the first time in more than 30 years, the best homebrewer in the US is a woman. The American Homebrewers Association just wrapped up its annual meeting, during which the National Homebrew Competition finals took place. Annie Johnson earned title of AHA Homebrewer of the Year for her Lite American Lager.

Just as unusual as a woman taking home the top prize is that it was for a lager, a style of beer that’s much more difficult to create than the usual homebrewed ales. And even more interesting is that the lager was billed as “Lite,” long a negative buzz term used when deriding Big Beer. The craft beer movement is changing with the times, and this proves that you no longer have to ramp up the ABV and IBU counts for your beer to win acclaim.

More than 2,150 homebrewers entered the AHA’s initial competition this year, and preliminary rounds were held at 11 regional sites around the country earlier this year. The top three entries in each of 28 style categories went on to the finals, and 894 beers were judged last week at the conference, held this year in Philadelphia.

Other top homebrewers this year were Tavish Sullivan, who won Cidermaker of the Year  and Mark Tanner, who garnered the Meadmaker of the Year nod. Pennsylvania’s David Barber won the Nikasi Award — given to the winningest homebrewer, in this case gold medals in both the Strong Ale and German Wheat and Rye Beer categories.

Homebrewing has taken off since an enforced lull after Prohibition. When Charie Papaizan and the nascent AHA held the first contest in Boulder, CO, in 1979, only 34 beers were entered. This spring, Alabama became the last state to legalize homebrewing, and the movement continues to grow. The American Homebrewers Association now has more than 37,000 members, who can join for as little as $38 per year. Find out more about AHA membership here.

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