Monday, September 13th, 2021

Home brew contest added to Oktoberfest agenda

By Erin Gardner

From left are members of the Minster Brewing Association, A.J. Huelsmans, John T. . .

MINSTER - Oktoberfest celebrations around the world are synonymous with beer, so Minster Oktoberfest officials felt it was only natural to add a home beer brewing contest to the event Oct. 1-3.
"It's a local home brew competition. Anybody who brews beers themselves and wants to enter it in the competition, they can," said committee member Austin Tebbe.
  A panel of judges, all local brewmasters themselves, will rate the beers. The panel includes Nick Moeller, owner and brewmaster at Moeller Brew Barn, Maria Stein; Tyler Buehler and Justin Bergman, co-owners and brewmasters at Endless Pint Brewing, Versailles; James Gilberg, owner and brewmaster at Gongoozlers Brewery, New Bremen; and Jack Waite, owner and brewmaster at Tailspin Brewing Company, Coldwater.
The panel will judge the beers in four categories: light, dark, hoppy and Oktoberfest. The categories determine how the beer is brewed. The Oktoberfest category is a nod to the event as a whole.
"Since this is Minster Oktoberfest and a lot of us are from Minster and we enjoy the idea up Oktoberfest quite a bit, we wanted to make it focused on our event," Tebbe said of the Oktoberfest category. "It's the special category, it's Minster Oktoberfest. It's a lager, so it's smoother but it is kind of dark. It's dark, smooth and malty. Malt is the focus of the style."
Tebbe recommends pairing a salted pretzel, a brat or sauerkraut with an Oktoberfest beer.
There are no cash prizes. Instead, all entrants will get tasting notes from the judges and a t-shirt. Each category winner and a best of show winner will get plaques, he said.
Tebbe believes the public doesn't realize how many people home brew.
"I think it's fairly popular," he said. "It's kind of a hidden hobby, honestly. I think if you were to go around and ask people, you'd probably be surprised how many people have at least tried it once or twice."
Committee member Mitchel Poeppelman, agreed.
"Since since we've started, I've learned of a lot of people who home brew," Poeppelman added.
Others on the four-person committee include John Tebbe and Christian Boehnlien. They have been brewing since college, about nine years.
Although home brew competitions aren't a new thing, Austin Tebbe thinks there are a lot of local brewers in the area. The committee wanted to bring these like-minded people together to "have fun, talk beer and drink beer," he said.
"Brewing beer is a social hobby," Austin Tebbe said. He hopes to bring together "all the local home brewers that maybe don't brew with a whole lot of people," he said. "We have a group here, the Minster Home Brewing Association, but not all towns have a little home brew club like this."
The Minster association has 14 members.
The beer brewing process is tedious. According to Austin Tebbe, a brewer starts with a base consisting of water and grains. The brewer mills (crushes) the grains and then soaks them in hot water to create a mash. The brewer holds the mash mixture at a certain temperature for an hour, which releases the sugars from the grains. The brewer boils the beer for an hour and then adds the hops, using different varieties and amounts depending on the style and the recipe. IPA, for example, requires a lot of hops. After the boil, the brewer cools the mixture and adds yeast. This eats the sugar and makes it alcohol. The brewer then ferments the mixture for several weeks. After that, it's packaged into bottles or kegs and then carbonated.
The committee hopes to make the event part of Oktoberfest.
"We have some good interest from home brewers outside of our group already and I think if we can make this an annual thing, it will really grow," Austin Tebbe said.
The awards ceremony will be held about 3 p.m. Oct. 2 (Saturday), between the beer tray relay and jug hoist.
The entry fee is $20 and each participant can enter up to two beers. Those interested should email minsterbrewingassociation@gmail.com with their name, contact information, beer style, the suggested judging category and their t-shirt size. Entrants also should provide two unmarked bottles per entry and rubber band a paper note around the bottle with the brewer's name and beer style. The bottles need to be delivered to 61 S. Frankfort St., Minster by Sept. 18.
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