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March 27, 2013

Competition to name best home brews

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — Home brewers from across the state will gather this spring and summer to prove, once and for all, who can brew the best beer around.

The fun will begin with one of the largest, single-day home brewing events in the country, Mills Big Brew Day, April 27 at the Rochester Mills Production Brewery in Auburn Hills.

Eric Briggeman, head brewer of Rochester Mills Production Brewery and president of the Michigan Brewer’s Guild, said the event was inspired by National Homebrew Day — an event celebrated by home brew clubs and supply stores all over the country and is always the first Saturday in May.

Last year, due to conflicts with other brewing conferences that weekend, Rochester Mills — in collaboration with The Pontiac Brewing Tribe, a local home brew club that meets monthly at Rochester Mills — decided to host its local home brew event a week earlier.

“By doing that, it allowed a lot more people, who typically would be busy with their own club or their own store on National Homebrew Day, to come to join us,” he said. “Last year, we ended up having 72 or 73 home brew systems set up in our parking lot at our new production facility, and we made over 550 gallons of beer — most people make 5-10 gallons at a time — which made us the largest single gathering of home brewers in the country on that day.”

Due to the success of moving the event up a week, organizers decided to continue hosting the Mills Big Brew Day a week before National Homebrew Day.

This year, Briggeman believes that more than 100 home brewers will join in the fun. Space is limited to the first 100 entries that pre-register through the company’s website, www.beercos.com.

“As of right now, we already have over 80 home brewers signed up, and we still have over a month to go,” he said.

This year, those who participate in Big Brew Day can also compete in the first Michigan Homebrew Competition and Big Brew Review June 1 for the chance to collaborate with the Mills’ head brewers on a recipe that will be brewed on the Rochester Mills Production system for distribution across Michigan.

Rochester Mills founder Mike Plesz said Rochester Mills has always been a big supporter of the home brewing community because the staff shares a love for the craft.

“Let’s face it — we basically started off as home brewers ourselves. This past year, we took our brewing to the next level by distributing our beers across the state, so it was only fitting that we kicked this event up a notch, as well,” he said in a statement.

Mills Big Brew Day participants and members of the public are invited to the production brewery during Michigan Homebrew Competition and Big Brew Review to sample competing beers, then vote for their favorite, which will receive the people’s choice award. A team of five or six people from Rochester Mills will ultimately decide which beer will be named the winner of the competition and will be brewed on the Rochester Mills Production system for distribution across the state, likely in July. Only beer brewed on site at the 2013 Mills Big Brew Day will be eligible to compete. There will also be public tours of the production brewery, a home brew equipment swap meet and a “breweriana” show featuring collector pieces from decades-old breweries.

For more information on the rules and guidelines for the event, visit http://tinyurl.com/rmbcbigbrewday.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.