The last time a woman was named Homebrewer of the Year at the AHA National Homebrew Competition, Ronald Reagan was President, Toto won a Grammy and M.A.S.H. aired its final episode. Flash forward to 2013, and Annie Johnson has earned the Homebrewer of the Year award with her Lite American Lager at the 35th Annual National Homebrewers Conference presented by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA).
“Homebrewing is growing fast and attracting a more diverse following,” said Gary Glass, director of American Homebrewers Association. “I’m pleased see a woman win the Homebrewer of the Year Award, and it’s impressive that she did so in a lager category. Lagers are difficult to brew well, which shows how homebrewers are more technically proficient than ever before.”
More than 3,400 homebrewers and beer enthusiasts gathered this weekend at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, where they attended seminars, bonded over brews and had their beers judged in the world’s largest beer competition. Tavish Sullivan won the Cidermaker of the Year award with his Common Cider, and Mark Tanner won the Meadmaker of the Year award with his Strawberry, Rhubarb and Blackberry Mead. Local homebrewer David Barber won the Ninkasi Award as the winningist brewer in the competition. He won gold medals in the Strong Ale and German Wheat and Rye Beer categories; his homebrew club, Lehigh Valley Homebrewers, also won the Gambrinus Club Award.
The National Homebrew Competition recognizes the most outstanding homemade beer, mead and cider produced by homebrewers worldwide. This year, there were 7,756 entries from 2,187 homebrewers located in 49 states and the District of Columbia, U.S. Military APO, Puerto Rico, three Canadian Provinces and Belgium, entered in the first round of the competition.
The first round took place at 11 regional sites in the United States, with each sending on the top three entries from 28 style categories to the final round of competition at the National Homebrewers Conference, where 894 entries were evaluated by some of the top beer judges in the country. Over its 35-year history, the National Homebrew Competition has evaluated 103,075 brews. The first competition, held in 1979 in Boulder, Colo., judged 34 beers.
In addition to the competition, the conference provided attendees the opportunity to enhance their brewing skills through seminars such as “Yeast Culturing 101,” “Practical Malting” and “Alternative Wood Aging Techniques,” while increasing their homebrew knowledge through sessions such as “Beers of our Founding Fathers” and “Biochemistry and the Mash.”