Somewhere amidst the beautiful, rolling hillsides of rural Missouri in between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington is a tiny community called Kaufman. Kaufman used to have a school house, but that school house is now a brewery. That brewery held a home brewer’s contest on Saturday afternoon from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Twenty-five home brewers from all over Missouri and Illinois competed in the contest. From Jackson to Crystal City; St. Charles to Perryville, small and larger towns from around the state were represented. And let me tell you, there are some men and women in Missouri who know how to pull great flavors out of this fermented libation.
I tend to veer towards richer, fuller-bodied beers. Jonathan Baker’s (Crystal City, Missouri) “Baker Fireside Ale”, for instance was a malty, buttery porter that made me take note, literally, on my tasting sheet. Donny Biggerstaff, a brewer from Fenton, Missouri offered a Belgian style ale that he calls the “Chocoran”. After my first sip of this one, a shocked “whoooaa” slipped from my lips. If you’ve ever thought of Missourians as simpletons, Donny’s “Chocoran” would change your mind. There was nothing simplistic about his ale.
From Wentzille, Missouri, Adam Kueller, Mark Matusiak and Jacob Daugherty introduced me to my first chocolate wheat beer. Though it wasn’t on their official contest tasting list, this one really impressed me. I’d never tasted a chocolate beer that wasn’t a stout or a porter. Their King’s Gross Stout was also notable for it’s absolute lack of aftertaste – something stout beers very rarely accomplish.
Naturally, I had to try Steve Albers’ Belgian ale called “Not Your Average Blonde”. My partner in crime and I were both taken aback by the power of this beer. My notes from the tasting read, “…a kick in the face.” I think those were my friend’s words, not mine, but it was an apt description nonetheless.
Travis Bickings from Oran, Missouri had a wonderful Chocolate Hazelnut Porter (7.2% alcohol content).
Although IPAs are traditionally fairly hoppy, Jacob Ellis and Justin Phelps brewed an “Imperial IPA” that went down easily. Their Belgian Salson ale was almost porter-like and a little bit sweet. It’s 1.9% alcohol content would certainly keep you warm on a cold winter night.
My three favorite brewer on Saturday were Rick Ernst, Travis Daugherty and Greg Camp.
Rick Ernst is from Valley Park, Missouri, and he had three beers in the contest; the Noble Doble (Belgian ale), the Vanilla Gorilla Expresso Porter and the Raztastic Porter. All three of these were amazing. The Raztastic had a fascinating flavor; its raspberries kept it sweet and fresh, and although it was undoubtedly dark, it wasn’t heavy like most porters tend to be.
Travis Daugherty of Bonne Terre, Missouri offered a Pine Ridge Porter, a Tripel Ten Belgian strong ale and a Red Dot IPA. The Tripel Ten was so named because Travis brewed the beer on 10/10/2010. The Pine Ridge Porter had a smokey, oak-filled flavor that cried out for a fireplace and a bear skin rug.
Finally, I have to give credit to the truly complex beers brewed by Greg Camp of Desloge, Missouri. While none of his beers was my personal favorite beer of the day, all four of his beers were wonderfully balanced and full. The beers he entered into the contest were the Double Rainbow IP, the Chat Pile Porter, Damn the Torpedoes (Belgian ale) and the 11% alcohol Thunder & Lightning (Belgian ale).
The Home Brewer’s Contest was a blast. I loved seeing what brewers were creating in towns across Missouri and Illinois, and I was entirely impressed by these last three brewers. I look forward to coming back to Crown Valley for the spring Home Brewer’s Contest.
To learn more about their events or for more information about Crown Valley Brewery, visit their website.