The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) awarded more than 120 medals in 40 categories to amateur brewers and homebrew clubs worldwide at the 2021 National Homebrew Competition awards ceremony. Winners of the world’s largest homebrew competition were recognized for the most outstanding homemade beer, mead, and cider during a ceremony live stream.
Over its 43-year history, 156,830 brews have been evaluated since the inaugural AHA National Homebrew Competition in 1979 in Boulder, Colo. This year’s competition saw more than 5,045 entries from 2,037 home brewers located in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 13 countries.
The winners of the top five most-entered categories were:
Cat 26: Strong Belgian Ale (246 entries) GOLD: Daniel Kukuk, Grosse Point, Mich., Motor City Mashers SILVER: John Thompson, Encinitas, Calif. BRONZE: John Horton, Aurora, Colo., Aurora City Brew Club
Cat 3: Pilsner (199 entries) GOLD: Jeff Klatt, San Bruno, Calif., Worts of Wisdom Homebrewers SILVER: Rob Hardisty, Fort Collins, Colo., Liquid Poets BRONZE: Patrick Mousaw, Granger, Ind., Michiana Extract & Grain Association (MEGA)
Cat 5: Amber European Beer (185 entries) GOLD: Jon Serluco, Brooklyn, N.Y., Brewminaries SILVER: Matt Lennon, Redwood City, Calif., Bitches & Studs Brew Club BRONZE: Joe St. John, Los Angeles, Calif., Yeastside Brewers
Cat 19: New England IPA (191 entries) GOLD: Keith Linn, Rogers, Ark., Fayetteville Lovers of Pure Suds (F.L.O.P.S.) SILVER: Jason Lowery, Amherst, Ohio, Brewly Homebrew Club BRONZE: Paul Arends, Rockford, Mich., Brewsquitos Homebrewing Club
Cat 23: Imperial Porter & Stout (191 entries) GOLD: Mandy Naglich & Wesley Carmichael, New York, N.Y. SILVER: Zach Rice, West Des Moines, Iowa, Iowa Brewers Union (IBU) BRONZE: Ryan Stack, Saint Cloud, Minn., Cloudy Town Brewers
Besides category style awards, six major awards recognizing brewing excellence were presented.
Samuel Adams Ninkasi Award Recognizes the entrant who accumulates the most points in the final round of competition. Jason Lowery, Amherst, Ohio, Brewly Homebrew Club
Homebrewer of the Year Award Ben Amidon, Arlington, Mass.
Cidermaker of the Year Award Jeff Carlson, Grand Rapids, Mich., Primetime Brewers
Meadmaker of the Year Award Stephen Kilburn, Bonita, Calif.
Homebrew Club AwardAwarded to the club accumulating the most total points in all categories of beer, mead, and cider in the final round of competition. Diablo Order of Zymiracle Enthusiasts (DOZE), Walnut Creek, Calif.
Gambrinus Club AwardRecognizes the club garnering the most final round points per total club entries. Foam Rangers Homebrew Club, Houston, Texas
This year’s 43rd annual Homebrew Con concluded with the National Homebrew Competition (NHC), the world’s largest international amateur beer competition recognizing outstanding homebrewed beer, mead, and cider. Homebrew Con is a three-day conference where homebrewers and fermentation hobbyists celebrate the art of brewing beer, making cider, mead, and kombucha, and learning fermentation techniques. This year, Homebrew Con was held online and featured a keynote speaker, a virtual expo hall, meetups, and more than 30 live seminars with access to post-event recordings.
“Once again home brewers around the world continue to amaze judges with their quality and creativity across all categories,” said John Moorhead, AHA competition manager. “Congratulations to this year’s winners of the National Homebrew Competition for their mastery of fermentation.”
A complete list of winners of the 2021 National Homebrew Competition can be found here.
Each category will be spread out across many judge panels—think of each category as its own bracket. Each judging panel will check a flight of entries within a category. Each panel advances three entries to the next round until a final round of no more than 12 entries is present. The first round of judging includes two comment sheets for each entry. The next rounds do not include comment sheets.
The final round is judged by a panel of four judges who determine first, second, and third place within a category. First-place entries in each category will move on to the Best-of-Show round to determine the major awards for beer, mead, and cider.
Throughout the process, judges only see entries in sample cups, never in original containers. The entries are prepared in a staging room by trained volunteers to ensure quality control.
Judges are selected based on a combination of formal sensory training, experience judging in competitions, positive judging demeanor, advanced knowledge of beer styles and brewing process, and peer recognition.
The National Homebrew Competition recognizes brewing excellence in 40 NHC Tables of beer, cider, and mead. So many rounds of judging within a category to reach a final table of entries that are awarded first, second, and third place.
Gold medal – a world-class beer that exemplifies the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma, and appearance.
Silver medal – an excellent beer that may vary from style parameters while maintaining close adherence to the style and displaying excellent taste, aroma, and appearance.
Bronze medal – a fine example of the style that may vary from style parameters while still displaying quality taste, aroma, and appearance.