In July of 2016, we were fortunate to bring on Kevin Pratt as our General Manager. Don't tell anyone, but we were pretty much winging it until Kevin came along. He has a lot of experience in all the areas we were lacking, and now I can say that our books are pristine, our spreadsheets are numerous, and our future is bright!
Besides these skills, Kevin is also an experienced brewer, was one of the first to go through the extensive Cicerone program, and is a Grand Master V Beer Judge. Does that sound fancy? It is! There are only five beer judges who have reached that level of certification. So it's no wonder that Kevin frequently gets invited to judge beer competitions, and recently he had the chance to go to Alaska for The Great Alaskan Barleywine Fest.
Here's his report from the trip:
"The Great Alaskan Barleywine Fest is part of Alaska Beer Week. It's a two day tasting event featuring breweries from around the US that features both barleywines and winter seasonal beers. This was my second time participating. In addition to the festival, I get a chance to visit the local breweries (there are many) and see much of the town's community art. Art is everywhere in Anchorage. The winter ice sculptures are my favorites because they are lit to be seen in the twilight sun of Alaska's winter.
I was invited by the Alaskan Beer Week Committee and Jason Ditsworth, the judge coordinator. As a high ranking beer judge, I get invitations to many national events. Any events I can attend are done at my cost because there is no pay for being a beer judge, other than drinking great (and sometimes not-so great) beer. Obviously, I can't accept them all, but I especially love the events with a sense of adventure or international scope.
My role is as one of the 5 Best of Show Judges. We get the 8 to 12 barleywines that make it through the first two rounds. They are always excellent and finding a winner comes down to nuance.
The Best of Show Barleywine was from Kassiks Brewery in Northern Kenai, Alaska. The won with their Barrel Aged Buffalo Head. These guys deserve real props because they also won the Winter Warmer Best of Show, something truly rare in this competition."
Since we're talking about beer competitions, we recently hosted our near and dear Maltose Falcons Homebrew Club for their annual Doug King Memorial Homebrew Competition. This is a great group, based in Woodland Hills. If you'd like to try your hand at brewing beer, it is an excellent club to join. There are other excellent local clubs as well, many of them listed on the winners page.