High hops help win home-brewing contest

Champion home-brewer Brendan Bransgrove checks the quality of his award-winning Little Jimi Imperial Stout in the Dunedin shed where he produces his beers. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Champion home-brewer Brendan Bransgrove checks the quality of his award-winning Little Jimi Imperial Stout in the Dunedin shed where he produces his beers. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Brendan Bransgrove, of Dunedin, sent 13 bottles of his home-brew beer for judging at the Society of Beer Advocates' recent national home-brew competition in Hamilton, and came away a champion.

''You want to send the brew as fresh as possible because the hoppy intensity can fade away quick.''

He tried home-brewing for the first time in April, using two plastic 20-litre buckets in his back shed in Mornington.

The first five brews were ''catastrophic'', but now he produced quality beers like Little Jimi, a 10% imperial stout that was judged champion ale at the competition, Mr Bransgrove (31) said.

''It's highly hopped, with big body, but soft.''

The stout was named after a workmate at Emerson's Brewery, he said.

Now, the shed is starting to look like a microbrewery, with tool cabinets filling up with bottled beer.

When brewing, he puts down his first brew before going to work at 3.30am and begins the second brew when finishing work at noon, meaning he can be finished home-brew work by the time his wife, Lauren, returns from work at 5.30pm.

He was surprised he had any desire to home-brew, considering he worked at a commercial brewery.

''I thought home-brewing is an absolute waste of money and time, but you get ideas you can't do at work, like a 10% stout, that you can do at home and see what happens.''

The dozen judges at the competition critiqued the 381 beers entered, which included 72 different styles of beer, using international judging standards, such as colour, bitterness and aroma, he said.

For being judged the champion brewer, he won a 30-litre stainless-steel fermenter.


The awards
• Champion brewer
• Champion ale: Russian imperial stout.
• Best in class: American ale and stout.
• Gold medal: Russian imperial stout.
• Silver medal: American brown ale.
• Bronze medals: American pale ale, American amber ale, American Indian pale ale, American barleywine and fruit beer.


- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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