Homebrew competition a unique fair event

BLACKFOOT — It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. Judges Bob Beckwith, Matt Spann, Lisa Smith and Greg Smith of Idaho Falls were selected to be judges this year's 18th Annual Homebrew Competition at the Eastern Idaho State Fair swilling over 150 entries of homemade beer, wine and mead.
This year's home Homebrew Competion was sponsored for the first time by Wild Hops Homebrewers Club out of Idaho Falls, according to David Quattlebaum, the club's president.
"Being selected as a judge is no easy task," Quattlebaum emphasized "They [the judges] have to take an extensive test through the Beer Judge Certification Program; it's a very structured an organized process. They need to know how to recognize the different styles of brewery through taste, smell, color, clarity, and craftsmanship."
This year there was a separate competition for mead, an alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting a solution of fruit, honey and water; it is particularly popular in England.
"The fermenting is a very natural process that occurs," Quattlebaum explained. "It can be made with fruit or without fruit and is very sweet, kind of like a very sweet wine."
Quattlebaum went on to say that being a judge is not about getting drunk. "The judging is monitored very closely and they [the judges] are given very small amounts of each sample and there is food available to eat," he said. "In the event that anyone does become a little tipsy, of course, they are always given a ride home."
The 'Best of Show' winners from this year's Homebrew competition were Tom Clements of Idaho Falls with his Southern English Brown Brew, Ivor Clifford of Idaho Falls with his Belgian Dubbel brew and Dustin Reeder from Firth with his American Barley Wine.
Quattlebaum said that the White House beer recipe titled "Ale to the Chief" that was served to President Barack Obama has helped put the spotlight on home brews recently. "I thought that was kind of cool with the Democratic nomination going on."
"Those of us who do homebrewing in East Idaho are a tight-knit community," Quattlebaum added. "We take a lot of pride in it and we have a lot of fun."