The VSA Annex was temporarily transformed into a tasting room yesterday for the biannual VSA Brew Off. Seven teams of brewers (ranging from teams of one to eight, all vying for a $100 gift card and eternal bragging rights) poured samples of their home-brews to about 50 attendees. The beers were judged on taste and label design, both by VSAers and special guest judge, brewing guru Randy Mosher.
The presence of Mosher—who has been home-brewing since the 1980s, has written five books on the subject and has designed beer and wine labels for a number of companies—heightened the excitement in the room. After everyone consumed just enough beverages to make a sound judgment call, the winners were crowned: Scott Theisen for the taste of his Mosaic Mash American pale ale (praised by Mosher for its simplicity and how well the new-to-market Mosaic hops shined through) and Britta Hernalsteen, whose Swift oatmeal stout label had an appealing hand-drawn quality to to it.
“A big part of the fun is seeing the names and the labels that people design,” says Tony Mingo, who was among the three VSAers who started the event in 2011. His beer was the Skywalker IPA.
It can take five hours to craft a brew, and a month or two for it to ferment (not to mention the time that goes into coming up with a name and label), so lots of hard work went into this challenge. Cheers to the winners and the rest of the participants: Jorge Hinojosa, Sierra Swanson, Elaine Palutsis, Tony Mingo, Jimi Geiyer, John Arcadi, Jess Dillard and Carolyn Frazier.