Beer-Off: Judgement Day

At last! After nine hopeful weeks in the bottle, today our three judges were invited to a blind tasting of the Two Houses home brews.

Carefully hidden, Pip and I nervously poured out three beers each.  The glasses were labelled ‘Beer A’ and ‘Beer B’.  We fussed over their foamy heads and then watched as Dave carried the six glasses out and placed in front of the waiting judges.

After waiting a few respectable minutes, we came wandering outside and pretended that we were not surreptitiously watching their every move.

The blind tasting begins...
The blind tasting begins…

The first thing that struck me was the silence.  No one was spitting out the beer.  Or giggling.  Or treating it with anything but utter seriousness. Even Lozzie, my drinking buddy and partner in multiple crimes, of over ten years,  with whom I used to drink copious amounts of cheap crappy Chardonnay in our shared house, was talking earnestly about the mouthfeel of the beer…  She was nodding and murmuring with absolute authority and conviction, seated happily between the hop importer and the professional wine-maker.

The beers were given a score out of five in the following categories:

Overall impression

Yes mouthfeel is a thing.  I didn’t know that either.

Serious stuff...  these people know beer
Serious stuff… these people know beer

The identity of each beer was revealed only once the judges had reached the ‘marketing’ category.  I had been so confident about my label. Lovingly hand written and sneakily photocopied at work.  What could be more charming?  Um, a bespoke wooden six pack carrier, that’s what.  I’ll admit I had been worried that Pip might pull something designer-y but she’d been very quiet about it and now I know why!  As you can see… it’s quite a little number.  You’d buy that for someone special and they would love the absolute hell out of it.

The marketing category was blitzed by my sister.  I think I may have lost points for having my child on the label (insert awkward face here).  In my defence, G was mostly obscured by lettering and, come on, I wasn’t in any way trying to market beer to children!  I see now though that it’s a little bit strange to have your child on a beer bottle.  In hindsight it should have just a photo of  Glenn and I and then instead of being really quite odd, it would have been one of the most romantic things I’ve ever done.  

Dickson IPA and This House Brews – Pale Ale

As it stands, Glenn is very chuffed anyway, because ‘Beer B’ (mine) did take out the overall prize (woo hoo!).  But in all honesty it was so close.  The judges didn’t just score us.  They talked us through the merits and failings of both beers.  Apparently mine, being an IPA, was quite tasty and well developed for a kit beer but you wouldn’t want a lot of it as it was quite strong in flavour and better for having just a single glass of.  All three agreed that Pip’s Pale Ale struck them as being the one they would choose to drink a lot of and if  “scullability” had been a category she’d have scored highly there. But Nick also noted a hint of sugar in her beer which meant that perhaps it hadn’t quite reached its full potential.  Pip was stoked that after the tasting was complete, Nick actually finished his glass of her Pale Ale.  I’d like to point out that when you have small children and you have an opportunity to drink in the afternoon, you don’t finish a glass of just any old rubbish. Especially if your job perhaps revolves around the finer stuff.

I think the highlight for both of us was when Sandy said he was impressed that they were both kit beers and that for first timers we had done pretty damn well.  Go us!  ” The beer equivalent of making a packet cake,” said my husband before all this began. I think it’s a bit better than that!

Afterwards we plied our guests with the full beer snack menu of my Cheesy Biscuits and Beef Wellington Mini Pies and Pip’s Peking Duck Rolls alongside prawn tarts, another family favourite.  The new deck was christened while the kids were happily playing with trucks in a mountain of dirt and all in all it turned out to be a pretty good afternoon.

The snacks! Ducks Rolls, Cheesy Biscuits and prawn tarts.
The snacks! Ducks Rolls, Cheesy Biscuits and prawn tarts.

I don’t personally know any other female home brewers.  I’m sure they’re out there, they probably just don’t feel the need to blog about it.  But generally speaking, it does appear to be a very male dominated past-time and now I’m not really sure why.  I’ll definitely be giving it another crack sometime soon and would encourage anyone who was ever thinking about it to give it a go.  It’s not rocket science and you too could have the pleasure of slipping out to the shed and grabbing a bottle to pop in the fridge to have with tonight’s curry.

What could be nicer?

The Two Houses Families
The Two Houses Families

Photo credits: Kat Barrington Photography, Lex and Pip.