Sunday, July 14, 2013

Recap of Big Brew Day at the Calder Plaza

Written by  Dan VanderKooi
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Recap of Big Brew at the Calder Plaza

Homebrew Day has been designated on May 7th as a national holiday since 1988. The AHA (American Homebrewers Association) has selected 1st Saturday in May of each year to celebrate with a series “Big Brew” homebrew events throughout the U.S. This year, local homebrew and specialty store Siciliano’s Market stepped up to the plate and sponsored one in the Grand Rapids area. The event was held at downtown’s Calder Plaza, a very public location in close proximity to the City, County, and Federal buildings.
This year, the Grand Rapids’ Big Brew was one of over 300 locations holding the event all over the U.S. The Calder featured 48 teams all brewing the same base recipe, a “Beer City IPA.” Siciliano’s Market provided ingredients and chilling stations for the teams. The event began bright and early, and public participation was encouraged with wristbands available so as to sample the many homebrews available during the brew sessions. Food vendors included the popular What the Truck. Additionally, Mayor George Heartwell made an appearance as well as was featured for a special toasting of the event in the afternoon. Next year, in addition to the annual Big Brew event, the AHA will be having their convention at the downtown DeVos Place Convention center in June of 2014.

Siciliano’s topped it all off the following weekend with their 10th annual sold-out Homebrew Party and guest author Stan Hieronymus was on hand to autograph books and mingle with the crowd. Stan is known for both being the editor of Realbeer.com and co-author of essential brewing guides like Brew like a Monk. He also presented on May 10th for Siciliano’s own Homebrew Seminars at Johnson Park on Friday May 10th prior to the party. There were 229 entries in this year’s competition with 9 being judged Best of Show worthy. This year’s coveted Siciliano Cup was awarded to Cass River Homebrew Club’s Michael Carr for his American IPA, along with the $500 prize and an upcoming opportunity to brew his award-winning recipe at Perrin Brewing Company later this year. Congratulations, Michael!

Photos provided by Charity Garris

Dan VanderKooi

Dan VanderKooi

Dan VK has been following the Michigan Craft Beer scene since before Oberon has been available in 6-packs. Besides making the rounds at all the local craft breweries and beer bars, Dan also supports the local music scene, reads crime fiction, and enjoys playing volleyball with his wife and friends.