Brewmaster

Brian Kenyon (right) and John Brinsfield prepare to sample the first entry in the Intra Club Beer Competition sponsored by Lincolnton Homebrewers' Association and BrickTree Brewing Co. was held on Sunday at Untapped Territory in Lincolnton.

A new beer brewing community is being fostered in downtown Lincolnton. The first Intra Club Beer Competition sponsored by the Lincolnton Homebrewers’ Association and BrickTree Brewing Co. was held on Sunday at Untapped Territory in Lincolnton. One of the judges for the day was Brian Kenyon, owner of Untapped, and another was John Brinsfield, co-owner of the soon-to-be-opened BrickTree.

The Lincolnton Homebrewers’ Association was started approximately five years ago by Jacob Rhodes, Scott Moore and Bryan Severns. They used to meet at Fausto Coffee. Then the club became inactive for a few years. Not long after Untapped opened, the club was revived.

“This is our first competition,” Rhodes said. “We’re judging a Kölsch beer, which is a light German ale.”

As the competition got started on the back patio at Untapped, competitors arrived carrying coolers containing bottles of their home brews. After the bottles were labeled with a number, the judges, some, like Kenyon and Brisfield were experienced tasters, but others were just getting started.

A Kölsch beer should have very low to no Pilsner malt aroma. It should have a pleasant, subtle fruit aroma from fermentation. The beer should be pale gold to light color in color and be filtered to a brilliant clarity. It should have a delicate white head that may not persist.

“There’s a lot of local people who are into craft beers, not just the commercial varieties, they brew their own,” said Kenyon as he held a glass of beer up to the light. “It’s interesting to try other people’s beers and see what they’re like.”

As they judged the beer, the judges marked down points for categories such as aroma, appearance and flavor.

“With this type of competition, you’re judging it based on a style,” Rhodes said. “You’re trying to see how closely this beer that somebody brewed matches with the Kölsch style.”

One of the competitors, Mike Johnson, who is from Crouse, started brewing six years ago. This was his first competition. He started brewing because he liked “Old Copper” beer, which is out of Old Mecklenburg Brewery.

“My whole idea was that I wanted to brew this type of beer,” he said. “After that, my palate expanded so I decided that I wanted to brew IPAs and sweet stouts and other kinds of brews. A lot of the reason why I do it is because I like other people to enjoy the beer. I’m becoming a fan of sweet stouts. It wasn’t my favorite but I’ve brewed the heck out of it for the last several months.”

As he tasted the first entry in the competition, Brinsfield said that it had a good aroma and he was getting some “fruity ester and maltiness out of it.”

“It’s very clear, it’s almost crystal clear, which is good,” he said. “There’s minimal head but good lacing.”

These brews don’t happen overnight. They often take several months to be ready to drink.

After the judges finished their work, the different beers were made available for the public to taste test later in the afternoon. 

The Lincolnton Homebrewers' Association meets at Untapped Territory on the third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. In addition to club meetings and competitions, they also have occasional brew days where they’ll get together and brew beer. For more information, visit the Lincolnton Homebrewers' Association Facebook page.

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