CHICAGO, IL (PRNewswire) – Pilsner Urquell, the world’s first golden beer, announced the winners of its 2011 Master Homebrewer competition at events held in New York City, Washington DC and Chicago last week. The homebrewers were tasked with re-creating the iconic Czech-style pilsner made famous by Josef Groll in 1842. Out of 125 competitors, only three were able to claim the title of Pilsner Urquell Master Homebrewer.
The winning homebrewers were: Philip Jensen of State College, PA, Aaron Hermes of Leesburg, VA and Jeff Lewis of Hilliard, OH. Each winner will travel to Plzen, Czech Republic later this year to tour the historic brewery and attend the International Master Bartender Competition in Prague.
“It was amazing to see the enthusiasm these homebrewers had for this competition,” said Vaclav Berka, Pilsner Urquell’s sixth brew master in the brand’s 169-year history. Along with a panel of experienced beer judges, Berka judged the homebrews at each event. “I can tell you that some of the homebrews were spot-on when it came to the Czech-style pilsner. This is not an easy style to recreate. These homebrewers are truly skilled at what they do, and it’s very exciting to see this community growing throughout the United States.”
The Master Homebrewer judging panel selected the top three at each event. Here are the final results:
|New York, August 8th||Washington DC, August 10th||Chicago, August 12th|
|Hospoda||Smith Commons||Marriott Downtown|
|1st Place—Philip Jensen: State College, PA||1st Place—Aaron Hermes, Leesburg, VA||1st Place—Jeff Lewis: Hilliard, OH|
|2nd Place—Michael Rego: Amherst, NH||2nd Place—Nathan Zeender, Washington, DC||2nd Place—Kyle Alberda: Fort Wayne, IN|
|3rd Place—William Pozniak: Cinnaminson, NJ||3rd Place—James Tweeddale, Fredricksburg, VA||3rd Place—Joe Rivest: Racine, WI|
The judges sampled each beer and selected the winners based on the following criteria:
- 70 percent — Accuracy to BJCP style (Czech-style pilsner)
- 15 percent — Cleanliness (absence of off flavors)
- 15 percent — Artistic impression
“Since 1978, when the homebrewing bill was signed, there has been a steady, growing interest in homebrewing in the United States,” said New York event judge Samuel Merritt, Certified Cicerone and president of Civilization of Beer Inc. “The American Homebrewers Association estimates that some 750,000 homebrewers brew beer at least once a year in the US and, having tasted these Czech-style Pilsner homebrews in New York, there are many people doing it quite well.”
The Pilsner Urquell Master Homebrewer competitors were equally excited about the competition.
“It was truly a thrill to have the brew master of Pilsner Urquell taste my beer and an even bigger thrill to have him proclaim it as the best of the New York competition,” said Philip Jensen, New York Master Homebrewer. “The fellow brewers were great, the venue was great, but the beer was best of all. I started exploring beer making in the mid 1980s and over the years, I’ve been able to brew good lagers, but struggled with Czech-style lagers until recently. Winning the Pilsner Urquell Master Homebrewer contest is an honor. I can now say with confidence I CAN brew a Czech-style pilsner, one of the most difficult styles in the world.”
Washington DC winner Aaron Hermes was equally thrilled with his victory.
“As a homebrewer, I’ve always found it incredibly challenging to recreate the subtle complexity of a Czech-style Pilsner,” Hermes said. “It was an honor to have my interpretation of the style judged by none other than Vaclav Berka, the brew master of Pilsner Urquell. I’m tremendously flattered to have been selected as a winner in the Master Homebrewer competition. As an added bonus, I’m hoping this will also give me some measure of credibility with my Czech in-laws!”
Chicago winner Jeff Lewis may have summed it up best when he said, “I’m speechless.”