Inaugural National Homebrew Contest Will Benefit Autism Charity, Bring Together America’s Best Home Brewers

Photo by Nomadic Lass.

Photo by Nomadic Lass.

Homebrew is about making beer for yourself and your friends. Well, and the homebrew group you joined a couple of years ago. Well, and for that big annual barbecue you have in your backyard. And maybe the state fair.

Oh yeah, and for the new Hop Courage Great American Homebrew Contest. Yep, a national homebrew competition. That’s like all the southern grandmothers getting together to compare biscuits. Except with really, really good beer involved, for a great cause, and there will be far fewer old ladies.

Sponsored by Rogue Ales and All About Beer Magazine, Hop Courage is a sanctioned competition that will benefit the Beer Autism Hope movement, which wrote about recently.

Basically, it’s like most homebrew competitions, but on a grand scale – participants will get feedback from top-tier national judges as well as a chance to win awards and prizes such as premium brewing equipment, cash, VIP brewery trips and more. And the coup de gras? The winner of the best in show grand prize wins a VIP trip for two to visit Rogue Ales in Oregon and brew the winning recipe with a Rogue brewer.

Of course, there’s plenty of coolness in the cause. The charity was inspired by Lance Rice, a beer historian with autism, who began a 30,000-mile brewery tour in the summer of 2013 to raise awareness for autism. His nephew Aaron has been his tour guide and is the one leading the charge to not only benefit the autism charity, but other charities within the brewing communities he and Lance visit.

“The mission of Hop Courage is to bring the beer community together to celebrate the bold creativity and benevolent spirit of craft beer in order to give back,” Aaron Rice said in a press release. “Brew good, do good.”

Chris Thomas, a Beer Autism Hope spokesman, when asked how the idea came about, responded, “As all great ideas do – it was over beers.”

Asked to extrapolate, he said the idea arose about eight months ago when the tour crew saw the potential to bring together the craft beer and home brewing communities in a unique and large scale way.

“We began discussions with Rogue roughly four months ago,” Thomas said, “and as an original Beer Autism Hope brewery supporter, they continued to be involved with our ongoing philanthropic efforts to support autism through beer.”

Thomas said All About Beer came on board a little over a month prior to the launch, “when we realized how powerful Hop Courage Great American Homebrew Contest could be. After learning what the competition was for and supporting, All About Beer came on right away.”

Home brewers can register online. The fee is $30 ($25 if you get there quickly) and there are dozens of categories, from Light American Lager to Strong Scotch Ale to Imperial IPA to Imperial IPA to Applewine. Basically, if you brew it, there’s probably a category for it. Judging will take place on March 21 in Los Angeles. The grand prize winner will be announced on National Beer Autism Hope Day, April 8, 2015.

Hop Courage is also looking for volunteers, be it judges, stewards or just people to help make this thing happen. Those interested in getting involved can also sign up online.

“We are proud to embrace our homebrewing roots while supporting a good cause,” Brett Joyce, president of Rogue Ales, said. “Our brewmaster of 25 years, John Maier, was named National Homebrewer of the Year in 1988 and we’re honored to continue our relationship with the homebrewing community by sponsoring the first Hop Courage homebrew competition.”

“We are very excited to be involved to support Hop Courage,” Christopher Rice, President and Publisher of All About Beer Magazine, said. “Having been involved with homebrew contests for a long time, we are very excited about supporting an event with a national focus and for such a worthwhile mission.”

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