GTA Brews went to HomebrewCon 2018!

HomebrewCon is wrapped up for another year, and this year marked our best year ever for club attendance! In attendance we had: Zack, Eric, Rebecca, Matti, Sara, Jesse, Sasha, Jim, Laila, Kathy, Victor, and Fred!

GTA Brews group photo at Club Night

Next year will be in Providence, RI (Rhode Island)! We're already planning our drive down there so we can pour draft beer at club night!

In you haven't seen it, you should check out Matti's post on the Silly Sir Blog. 2018 was Sara and his first time attending, and their post explains all the reasons they'll be back in 2019!

Zack, Matti, Sara, Rebecca, and Eric at Brulosophy Karaoke

It's hard to adequately express the magnitude of this Homebrew event, so instead I'll list my personal top 5 highlights.

1) The Community

This year was my fourth conference, and I still hang out with friends I met at my first conference back in 2015 (San Diego)! Over the years I've met more people that I look forward seeing again each year. HBC is also your chance to meet your homebrew heroes like John Palmer, Charlie Papazian, and many other authors and personalities that taught you how to brew.

If you listen to Brulosophy or Basic Brewing, you'll know they always say the best part of HBC is the people. There is a lot of truth in this!

2) NHC Final Round

The National Homebrew Competition (NHC) is the largest homebrew competition in the world, with over 3,500 entrants, over 8,400 entries, and hundreds of BJCP judges! The Final Round of this competition is judged on the Thursday of the conference. It's quite a sight to see hundreds of BJCP Certified (or above) judges in one room at 8 AM judging the finest homebrew in the world.

I have had privilege of judging this competition three times now, and it's THE BEST learning experience you can have as a judge. The odds of being paired with a Grandmaster judge is very high, and this year I got to judge some tasty Traditional Meads. Sadly a few of our judges didn't get selected to judge this year, so sign up early to avoid disappointment!

I even got to judge this crazy Specialty Beer. It was surprisingly amazing!

3) Club Night

The best night of the year! The first time you walk into the hall with dozens of homebrew clubs set up and pouring your jaw will hit the floor. Club night is likely where you will find the best beer of the conference, since most clubs bring their A game. The booth decorations are always something to behold, with many clubs constructing elaborate and impressive designs.

This year the VanBrewers club took the lead in organizing a Great White North booth and invited all other clubs in Canada to serve their beer at it. I brought 8x 500mL bottles and poured from behind the table for a while. Participants from past events where we have served club beers (Cask Days, People's Pint) know how much fun it is to serve your own beer, but this is on another level. If you are lucky your homebrew idol will try your beer!

4) Explore a new city

HomebrewCon is a great excuse to visit and explore a city you may not have otherwise had the opportunity to explore. This year in Portland, we got to visit some amazing breweries. My highlights were: Cascade, Hair of the Dog, Wayfinder, Great Notion, and Ex Novo.

Ninja photo of Sam, Zack, and Rebecca at Ex Novo Brewing Co.

Next year's city (Providence, RI) is near Boston and other New England breweries, so there will be plenty of tasty NEIPA to go around!

5) Seminars

HomebrewCon is an amazing opportunity to learn; this year had 66 seminars available! Take a look at that list and you'll see there is endless learning to be had. Luckily the AHA records and uploads them all to their website.

It’s a Sprint: Brewing Beer Faster with Chino Brews, Marshall Schott (Brulosophy), and Matt Del Fiacco (Brulosophy)

I usually attend the club/competition and brewing science ones, but there are lots of other types available like Beer Styles, Recipe Formulation, Going Pro, Industry Only, Sensory, Ingredients, and lots more!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my HBC 2018, and I hope you feel compelled to join us next year!

Here's a few more memories I didn't fit in above:

Victor, Sam, Peter, Jesse, and Eric at the Keynote Speech.
Zack and Eric hatched a competition bet while drinking tasty Helles at Wayfinder
100+ beers being poured at the Milk The Funk Meet Up!
Impressive Club Night booth by the Oregon Brew Crew. Themed after the Oregon Trail video game
Zack and Eric at the Homebrew Con Kick Off Party at Culmination Brewing
Rebecca and Eric snuck into the VanBrewers group photo at the Great White North booth that they coordinated