The fist week of May had some really oddball weather in Blue Lake. It was bi-polar from day to day. But Saturday it was absolutely perfect weather. The beer gods smiled upon us. May 5th wasn’t just Cinco De Mayo, it was National Homebrew Day and there was a celebration to be had in the form of Big Brew. 6 hearty souls producing four beers and 35 gallons hauled their gear to Mad River Brewing Company and set up their breweries next to the beer garden. These were some of the members of the Humboldt Homebrewers; a rag tag group of zymurgists from all walks of life. Three rules were employed at the start of the Humboldt Homebrewers, and are still used today:
- No discussion of politics or religion.
- Pay beer karma forward.
- Always respect other brewers, regardless of skill level. Everyone has something to teach and learn.
Pete rocked the Coleman for his signature ginger beer, John and Stephen made yet another…brown ale (c’mon, expand guys!), the Humboldt Beer Terroirists made an explosive effort in their saison on the “Ring of Fire” 3-tiered system, and yours truly made a Belgian pale ale. Hot water and cool tunes were graciously provided by the brewery and tap room.
This year saw half the brews of 2011 but gained much more public interest. All day, folks entered the beer garden, walked straight through to the exit on the other side, and made their way to the festivities. They first stopped by the informational table featuring 11 grains to sample, took a beginners informational magazine and observed the equipment starter kit that would be required to brew their own beer. One by one, they made their way down the different breweries, snacked on chips and BBQ, sipped their Mad River beer, asked about a thousand questions and saw the many steps of brewing a beer.
The day wound down with chilling wort and filling carboys and your author, who up to this point was being responsible with the occasional Steelhead XP, finished the day with an “Old School”, which is a Shaun Cordes blend of 3/4 Jamaica Red and 1/4 DIPA.
I regrettably rushed out of the Peaceable Hamlet of Blue Lake to get back to the shop before closing. I could slowly feel my sunburn setting in. After a long winters night, it was a feel good burn and much needed UV. It was kind of like eating some really good hot wings invoking a fifth sense into their enjoyment. It was an absolute perfect day; great weather, great beer, great brewing, great food and friends and when I got home, I had the pleasure of reading that my beloved Steelhead Extra Pale Ale won a bronze medal in the Golden Ale category at the 2012 World Beer Cup. Big Brew Day could not have been any better.