A few weekends ago the Allentown Brew Works hosted the first annual Brewer for a Day competition for Lehigh Valley Beer Week. Homebrewers from near and far brought their brews to be judged by the crowd. Towards the end of the night all attendees were invited to vote for their favorite brew of the evening and the winner, JJ Bonick, will be brewing his beer for Lehigh Valley Beer Week under the moniker LVBW2. Here’s a recap of the event:
To start, there were a ton of beers here. A ton. We tried a lot of beer, but it would’ve taken a serious feat to try everything and not get absolutely pretty hammered. Before things got very hazy, we tried the gamut of things that sounded like they’d be LVBW-worthy. There was a bunch of mediocre offerings, yes, and even some just plain bad beers, like the one that tasted like cleaning solution. But a good bunch of the beers that were on display were interesting, inventive, and some just flat out delicious.
The first beer that caught our attention actually ended up as the winner. JJ Bonick’s I to the P to the A Wheat, a (you guessed it) wheat/IPA hybrid was pretty damn good, exhibiting the qualities (like the clove and spice flavors) that you’d expect from a good hefe but brimming with great hop notes. The winner in our eyes, though, was Kiel Fisher’s “Marge.” We’re not sure if this was supposed to be a pale ale or a flat-out IPA, but it was astoundingly hoppy and reminiscent of Tired Hands and Hill Farmstead, two breweries who are absolutely murdering most everyone in the booming craft beer game. Someone get this man a brewing job in the Lehigh Valley, please.
Tom Leskin brewed up Le Chat va Le Mow, a perfume-like lavender saison that was inundated with lavender, lavender, lavender. We liked it, but it was probably a very polarizing, love-it-or-hate-it beer. Tim Wasalski brewed up a few beers, the best of which was a gluten-free peach saison that screamed “summer beer”. Michael Sexton did up an extremely drinkable hibiscus saison that was comparable to, even better than, Grassroots Brewing’s Convivial Suarez. And last but not least, we loved Christopher Noone and Patt Phelan’s Kalahari Watermelon Wheat. What an absolutely mind-meltingly good summer beer. This was so tasty and full of watermelon it put other beers, like 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon, to shame. They said they used something crazy like 3lbs of watermelon for every 5 gallon batch, and boy, did it show.
We also had some tasty bites from area restaurants, like Porter’s, Black & Blue, and The Trapp Door, which helped soak up some of the beer before our livers were inundated. All in all it was a crowded, but very fun event that we hope continues for future Lehigh Valley Beer Weeks. Although the crowd-sourced winner wasn’t the one we would’ve chosen, it’s certainly a worthy beer and one we’ll be glad to quaff once LVBW 2014 rolls around.