Posted in Festivals

Homebrewing is where it starts…

… and sometimes continues. Most of the big guys in the craft beer industry started in their garage (and sometimes continue to homebrew on the side) so it’s only natural that I’d end up putting the local homebrew guys in the spotlight on my website sometimes.

Steinbeck's Home Brew Fest
Duane Shima from Bottoms Up Homebrew Supplies

I attended my first Steinbeck’s Home Brew Fest yesterday. Now I have to be honest. Not all the beer I tasted was taproom material, but there were an incredible amount of well-crafted brews that have the potential to make it big(ger). This home brew fest was on its fourth annual and co-sponsor and co-organizer Duane Shima, 45, of Bottoms Up Homebrew Supplies said it’s been growing steadily since its inception. They first started as part of the Salinas Steinbeck Festival four years ago but have outgrown their allotted space. This year was their first year at the Salinas Sports Complex. It seems they sold over 1,000 tickets this year as they ran out of the 1,000 cups that were ordered for the event. It’s also fitting that National Homebrew Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in May. The event’s proceeds support the Salinas Steinbeck Rotary Club.

Let’s talk beer. Shall we?

Steinbeck's Home Brew FestI want to give a special shoutout to a few of the breweries present at the event and thank the guys at J5 Brewing for inviting me! Steinbeck’s Home Brew Fest recognizes excellence in 5 different ways: the pro-am Alvarado Street Brewing Bottle Entry Competition, which will then have the opportunity to brew with Alvarado Street Brewing; the People’s Choice Award; and the Judge’s Choice Award, which comprises three sub-categories: best hoppy, best session and best dark.

Mjölnir Brewing won the Alvarado Street Brewing Bottle Entry Competition with the Best-in-Show title for their German Lager (not featured at the event on Saturday because Duane said brewer Thor wasn’t entirely satisfied with the kegging). Following Mjölnir was J5 Brewing’s Adelynn Belgian-Style Saison. I obviously couldn’t try Mjölnir’s lager, but I can tell you J5’s saison was definitely on point!

Steinbeck's Home Brew Fest
Steinbeck’s Home Brew Fest at the Salinas Sports Complex

The People’s Choice Award went to La Cantina Brewing Co. There again, I couldn’t try their beer because they had run out by the time I made it to their booth. I guess people really did like it! I got to talk to owner Horacio Davila and let’s just say they have a couple things in the works. I’ll have to check in with them again soon!

Not entirely sure who won the three judge awards, but I know one thing: Duane of Bottoms Up asked me to be a judge next year! Yay! Mom, are we there yet?! I can’t wait to taste all the great creations those guys will work on over the next year.

In the meantime, I’d also like to mention a few other home brewers who are worth watching: Brew-N-Krew, JDL Brewing, Martha’s Hopyard, MiraCAL Brew, and Cerveceria Buena Vista. I’m sure I missed quite a few, but there were right under 50 booths at the event and those stuck out. Can you imagine? 50 homebrewers?! That’s a lot.

Steinbeck's Home Brew Fest
Cerveceria Buena Vista

Duane, who serves as the liaison between the organizers and the homebrewers said they were supposed to have a couple more homebrewers at the event but that they didn’t end up showing up. “I have to keep them motivated,” Duane said. “The challenge is that it takes a lot of time to make beer, and it takes 4-5 weekends to make something special to share with people.”

There is always next year… See you then Salinas!

More pictures from the festival: