Compiled by Bill Ridgely, BURP Archivist
For a number of years, May was one of the busiest months on the BURP calendar. This was because two major events took place during the month – the annual BURP Chili Cook-Off and, almost immediately afterward, the Spirit of Free Beer homebrew competition. Your humble compiler recalls spending many hours during and after the chili competition checking in and sorting entries for the upcoming homebrew competition. The year 2008 followed this pattern once again. The 23rd annual Chili Cook-Off was held at the home of Rick Garvin & Christine Johnbrier in McLean, VA on Sat, May 3. Ten teams of chili chefs vied for the coveted championship, once again sponsored by the Hard Times Café in Alexandria. As reported by Chili Commissioner Matt Pyle, the day was sunny and hot, but a lively party atmosphere prevailed. All of the chilis were first rate, but in the end, BURP resident foodie-par-excellence Tim Artz prevailed with his magnificent “Smokin’ Bowl o’ Red”, crafted using beef, pork butt, and venison as the meat components and home grown and home smoked chili peppers. Second place went to Team Wild Thang (the Lees & Maddens), and third went to Team Jackelope (Cannons, Crowes, and Marler). The 3rd place Jackelope Chili was made using Steve Marler’s Chipotle Smoked Porter as the required beer component. Once again, the prize for “Hottest Chili” went to Team Sphincter (Rick Garvin & Christine Johnbrier) for their by now renowned “Satan’s Sphincter Chili”. The accompanying competition at the Chili Cook-Off was for “Best Beer to go with Chili”, and there were 8 entries this year with an emphasis on lagers. First place went to a Franconian Kellerbier brewed by Team Jackelope. Second place also went to a Franconian Kellerbier brewed by Team Sphincter. Third was awarded to Tim Artz for his Munich Helles.
The 16th annual Spirit of Free Beer competition was held one week later at Old Dominion Brewery in Ashburn, VA. There were 214 entries from all parts of the U.S. BURP’s Culture Ministers Bruce Bennett & Wendy Schmidt served as co-organizers and did a great job pulling the team together for the event. Prizes were awarded in 20 style categories, with Best of Show honors going to two of BURP’s finest (both then and now) brewers, Mel Thompson and Ed Bielaus. Mel took both 1st and 2nd place BOS with, respectively, his “Limey Guano” IPA and his “Bowel Bomb” Barleywine (Mel is well known for his colorful beer names). Ed took 3rd place BOS with his “Renal Carbuncle’s Private Reserve” Belgian Strong Ale.
Full reports on the Chili Cook-Off and the Spirit of Free Beer (along with some fine photos) can be seen in the June 2008 issue of BURP News, available on the BURP website at https://www.burp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Newsletter200806.pdf. Full results of the 2008 SOFB can also be viewed on the BURP website at https://www.burp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/SoFB-2008-Results.pdf.
The May 2008 BURP News kicked off with Co-Fearless Leader Alan Hew’s announcement of the next competition in his “brewing challenge” series – this time for beers flavored with botanical ingredients other than hops (the “Hop Embargo Challenge”). The competition was scheduled for the June meeting. Next up were announcements of two other upcoming events – a homemade wine tasting at BURPer Ralph Bucca’s home on the “lower, slower” eastern shore (in May) and the “Great Taste of the Midwest” in Wisconsin in August. Ralph then completed his two-part travelogue on his adventures in Asia Minor with his report on his “farmer-to-farmer” work visit to Armenia. The issue wrapped up nicely with a report on the use of spent grains to make bread by Bruce Ng and Beth Demyanick (including their own recipe for spent grain whole wheat bread). You can read the full issue on the BURP website at https://www.burp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/newsletter200805.pdf.