BURP’s 25th Spirit of Free Beer Homebrew Competition

Entry registration for this year’s 25th annual BURP Spirit of Free Beer Homebrew Competition is now open. Homebrewers may register their entries as well as sign up to judge or steward. All beer, cider, and mead styles are included in this competition. The BURP Spirit of Free Beer webpage contains links to the competition registration and sponsor sites as well as results from past competitions.

There are a number of ways you can participate in this event:

* Enter your beers – Entry registration can be done any time between March 1 and March 30. This still gives you time to brew some excellent beers for this competition. For your effort, you will receive not only very helpful feedback on your entries from some of the best and most qualified judges in the country. You may also win some very nifty medals and some fantastic prizes. SOFB has always prided itself on providing the best prizes of any comparable competition in the country. The 2016 competition had prizes with an estimated total retail value of greater than $4000. There is no limit on the number of entries per brewer, and all styles of beer, cider, and mead are eligible for entry. SOFB is also a qualifying event for the very prestigious Masters Championship of Amateur Brewing (MCAB) competition (see http://masterhomebrewer.org/ for details).

* Be a competition judge – If you have taken the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) exam and received your credentials, you may sign up to judge at the competition. In addition, if you are currently taking a BJCP exam preparation class, or you have taken the exam but are still awaiting results, you will be welcome to sign up as a judge. The SOFB Judge Coordinator, Mike Reinitz, will be happy to answer any questions you may have and will provide guidance to all prospective judges. You may contact him by e-mail to mikereinitz@gmail.com.

* Be a competition steward – Competition stewards are critical to the success of any homebrew competition, and no experience is necessary to participate. All you need is a willingness to assist the judges by managing the entries at the table and keeping track of scoresheets and other paperwork – it’s easy and a lot of fun. If you have an interest in how competitions are conducted, and if you want to learn more about beer styles, you will profit by serving as a competition steward. You will also be encouraged to taste the entries along with the judges and provide your own feedback about the beers. It’s a wonderful way to improve your own skills in evaluating beer. The SOFB Steward Coordinator is Mark Raker, and he will be happy to answer your questions about the important role stewards play in the competition. You can contact him at mark@rakeronline.com.

To sign up as a judge or steward, simply visit the website and click “Register” on the top menu. Once you have entered your personal information, you will have options for signing up as a judge or steward at any or all of the four judging sessions (two on Fri, Apr 7 and two on Sat, Apr 8).

Other Volunteer Opportunities – In addition to judging and stewarding, there are other ways you can contribute to the success of the competition:

* Prize solicitation – Our hard-working Prize Coordinator Colleen Cannon is already pulling in lots of great prizes for the competition. If you are willing to help out in this effort (and there are lots of potential new prize sources to be tapped this year), please let Colleen know by e-mailing her at sofbprizes@gmail.com.

* Entry check-in, labeling, and sorting – Volunteers will be needed to help sort, check-in, label, and organize all of the entries. This is one of the most important tasks in any competition, and many hands will make for fairly quick work. This will take place at the competition venue (Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits, and Bistro in Beltsville, MD) on Sat, Apr 1. We are expecting up to 500 entries this year, and each entry comprises 3 bottles. That’s a lot of bottles that will need to be processed. Your help in this effort would be greatly appreciated.

If you are willing to help out with any of these tasks, please contact SOFB organizer Bill Ridgely at aaronridge@comcast.net. Additional benefits for those working at the competition include dinner on Friday (Apr 7) as well as breakfast and lunch on Sat (Apr 8).

Thanks to everyone who volunteers to help make this one of the best homebrew competitions in the country – Free Beer!