For the last 15 years, Samuel Adams has run the Longshot homebrew contest. Longshot is Jim Koch and Samuel Adams brewers annual process to highlight, aspire and award the best of the best home brewers.
This year over 1000 homebrewers entered the competition. After working their way through a panel of industry experts, two stood above the rest: Corey Martin's A Dark Night in Munich and Joe Formanek's Five Crown Imperial Stout. Besides the two homebrew winners, part of Longshot is an internal competition amongst Samuel Adams employees. Here, after a final vote by the attendees at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, Fred Hessler's Derf's Secret Alt took the internal prize.
Outside of simply the thrill of the "win", the homebrewers get to have their beers massed produced and distributed by Samuel Adams. Now that is a prize.
I was particularly pleased with them all, but especially Derf's Secret Alt and the Five Crown Imperial Stout. The fact that they both happened to be 9% ABV plus beers had nothing to do with it. I swear.
If you want to enjoy the offerings of this year's winners, 6 packs are available at your local beer store. If you want a chance to take a stab at winning the 2013 contest, you need to enter first. Not only can you add your well crafted beer into the mix, you can read about the art of homebrewing and heed sage advice from Jim Koch. It's a pretty amazing contest/opportunity.
Although this contest kicks ass on several levels, I will never be a Samuel Adams Longshot winner. My brewing is too Busch League. Yes, I love the beer I make, but the key to successful brewing is dedication, experimentation and consistency. I, on the other hand, brew to have fun in the moment. Yes, I keep records. Yes, I'm dedicated…but the consistency gets a little hard when Brew Days are just as much social as they are, well, brew days. When I start counting yeast cells, better gauge attenuation and hit all my marks during the brew, I might consider entering. Until then, no matter what your long term goals, pick up a homebrew kit and get brewing. The Longshot contest awaits.
NB: Samuel Adams provided me with the Longshot 6 pack and I drank them. I also purchased up a Sam Adams super summer mix pack at Sam's Club. I've had most of them too. This is a disclosure after all.