A Columbus man’s home-brewed beer will compete nationally with 89 other brews at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in October.
Michael Calvin’s Good Miss Mosaic beer won the 2014 Upland Brewing Company UpCup competition in Bloomington, which includes an entry into the national festival competition.
Calvin describes the home brew as a light hybrid beer/American wheat.
“I really entered more for the feedback,” Calvin said. “I didn’t expect to win.”
Calvin was first among 57 other Upland Brewing UpCup entrants.
He received a beer-keg trophy inscribed with the names of previous winners. Upland is brewing a batch of the beer on professional equipment.
Most of the contestants were from Indiana and surrounding states, but there was one entrant from Florida. The competition was in June at Upland’s production facility in Bloomington.
Calvin, a microbiologist for a pharmaceutical company, has been brewing his own beer for about six years.
“Like most guys, I was interested in beer in college, but I was attracted to it as a hobby for the creative and scientific aspects of it,” Calvin, 30, said. “It was the connection to my work that keep me interested in it through my first few brews, which turned out pretty bad.”
His award–winning brew gets its name from his wife’s cat and the Mosaic hops used as an ingredient.
“I typically brew a wheat beer for my wife because that’s her favorite style,” Calvin said. “It is sort of a boring or plain style of beer, so every time I brew one, I test out a new hops variety, and I think that was the key to the success of this beer.”
Calvin shared the
Good Miss Mosaic at the Columbus Bar on Fourth Street on Tuesday with other members of the Columbus Area Classic Alers.
The Alers are a group of home brewers who meet once a month at the downtown bar to share information, offer feedback and taste each other’s newest recipes.
The group’s Facebook page lists 87 members, but most meetings include anywhere from 12 to 24 brewers and aficionados.
Tom Potowski, one of the group’s early members, said the club has its origins in the growing popularity of craft brews.
“There were more and more home brewers in the area and a lot of people wanted to share information,” Potowski said. “Certainly there was the Internet, but to be able to taste the beer that somebody brewed and offer some advice or ask questions about the beer you have brewed is indispensable.”
The basic formula for home-brewed beer involves mixing water with grain to get a sugar and boiling the runoff with hops at various times. The mixture is then cooled and yeast is added. A variety of other ingredients can be added to achieve a particular taste or just for fun. Mushrooms and pumpkin are some of the more unusual ingredients the local brewers have tasted or tried.
“We kind of make beer how we want to make it,” Calvin said. “Sometimes we’ll trip over something we didn’t really expect that we really like, and that’s kind of the whole point of it.”
Pete Batule, vice president of brewing operations for Upland Brewing Co., said Calvin’s beer is still in fermentation at the brewery and is almost ready to be tapped.
“We will be kegging it this week, and we will release it to all of our locations later this month. We’ve brewed similar styles of beer, and the recipe isn’t quite exactly the same because we have to change some things with how we process it. But it’s as close as we can get it,” Batule said.
Calvin’s beer will not become part of Upland’s regular offerings but will be available at its locations until the batch is gone.
The beer also will be shipped to Denver and judged against the other home brew recipes in the national pro-am competition.
Upland Brewing Company has been brewing beer since 1998, and this is the seventh year for the UpCup competition.
Entry to the UpCup contest is only $5 but is limited to one entry per person, which prevents any contestant from flooding the competition with a wide range of brews.
Batule said competition judges look for beers that are true to the style and those that contain certain drink and flavor characteristics with no “spoilers.”
“They test for any off flavors because there are compounds that you don’t want in beer,” Batule said. “They are basically looking for defects.”
Upland has two production breweries in Bloomington, including a downtown location with a restaurant that makes sour brews.
It will produce about 15,000 barrels at its main brewery this year and about 300 barrels of sour brews at the downtown location. It also has a tap house restaurant in Carmel and a tasting room in Broad Ripple in Indianapolis.
Upland beers are distributed in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin.