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The 35th Annual A.H.A. National Homebrewers Conference (2013)

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Next week, the 35th annual American Homebrewers Association National Homebrewers Conference will take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Though the conference is officially Thursday, June 27-Saturday, June 29, there are pre-conference activities taking place earlier in the week including a BJCP tasting exam, which we here at Beer Loves Company will be taking (fingers crossed!). So, what exactly does a homebrew conference entail? Well, to be honest, we are not 100% sure as this is our first time attending, but we are more than eager to find out!

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Though this is the 35th year the conference will be happening, only a handful of iterations have taken place on the east coast, with the first 10 being held in Colorado. Since then, the AHA Conference has been held everywhere from California to Texas to Chicago and this year will be the first time it is being brought to Philadelphia. Since it will be so close to home, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend, though tickets were not easy to come by. Last year over 1,800 people attended the conference and numbers this year should be similar, with passes selling out the same day they went on sale. Perhaps the pinnacle of the conference is the National Homebrew Competition, which is the world largest. It began in 1979 with only 34 entries and last year received almost 8,000 beers from brewers hoping to be named “Homebrewer of the Year”. But, it won’t be all competition, hard work and tests in Philadelphia next week.

“Club Night” is one of the events we already have on our calendar and are looking forward to participating in. As the name suggests, this is a night where homebrew clubs get to represent themselves and the beers their members have brewed. We will be attending as members of Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts (alongside 85 other homebrew clubs from around the country) and serving three beers we had a hand in brewing. The first is a hoppy American Brown Ale that was brewed alongside Matt Bollerman and is currently doing it’s thing in a cask, waiting patiently to be served. The other two are both hefeweizens that came from the same ten gallon batch, but were separated “at birth” and given different additions. One keg has been spiced with Sichuan and pink peppercorns, while the other was sweetened with mango and smoked cinnamon. These wild beers were brewed with wild man Frank Fillacione and our hope is that they will be tasty on their own or complimentary when mixed together. We will be detailing the brewing process of both the Brown Ale and Hefeweizen leading up to the AHA Conference.

Throughout the weekend there will also be seminars and guest speakers, while many neighboring craft beer establishments will be hosting events for conference attendees. We have not been to Philadelphia since the days of school trips to the Liberty Bell, so this will be a great chance to check out some craft beer and food establishments that are just a short train ride from New York City. Look for a travel guide to Philly upon our return as well as an answer to perhaps the most important question of all: “Which beer pairs best with a cheese steak?”

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