Pilgrimage to Homebrew Con: Wrapping up the Conference

In my first entry of the series I talk about the trip and what Homebrew Con is about. Click here

In my second entry I discuss the first couple days of our trip. Click here

In my third entry I recap judging at the NHC final round. Click here

As I write this, Homebrew Con ended about ten days ago. A few things are abundantly clear: this now four-part recap is entirely too long, my recap is no longer timely, and there is a fair chance people have lost interest. I think it is time to wrap things up.

The conference consists of numerous seminars, a keynote address, a homebrew expo, a Craft Beer kickoff party, Club Night, and a Grand Banquet and Awards ceremony.

After I finished judging and ate lunch, Jennie and I checked out the expo. The expo consisted of dozens of vendors with various displays, promotional swag, contests, and give-aways. By the end of Saturday I had several samples of malt, a bunch of different bags of hops, several sachets of dry yeast, stickers, and various other items. I was lucky enough to snag a Northern Brewer extract kit which I will probably brew up in the fall. I was happy to win it, but it was heavy carrying it around all day. The expo had numerous homebrew clubs and craft brewers pouring. Self-control was the only thing keeping anyone sober.

Also in the expo the AHA was selling merchandise and books from Brewer’s Publications. Next to the merchandise various authors were scheduled to have signing sessions. I brought most of my brewing books with me just in case I had the opportunity to get them signed.

I got to meet John Palmer author of two books that I owned, the seminal book How to Brew, co-author of Brewing Classic Styles. He also wrote the book Water as part of Brewers Publications brewing elements series (Yeast, Hops, and Malt being the others).  I took the opportunity to purchase Water and have all three of his books signed. Palmer was very polite, cordial across the same way he does in his books.

Two days later I wanted to have Gordon Strong sign my copy of Modern Homebrew Recipes. After waiting in line for about 15 minutes I realized that I left the book back at the hotel and accidentally took my already signed copy of How to Brew. This was the morning after Club Night. It was a miracle I remembered to wear pants. More on that later.

As casually as possible I left Gordon Strong’s line and hopped into Michael Tonsmeire’s line to have him sign my copy of American Sour Beers. I bought the book when I purchased Water. I told Tonsmeire that I had just started dabbling in sours with the Dawson’s Kriek and another kit. He was gregarious and gave me some great advice to learn about brewing sour beers so I can start designing my own recipes.

Sam Calagione, owner and founder of Dogfish Head made the keynote address and supplied Biere de Provence for the toast. The Craft Beer Kickoff featured several craft brewers from the Mid-Atlantic region.

I enjoyed the seminars. For the most part they were informative without being too dry. I didn’t have time to take in all of the seminars I would have liked, but happily they are recorded and available on the AHA website to all AHA members. Two of the seminars gave me an idea for a fun project for Jamboree; we’ll see if I have enough time and money to brew the four beers I want to make, and if there are enough draught lines at the event.

The highlight of Homebrew Con for me was Club Night. All AHA affiliated clubs are invited to attend and pour at Club Night. More than just showing up and pouring beer, clubs build elaborate displays and dress up in costumes. One club build a jail cell, dressed up in orange jumpsuits with D.O.C on the back (Department of Consumption), and were pouring beer out of a prison urinal. A club from Lancaster, PA wore Amish costumes and had taps coming out of a cow’s udder. Another club dressed up as pirates, built a “pirate ship” bar that they wheeled around the convention floor. I enjoyed the beer on Club Night more than I did at the Craft Beer Kickoff.






Club Night was on Friday and I felt it all day on Saturday. The one seminar I was most looking forward to was the Beer Bloggers Rountable at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. I barely made it there at 9:15, and had to get up and use the facilities about 10 minutes after sitting down. As you can see in the picture, the panelists weren’t feeling much better than I was. During one seminar on regional IPAs I struggled to drink the samples provided as part of the presentation. Jennie and I went on a tour at Heavy Seas lead by brew-master Chris Leonard. The tour was excellent, but I struggled to finish the samples that came with the tour.



From Heavy Seas we took an Uber to World of Beer and slowly I started to feel better. We met a couple of brewers from St. Louis who were buying and sharing the rarest beers from World of Beer’s impressive selection with us and the awesome staff.

After several hours we ventured off to Max’s Taphouse. I ran into a homebrewer named Vinny from the South Shore that I had met over Twitter. He was partying with John Palmer and the Brulosophy guys. I ended up in some epic pictures with Marshall, the original Brulosopher, and everyone in the group.


The next morning our Uber’s GPS made us miss our bus from Baltimore to New York. With no chance of making our connecting bus from New York to Boston, the only way we could make it home was to take the train to BWI airport and buy the last two seats on a flight to Logan. Luckily it was a direct flight and the added bonus was we made it home that much sooner.

The week was an absolute blast. Every serious homebrewer should make it to Homebrew Con at least once. Homebrew Con 2017 is going to be held in Minneapolis. That is the closest major airport to Jennie’s family in Wisconsin. Hmmmm…..we may have to go again next year!

Follow me on Twitter @JChalifour

Like The Would-be Brewmaster on Facebook   

Share what beers you are drinking with me on Untappd

View the complete searchable Would-be Brewmaster Archive here.