Ya sure, dontcha know.

This is one of the first greetings I received when arriving in Fargo, North Dakota this past Saturday (in jest, of course). This weekend I had the honor of being asked to speak at the annual Hoppy Halloween Challenge, hosted by the local Prairie Homebrew Companions. I was invited to attend by Susan Ruud, also of the AHA Governing Committee, whom I had the recent pleasure of judging with at the recent Great American Beer Festival. When Susan picked me up from the airport in Fargo, the snow had just started coming down…just for me.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with this particular competition, it’s centered around Halloween. While all of the familiar beer categories are judged, they also have some additional categories that are based around the them, each beer delivered to the judges complete with an elaborate presentation and the audience watching. Attendees to the banquet also dressed in costume, and I’m embarrassed to say, I failed to pack one. If you know me at all, you know how much I love costumes. Medals were awarded, which were attached to hand-made lanyards, by club member Vince, also Halloween themed (this year specifically, was mummies). As the evening wore on, I was able to taste many excellent beers – both homebrew and commercial. I was having such a fine time, that I stayed up with the group until the wee hours of the morning when I finally stumbled down the hall to my room for some much-needed sleep.

The following day, Susan organized a brew day at Eric’s house, another club member. We were joined by several others throughout the day, and brewed a 20 gallon batch of Belgian Dark Strong on Eric’s all electric brew system, which he built himself. We intended to split this batch into four, so I had shipped ahead some yeast – WLP500, WLP515, WLP530, and WLP545 – so some starters could be made. I have to admit, I didn’t do much to assist with the brewing, but it doesn’t seem right to come between a man and his brew system (unless he asks of course!). I did handle the yeast though, as you might have guessed.

All in all, it was a really enjoyable weekend. I came away with a suitcase full of fun beer-related souvenirs. I had the chance to visit a new city, drink some great beer, brew some beer and best of all, I had the fortune to meet and spend time with some really great folks – Susan, Tom and Nancy (who you may know, since they were recently crowned President of Brews), Eric, Dick, Steve, Karl, Vince, Tony, Mike and Carla, Paul and Amy (best costumes of the competition), Ellen the Biology professor at Moorehead State, and so many others (I apologize for not remembering everyone’s name, I really did try). Thank you Fargo and thank you Prairie Homebrew Companions for such great hospitality!!

It’s safe to say, I’ll be baaack!

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