As part of a ramp up to Grovetoberfest, the beer-centric festival to be held at Coconut Grove's Peacock Park this Saturday, October 18, held its third annual Miami's Best Homebrew competition. After a panel of judges that included local Miami brewers, restaurateurs, and journalists (myself included), Barley Works, a team of three homebrewers from Hialeah emerged victorious, taking home top prizes in two categories, as well as the Best of Show title.
The competition took place at Gold Coast Distributors' on-site pub, and beers were judged on a simple point system. Each brew was poured blindly for judges, who rated for aroma, appearance, taste, and overall quality. In addition, each beer was graded for the Best of Show award, with results tallied on the spot by Grovetoberfest director Tony Albelo.
Tony Hernandez, Luis Diaz, and Danny Steigerwald, the brewers behind Barley Works, have been brewing for years, but it was only a few months ago that the friends decided to combine efforts to make great beer, inspired, in part, by guidance from the Miami Area Society of Home Brewers (MASH).
The homebrewers' Fruit Slam, a double IPA made with Conan yeast, won in the Hop Forward category, but their big win went to their La Guapa Sucia, which won the Best Balanced and was named Best of Show. The beer, a Florida Weiss impressed the judges with its fragrant guava and passion fruit notes and tart refreshing taste. Barley Works' Luis Diaz attributes the flavor to the Brett yeast they used, which gives the beer its unique funk.
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Other winners include Jaime Medina, who won the Malt Forward category for his La Cafetera, a porter rich with coffee and chocolate notes and Opus Ales' Papi Chulo, an Imperial Saison that won in the Gasolina category, which is reserved for beers with a 10 percent or higher ABV.
If you'd like to taste for yourself, Grovetoberfest will feature an entire section devoted to South Florida homebrewers. Tickets start at $40 and can be purchased at grovetoberfest.com.