Get Ready, Beer Fans! The 1st Annual Wastewater Brewing Competition Is Almost Here

Entries for the 1st Annual Wastewater Brewing Competition have started to roll in. Get ready to sample everything from lagers to IPAs in this industry taste test.

Get Ready, Beer Fans! The 1st Annual Wastewater Brewing Competition Is Almost Here
Craft brewers from across the Midwest will compete for Golden Growler bragging rights during the WWETT Show Kickoff Party in Indianapolis on Thursday, Feb. 18.

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Craft brewers from across the Midwest will compete for Golden Growler bragging rights during the WWETT Show Kickoff Party in Indianapolis on Thursday, Feb. 18.

Up for judging in the 1st Annual Wastewater Brewing Competition are six distinct beers, from a spring bock maibock to IPAs and a Vienna lager.

Among the early entrants is Kirt Weakman of Northwoods Technology Solutions, who will have a sampling of his maibock/helles bock in the competition. Dan Miller from Pelton Environmental Products hopes to grab the Golden Growler with his Root Ball Ale Black Lager fermented as an ale, while Andy Melton from RapidView IBAK LLC will bring his Lemmy India Pale Ale.

“I’ve entered beer competitions before, so I thought I would get one that kind of pops out and hopefully stands above the crowd,” says Melton, who has been brewing for about five years. “I usually enter pretty big competitions. I just like to see the evaluation. I’ve had a couple of beers that ranked in the 40s out of 50, so I was pretty happy with that.”

Melton got interested in brewing through his friend, Weakman.

“He started brewing about 20 years ago, and I was always interested. I would say pale ale or IPA is what we end up brewing the most. I’ve brewed some heavy chocolate styles, some cream ales. It’s usually ales; I’ve only done a couple of lagers,” says Melton, who brews 40 to 55 gallons a month.

“I think I have a shot,” he says of his Lemmy Pale Ale. “It’s kind of a citra pale ale IPA. It’s a really good hop. It really stands out.”

Other entrants include John Wilson with his Flopstout Milk Stout and Patrick McGarry from the Athens County Health Department, Athens, Ohio, and his Little Honey Dipper Vienna Lager and Honey Dipper 2 American IPA.

“It’s just a nice clean lager,” McGarry says of the Little Honey Dipper. “It’s a German-style lager and a pretty balanced beer — neither malt nor hops dominate.”

McGarry’s Honey Dipper 2 American IPA features a new variety of hops that came onto the market the past year.

“It’s going to be very hop-forward with a short, dry aftertaste.”

McGarry says there’s no special significance to the Honey Dipper name. “I was just trying to come up with something more relevant to the wastewater industry.”

Both beers contain a touch of honey — less than 1 percent, although you’re not likely to taste it in the final product because most was consumed during fermentation.

No rookie to beer competitions, McGarry has taken home a few first- and second-place medals.

“It kind of got started in college,” says McGarry, who attended Ohio University. “I realized beer could taste different from Bud Light and Miller Lite. A small brewing pub opened up, and I started exploring. After college, I got a Mr. Beer kit that didn’t turn out so well the first couple go-rounds. Six, seven years later I got back into it.”

McGarry now brews 5 gallons once or twice a month for family and friends.

“Mostly just for the fun of it,” he says. “I do a lot of experimental things. I’ve got friends who are gardeners. We’ll use some different fruits, and I’ve done some vegetable-based things for weddings and family get-togethers.”

Perhaps his most unusual beer was a ghost pepper brew.

“I liked it,” he says. “A lot of other people didn’t. It had quite a bit of heat to it. It doesn’t take a lot of ghost peppers to spice up 5 gallons of beer,” he says of the world’s hottest chilies. “That’s one I probably won’t do again. Pawpaws are a native fruit around southeast Ohio, so I do a pawpaw beer. It’s a pretty big hit around here.”

McGarry’s favorite beer is IPA, which he always has on tap.

When not brewing beer, McGarry is in charge of the private water and wastewater program for Athens, a county of about 30,000 residents.

And, no, McGarry has no thoughts of becoming a full-time brewer.

“I’ve seen it from afar and the work that goes into it,” he says. “I’m just a fan of craft brewing.”

This will be McGarry’s first trip to the WWETT Show, which runs Feb. 17-20. He plans to attend as many of the onsite education seminars as possible, walk the show floor and possibly take home top prize in the brewing competition.

“I’m excited to see the trade show and do a little bit of networking,” he says.

Jeff Bruss, president of COLE Publishing and a member of the craft beer judging panel, says contestants are required to provide 12 ounces of their malty, grainy, hoppy concoctions for the judges to taste test.

Other members of the panel will include an attendee, exhibitor and possibly two additional judges. Competition begins at 6 p.m. at the Kickoff Party inside Lucas Oil Stadium. 


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