Sunday, March 22, 2015

Judging Blue Moon at NHC during SXSW

So we didn't judge Blue Moon beers, but all the things in the title did happen in the past 10 days.

The month of March has increasingly become a very busy month for us. While we don't get to partake in Spring Break (can I go back to being a student?), I am at least thankful the traffic is manageable during Spring Break week! 

National Homebrew Competition

For the past two years, Austin has been a judging site for the National Homebrew Competition (NHC). Austin is one of a dozen sites. This year, judging weekend fell smack dab during the first weekend of SXSW. Needless to say, we ended up helping with NHC most of that first weekend. 

serious judging going on 

While I am not BJCP certified, Micah is. Even if you're not certified but you want to learn about beer competitions and what off flavors there are in beer (there are many!), it's always a great learning experience to go help judge/steward! I usually help steward (taking care of score sheets, pulling beer, etc.), which still allows me to sample some of the brews.

The Austin location received around 600 entries, so it's imperative to have a great team get everything together. Thankfully, the Austin-area has a great homebrewing community so all that team work paid off! And a big round of applause for Neil who coordinated it all! 


After getting all that beer judging out of the way, we were finally able to get in some SXSW fun. 

Some highlights of the week:

1. Lil Bub: Everybody is familiar with Grumpy Cat, but did you know about Lil Bub? I didn't, until a friend dropped some cat knowledge on me. Lil Bub was born with several genetic defects (dwarfism, bone issues, to name a few). According to her website, her lower jaw is significantly shorter than her uppper jaw and her teeth never grew in which is why her tongue is always hanging out. 

Lil Bub and her owner also travel around the country raising money for various animal charities. At this event, she was also named the official cat of Animal Planet!

My friend, who is a huge cat lover, wanted to take one of these posters home. 

Legnard was at the various Rachael Ray parties since Blue Moon is one of the official sponsors at the events.

While everyone is familiar with their original Belgian wit, they are expanding their portfolio with a new White IPA, which will be available starting next month. Since I can drink this IPA, I would say it's not a traditional IPA. The hops (Simcoe, Citra and Cascade) are present but not overly bitter - it sits around 40-50 IBUs. This is definitely their gateway IPA for non-IPA drinkers. If you're a Pliny fan, I can't say this beer would quench your hop thirst. 

Interesting tidbits I learned about Blue Moon Brewing and Legnard:
  • The original Belgian White is made with only Valencia orange peel (no other types of peel) and it was originally named the Belly Slide Belgian White.
  • They make 18 beers a year, most of which are seasonals.
  • They make 100-250 test batches every year
  • Legrand has been with Blue Moon since the very beginning (20 years!). He was there at GABF in 1989, you know, when there were only a handful of brewers in play.
  • Blue Moon was never "bought out" by Coors. I always thought that was the case. Apparently, Coors started Blue Moon Brewing at the Coors Field in Denver in 1995. They were brewing their own brews to sell at the stadium and it's been there ever since. In a way, Coors was ahead of the times? 
  • A cappuccino stout is on the roster for release later this year.

3. Vibe/Axe White Label Collective Party

John Legend has the voice of an angel and he was less than 20 feet away from me! I was trying to find his wife, Chrissy Teigen (girl crush alert!) but she was no where to be found. I guess I'll keep stalking her on Twitter and Instagram. 


John Legend did a quick set of four songs but there were some other fun artists on stage as well. Lenny Kravitz' daughter, Lolawolf, was a lot of fun as well as rapper YG! [video has Legend and YG]. While I didn't know who YG was while he was on stage, I did know his mix with Jeremih on "Don't Tell 'Em" when he started performing that song. West Coast rapper to the fullest.

Other Random Photos:

Trying to stay dry at the Rachael Ray Stubb's party. Thankfully the weekend wasn't a complete wash out!

The crowd at the RR Party. Slightly smaller crowd due to the rain.

The menu at the party: sliders, bbq chicken tacos and mexican corn in a cup.

Because flash mobs just happen in Downtown Austin.

It's the Biebs!