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The Daily Tar Heel

Fifth World Home Brew Festival a success

Charities bene?t from the festival

India pale ales, porters and pilsners were shared aside chocolate, chili and pumpkin spice brews at Saturday’s World Home Brew Festival.

More than 250 tasters and a combined 60 home brewers and volunteers turned out for the festival, held at Nightlight.

“It’s about tasting something that’s never been made before and probably cannot be made again due to consistency problems,” said Ethan Johnston, event co-organizer and judge.

“It’s a completely unique product, and it comes from someone you can talk to.”

Steve Day brewed the “White Knuckle Pale Ale” with two friends. He said disappointment with American beer led him to begin brewing his own.

“I lived in London and fell in love with the beer,” he said. “We don’t always get exactly what we’re aiming for, but it’s pretty much good.”

The brewers arrived early to eat, drink, network, share tips and have their beers judged.

Johnston said he developed judging criteria based on aroma, appearance, flavor, mouth feel and overall thoughts on the brew.

“This format isn’t the same that anybody else uses, but it’s modeled after a common format,” he said.

Co-organizer Chandler Vatavuk said the festival grew out of a party about three years ago.

“We challenged some buddies of mine to a brew-off,” he said. “Everybody brought their beer to my house and we threw a big party.

“We just brewed beer to have a good time, and eventually it turned into more of a charity event and a community event.”

Entrance to the festival and a small tasting cup were free, but a $10 donation bought bigger cups. Proceeds went to Nourish International and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The event has informally transitioned to help charities over time, said co-organizer Caleb Rudow.

“It was like, ‘Well, we’re doing this festival, we might as well open it to the public, get more people involved and raise some money in the mean time,” he said.

The organizers have held four similar festivals in the last year but have decided to hold biannual events in the future to maximize attendance, Rudow said.

“We don’t have the non-profit status, but we’re not making money off of it,” he said. “It all goes back into the festival and back into the community.”

Licensed brewers were barred from participating to keep the event amateur level. It is illegal to sell home-brewed beer without a license, so the event was free to the public.

“We want to be free,” Vatavuk said. “And if people want to come in free, we’re going to let them come in free, and that’s cool.”

Contact the City Editor at citydesk@unc.edu.

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