Second Annual Beer Hoptacular Hombrew Challenge

Homebrew Challenge

Presented by Bell's Brewery

This is a unique opportunity to compete head-to-head (so to speak) with other tri-state area homebrew clubs, with one being crowned Chicago’s “Beer Hoptacular Homebrew Club of the Year

Just a reminder that there is no competition entry fee and each competing club will receive two complimentary tickets to the Beer Hoptacular Saturday afternoon session, November 9th, 2013. 

There is only one grain supplied for this year’s beer – and only one is ALLOWED.There are no style requirements other than brewing a Single Malt And Single Hop beer.

Official Rules and Regulations

  1. Each competing club must brew its beer using this grain only.  You may use as much or as little of this grain as you choose, but you may not add any other grains to this bill.  You may also alter these grains (toast, roast, smoke, etc.) if you choose.
  2. You may add herbs, spices and miscellaneous flavoring such as fresh fruits or fruit flavorings, but you may not add any fermentable sugars -no malt extract, candi syrup, invert sugar, honey, apple juice, molasses, treacle, etc. (for the purpose of this competition, fruit is the only allowable fermentable sugar).  Oak chips and barrel aging are allowed.
  3. You are not required to make a full 5-gallon batch.
  4. Each competing club may add hop character to this beer as it chooses.  Hop varieties and quantities used are up to the individual club, but in keeping with the S.M.A.S.H. concept, only one hop variety should be used.  The single hop variety used in this beer must be disclosed on competition entry forms.
  5. Beer style is not stipulated.  Each competing club may choose to ferment and age its beer in any way it chooses.  Any beer yeast and fermentation temperature is allowed.
  6. Six 12-ounce brown (amber) bottles must be submitted for judging.  All six of the bottles must have a label affixed to them with rubber bands.  Labels must be clearly and completely filled out.  Use this label:
  7. Competing bottles must be shipped to, or dropped off at, Mid Country Malt Supply (see address below) no later than 3:00 pm on Thursday, November 7th ***NO EXCEPTIONS!!!***
  8. All competition beers will be judged by Professional and BJCP judges on Saturday morning, November 9th, 2013.  The sole winner will be announced at the Beer Hoptacular Saturday afternoon session.  The judges’ decision is final!

Send Entries to:

Mid Country Malt Supply
ATTN: Beer Hoptacular Challenge
334 Armory Drive
South Holland, Illinois 60473


Meet The Judges

For the second annual Homebrew Challenge we compiled an expert panel of judges to bring an hoptical amount of expertise to the judges table. Each homebrew club's entry will be critiqued by the following beer aficionados:



Chief Justice - Marty Nachel

Marty Nachel is an award-winning freelance writer and book author of renown.  His works include “Beer for Dummies” and “Homebrewing for Dummies”.  In addition to his writings, Marty teaches beer appreciation classes throughout the Chicago area. 

 Nachel’s palate has been expertly honed since he became a Certified Beer Judge in 1986 (the first in the state of Illinois).  He has served as a beer evaluator at the Beverage Tasting Institute in Chicago, he’s a Beer Judge at F.o.B.A.B. in Chicago, a finalist Judge at the Sam Adams LongShot Competition in Boston, and he also serves on the Panel of Professional Beer Judges at the Great America Beer Festival in Denver.

Marty launched his Ale-Conner Beer Certification Program ( in 2011 and is currently the Tour Director at Hop’d Up Craft Beer Tours in the Chicago area.



Judge - Joe Formanek

Joe Formanek started homebrewing nearly 25 years ago as an undergraduate in Microbiology at the University of Minnesota. He was bitten by the brewing bug after taking a tour of Summit Brewing Company within a year after they had opened in St. Paul in 1987, and he has been going ever since. Joe later went to Graduate School at the University of Illinois and helped found the Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots (BUZZ) Homebrew Club. He currently resides in Bolingbrook, IL, is a Technical Director for a Food Company in Chicago, and is a proud member of the Urban Knaves of Grain Homebrew Club. Joe is also the Midwest Regional Representative for the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), holds a National Judge ranking, and is currently the Vice President of the organization.

Over the years, Joe has received many honors related to homebrewing. He is a 6 time winner of the Midwest Homebrewer of the Year award (1999, 2001-2004, 2007), won the American Homebrewers Association Meadmaker of the Year award in 2004, is a 2 time winner of the American Homebrewers Association Ninkasi Award (2000, 2006) for winningest brewer in the final round of judging, and has won numerous BOS awards at local and regional competitions.

Most recently, he was honored as being named one of the two homebrewer winners of the 2011 Sam Adams Longshot American Homebrewing Competition. Joe will help brew his winning Russian Imperial Stout at one of Sam Adams’ breweries later this year. The Longshot six-pack containing Joe’s winning brew will be distributed nationally in March, 2012.



Judge - Steve Hamburg

A homebrewer since 1984 and a BJCP Judge since 1990, Steve Hamburg has a wealth of beer and brewing knowledge earned the old fashioned way - he drank it! After some 30 trips to the UK and judging 7 times at the annual Great British Beer Festival in London, it's no surprise that Steve is renowned for his expertise on British beer styles. But he has also traveled extensively throughout the other major European brewing countries and taught beer appreciation and judging classes for
three years in Japan, where he is an Honorary Master Judge.

In the USA he has organized or judged countless homebrew competitions, is a two-time Best-of- Show Judge for the AHA National Homebrew Competition, and has judged every year at Chicago’s Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer. Steve was co-founder and cellarmaster for the Chicago Real Ale Festival (1996-2003) and is cellarmaster for the Chicago Beer Society's annual Day of the Living Ales (2005-present). He has lectured extensively on British beer styles and the cellarmanship of cask-conditioned beer, including classes for the Siebel Institute of Technology/Doemens World Brewing Academy, professional brewers guilds, and homebrew clubs.

Mr. Hamburg has been a regular contributor to Zymurgy and other beer publications, including The New Brewer, All About Beer, and Great Lakes Brewing News. He also earned a Certificate in Sensory Analysis for Flavor Production & Control from the Siebel Institute of Technology.


JUDGE - Sales Manager, Bell’s Brewery, Inc

Judge - Marty Compton

With over 25 years in the beer business on the East Coast, West Coast, and North Coast (Alaska), Marty joined Bell’s Brewery in 2008. Holding positions in Sales and Marketing Management at breweries (Bell’s, Redhook, Orchard Street) and distributors (Maryland/DC, Seattle, Alaska) as well as founding his own consulting company has allowed for a deeper insight into all levels of selling craft beer. Passionate about great beer, he has also homebrewed, and is a Certified BJCP Beer Judge.


JUDGE - Senior Spirits & Beer Panelist, Tavernista Party Whip

Judge - Mike Miller

Michael Miller, one of The Beverage Testing Institute’s longest serving and most outspoken judges, is owner and operator of Delilah’s Nightclub and the craft beer centric Bottom Lounge music venue in Chicago. Delilah’s is America’s most recognized whiskey bar (2004 Whisky Magazine, Best Whisky Bar Award), is equally world famous for both its jukebox and its unparalleled selection of beer, wine and spirits. Miller has published dozens of articles concerning all things Drinks, Music, Travel, and Nightlife. Mr. Miller has one feature film to his credit, a cutting edge bar in Spain in the works, and a tremendous dedication to offering the best experience possible for his many patrons and friends. BTI is proud to have Mike on board our panels and thankful for his considerable sensory skills, product knowledge, and thought provoking opinions.


JUDGE - Founder of the Brewers Of South Suburbia

Judge - Steve Kamp

Steve has been a home-brewer since 1983. He became a BJCP certified judge in 1986 and has organized and participated in many home-brew competitions since then. A past president of the Chicago Beer Society and he is one of the founders of the Brewers Of South Suburbia (BOSS). He has been a Beer Hoptacular judge since it's inception.

Kamp has won numerous awards for his beers. He co-brewed a Dortmunder Export style beer at Flossmoor Station Brewery which was entered in the 2009 Great American Beer Festival pro-am competition. Recently he won a home-brew competition put on by Lagunitas Brewing Company and went to Petaluma California to co-brew Fusion 8 an American Black Ale on tap now at many Chicagoland establishments.


JUDGE - Owner of the Beer Bistro

Judge - Bob McDermott

Bob is the Owner/Operator of The Beer Bistro (1061 W. Madison) and The Beer Bistro North (1415 W. Fullerton). , For the past 15+ years Bob has lead the charge to serve Great Craft Beer in Local Bars as well as on the National Level. His Passion for Craft Beer has lead him into opening his own space after working for a few Chicago Institutions and Brew Pubs.

Bob feels that Craft Beer MUST be inclusive not exclusive in order to survive. "The Current growth of Craft Beer Lovers in Chicago is amazing. I for one am excited to see the trend continue for a long time to come." Bob would also like it to be known that he prefers Mälort. Keep up with Bob at @thebeerbistro and @thebeerbistro2


JUDGE - Director, Editor-in-Chief, Man of the World, Beverage Tasting Institute

Judge - Jerald O’Skennard

Jerald O’Kennard is the Director of the Beverage Testing Institute, one of the world’s foremost authorities on alcoholic beverages. The Beverage Testing Institute (BTI)—was founded in 1981, as America’s premier independent alcoholic beverage review organization with a mission to create fair and reliable reviews of wines for consumers. In 1994, BTI began reviewing beers and spirits and founded, and is director of, the World Beer Championships, the oldest international beer competition in America, and the World Spirits Championships—now named the International Review of Spirits. BTI regularly reviews thousands of beverages every year. BTI was the first organization to publish wine reviews online—managing the America Online Food and Drink Network from 1989 to 1999. All of our reviews, including over 30,000 of our most recent reviews, plus hundreds of articles, now appear on our website, Leading producers and marketers participate in BTI’s reviews and competitions because they recognize the Institute’s ability to identify and describe the best products and get that information out to consumers. Additionally, BTI partners with many other websites and media that feature its reviews. Examples include: CNBC, BusinessWeek TV, the Chicago Tribune, WGN Radio, Martha Stewart Radio, BBC Radio International, All About Beer magazine, Restaurant Hospitality magazine, and many others.