Photo by Erica Techo.
A standard homebrew setup includes a pot to heat the water and steep the grain.
Alongside craft beers and wines at Uncorked! On the Green, guests will have the chance to sample one-of-a-kind homebrews.
Uncorked changes every year, said coordinator Audrey Alverson, but this is the first time homebrewers are joining the festivities at the Green at Ross Bridge.
“The homebrew competition [Master of the Brew] will even add to our beer sampling because this is in conjunction with Avondale Brewery and Hop City,” Alverson said. “So there’s a professional judging panel, and the top 25 will be able to showcase their beer at Uncorked.”
Matt Kilpatrick, brand manager for wholesale distributer and Uncorked sponsor AlaBev, said one of their brewers attended a similarly set-up event a few years ago. Bringing homebrew side-by-side with nationally distributed beers helped connect the styles, Kilpatrick said.
“He gave the nod and said that it was one of the best brew festivals he had ever seen,” Kilpatrick said. “We think that this will kind of help bridge the gap.”
Along with the Master of the Brew competition, there will be more than 50 craft beers and dozens of wines available for sampling. By providing an atmosphere focused on tastings and information, Kilpatrick said Uncorked allows people to learn more about beer in a responsible manner. The number of beers available also helps visitors find a beer they enjoy.
“Our favorite customers are the ones who have the guts to come up to the tent and they will tell you they’re not beer people,” Kilpatrick said.
Anyone seeking the perfect beer can answer a few questions about the food and drinks they enjoy, Kilpatrick said, and the workers at the tasting tents will help find a match.
“There is a whole gamut of flavor sensations, and we just like to open people’s minds,” he said.
Adding homebrew tasting also helps build the homebrewing community. Homebrewer Charley Hicks said he enjoys finding out when friends or acquaintances brew their own beer because they can all learn from each other’s experiences.
“It’s almost like an art form, and so being able to share with other people who are creating something that’s not just about getting a little tipsy is great,” he said.
Uncorked is a family event, and there will be more than alcohol to attract attendees.
Instead of the usual bands at the event, there will be a DJ atop an 18-foot-high platform stage at Uncorked.
“In past years we’ve had two stages, and people are so focused on the total event they don’t really focus on the band,” Alverson said.
DJ Mickey Nightrain will perform alongside contortionists, flag twirlers and stilt walkers from Modern Gypsies Productions on the stage. The performers will also wander through the event, providing entertainment away from the main stage.
Uncorked has also added a VIP tent this year. The VIP area includes corn hole boards, reserved restrooms, TVs with the Auburn and Alabama football games and seats in the shade.
“Historically we’ve had a hot day, and people are trying to get in the shade,” Alverson said. “This will be a tented area with fans.”
The VIP area also includes premium beer and wine tastings that aren’t available at the other tents. Tickets for the VIP section are $25.
Aside from free alcohol sampling, Uncorked also brings together local artists. Around 25 artistic and craft vendors are registered for the event and will have their work for sale.
Each year, Alverson’s team brings in a few changes. This desire to constantly make Uncorked better helps keep the event successful, Kilpatrick said.
“I know that Audrey and her team are constantly trying to push the needle on this event and keep it on the front end as far as events go,” he said. “She’s the one who is constantly pushing us. [It’s nice] to have someone who is not willing to settle for last year’s success.”
Breaking down Master of the Brew
Homebrewers will be judged in several categories, including best beer, most original or unique style, most creative name and fan favorite. The winner of the competition will be named Master of the Brew during Uncorked! On the Green.
“Once you become the Master of the Brew, you need the competition so you can continue to claim it, so we hope this will continue to be a part of the yearly Uncorked! On the Green,” event coordinator Audrey Alverson said.
AlaBev has helped with the logistics of the tasting. They created a scoring sheet that includes categories such as taste, mouth feel, appearance and the flavor profile of the beers. Homebrewers are encouraged to be creative with their beer, but they are also encouraged to create a beer fitting for the season.
“We’re looking for seasonal beers, which is like a fall/winter seasonal brew, but no style limitations,” Alverson said.
Homebrewer Charley Hicks said sometimes parameters help bring about exclusivity in beer. While wine has good years and bad years to distinguish its quality, beers don’t have that distinction.
“For the most part, if you’re plugging in the variables, you’re going to get a very similar beer,” Hicks said. “To be able to have a very limited schedule on things … it encourages a seasonality, but it also kind of does encourage that whole moment where it’s not like yesterday.”
Craft breweries utilize this by offering limited-batch beers or specially infused beers.
“Beer, along with cooking, it’s one of those things that you can consume and you can drink, but it is one of those really awesome forms of expression,” Hicks said.
Prizes include cash, gift certificates and a conical fermenter for the overall winner. This equipment will help the winner step up their homebrewing setup, said Matt Kilpatrick, brand manager for Uncorked sponsor AlaBev.
The winner’s beer will also be brewed at Avondale Brewery for the season. This aspect of the competition is a unique opportunity, Kilpatrick said, but it also allows the homebrewer to see the difference in a big brewery’s process.
“A lot of homebrewers, they have a lot of talent on their system,” Kilpatrick said. “So this is an opportunity for them to see the difference in a larger setup.”
Uncorked! On the Green
- Oct. 10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
- The Green at Ross Bridge
- Includes beer and wine sampling, as well as the AlaBev Master of the Brew competition.