Altoids Stout and Chipotle Mead: A Report from the National Homebrewers Conference

MINNEAPOLIS ―Once a year, brewmasters take a back seat to those who brew in the trenches (read: kitchens or garages). At the National Homebrewers Conference (NHC), organized by the American Homebrewers Association ― itself a subset of the Brewers Association ― hobbyists from around the country gathered this past weekend to attend instructional seminars, show off their homebrews, and generally geek out. Picture women in dirndls and men dressed as Paul Bunyan, discussing mashing temperatures, the effects of municipal water's pH balance's on their Maibocks, and the merits of welding one's own gravity-flow brew tree.

Anything goes as far as craft beer styles and ingredients these days, but that's entirely thanks to the hundreds of thousands of homebrewers unafraid to try something new. These brewers generally make beer in 5- to 15-gallon batches, thus making a failed batch (colloquially known as a “dumper”) a far less costly learning experience than those made on larger, commercial systems.

And just what were some of the homebrewed oddities poured during “Club Night,” the highlight of the conference?

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