Homebrewer Tests Skills at America's Top Beer Festival

Novato's Alan Atha brewed a special batch with a veteran brewer in Farifax to take to the Great American Beer Festival and enter it in the pro-am competition.

Brewing crews from in Novato attend the Great American Beer Festival every year and are considered strong contenders for medals in the highly competitive blind tasting contests. Moylan’s has won dozens of ribbons at national and international competitions since it opened in 1995, and the team has high hopes for accolades this weekend at the festival in Denver.

However, a Novato homebrewer and entrepreneur is at the GABF as well, looking for a breakthrough. Alan Atha, who operates Beltane Brewing Co. out of his home in the downtown area, brewed a batch with veteran craft brewer Christian Kazakoff from Iron Springs Pub & Brewery in Fairfax and took the nectar to Denver. A featured aspect of GABF is the Pro-Am Competition, in which award-winning amateur craft brewers join with commercial breweries to pit their homebrew against others.

Atha, president of the Sonoma Beerocrats Homebrew Club, worked with Kazakoff on a Beltane entry called Luminesce Belgian Tripel. The effort of brewing it onsite at Iron Springs was documented by Justin Whitaker, another Beerocrats member, in this video on Vimeo.

The GABF is one of the world’s biggest events in beer — aside, perhaps, from Munich’s Oktoberfest. The event was first held in 1982 with one five-hour blind tasting session of the 24 beers entered. At this year’s three-day festival, there will be almost 18 hours of official tasting over four sessions, with 466 breweries in competition. Beers will be judged in dozens of vastly different styles, from light pilsners to hearty amber ales to super-potent barleywines.

Kazakoff has entered the competition several times and not yet come away with a coveted GABF medal. Iron Springs is entering 11 beers, which might sound like a lot but for a thriving brewpub it’s probably about average. from Healdsburg is entering 29 beers, for instance.

Other area breweries in the competition include Moylan’s, Petaluma’s and Larkspur's Marin Brewing Co. Each of them have won multiple GABF medals through the years, but Iron Springs is looking for a breakthrough.

You can watch a live stream of Saturday’s GABF awards ceremony online at noon Pacific time.

Atha said he hopes to find a permanent home for his brewing company sometime soon. Meantime, here is a rundown of the ales he’s making on a regular basis:

Rumplestiltskin Double IPA: 8.5 percent alcohol by volume. Highly hopped with Magnum, Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo and Citra hops with a hidden malt background.

Black Moria Double Black IPA: 9 percent alcohol. Bitter malt up front with chocolate and coffee and then a very nicely balanced hop bitterness behind using Chinook, Amarillo and Centennial hops.

Luminescence Trippel: 10 percent alcohol. Belgian Style Triple, golden in color, very light hoppiness and beautiful yeast flavor.

Paleo/Belgo Belgian Style Pale Ale: 6 percent alcohol. Light pale color with the addition of coriander and orange.

Find Beltane Brewing on Twitter.

Brian October 05, 2011 at 09:41 PM
Novato Patch photo theft update. Author finally responds, no apology, no resolution and now I have to wait for the Patch legal team. The fight goes on.
Thomas October 05, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Brian, then take it up with Patch and people like all internet copyright questions would do... and these things can take more than a couple of days to resolve. You come here with this whole malice intent thing with post spamming, but it looks like though the pictures in questioned were removed, so something is happening. Spamming the whole site with your contempt though is silly. Stop it, you looks silly.
Brian October 06, 2011 at 12:16 AM
@Thomas: I totally respect your point, but that's what it took to get someone's attention around here this afternoon. I emailed the author and contacted Patch.com support two days ago. What else was I suppose to do? Protesting is not silly and malice=evil, which this is not.
Steven Norwin October 06, 2011 at 03:10 AM
@Brian...You're a piece of work for even posting your complaints. Don't air your dirty laundry out in public, people may think you stink. Bit of advice next time - take the high road like the patch and keep it private between you and the Patch, the public really doesn't want to hear it!
Brian October 06, 2011 at 03:54 AM
@Steve: Your advice would have gotten me nowhere. I would have loved to keep this private, but the author and Patch.com wasn't responding to my emails. If I wouldn't have "aired my dirty laundry" as you speak, I wouldn't have even gotten a response. I don't like wasting my time doing this, but I was left with no choice if I wanted to be duly compensated for my work. The public needs to know that NovatoPatch.com infringes on people's rights and won't admit it! Don't you find that to be a problem since this website is providing you news? Their actions strike at the integrity of site, plain and simple.


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