Best of the Bay Winners Announced

Congratulations to James Martini of Sedro-Wooley for taking best of show this year with his brown porter with toasted coconut and getting to take home the trophy mug to drink from proudly for the next year.  Also, congratulations to our People’s Choice award winner at this year’s award ceremony, Justin Bajema’s Kriek.  All the winners have been posted at


We had 185 entries to judge this year from 55 brewers.  8 different stewards assisted 25 judges in evaluating them and providing feedback over the course of 26 flights of judging.  We had 19 categories that we were able to hand out gold, silver, and copper awards out for.  54 entries came from brewers identifying themselves as being with the BHG (almost 30%) which I think is the best local participation we’ve had yet.  BHG members did quite well in taking home some hardware too which I’m quite proud of – 16 medals!

A big thanks again to everyone who donated time to help judge, steward, sort bottles, setup the awards ceremony, donated prizes, etc.  I’d like to specifically call out for their significant contributions to making this event happen – Neal Tognazzini, Andrew Richardson, Michael Gan, Erica & Craig Simons, Jason Mantello, Robert Arzoo, Kulshan Brewing, and Boundary Bay, though many many others pitched in as well.  I thought this year’s event went fantastically thanks to their efforts.

Best of the Bay Award Ceremony and Homebrew Festival


The Best of the Bay 2015 is happening this weekend and we’re going to find out who’s making the best homebrew in the Northwest!  As we’ve done every year, we’ll be following up the competition with a combination Award Ceremony and Homebrew Festival and all members of the Bellingham homebrewing community are invited.  We’ll be holding it again in Boundary Bay’s Annex Garden on the corner of Railroad Ave and E Maple St and the weather forecast is looking fantastic!  This year’s event will be Sunday, August 2 (day after the judging) from 11am to 3pm.

In addition to announcing winners and handing out coveted bung awards, BHG members will be serving homebrew and you’re welcome to bring a jockey box and keg if you’d like to share as well.  We’ll also be having people vote on their favorite beers and awarding People’s Choice awards towards the end.  There will also be non-alcoholic options and kids’ activities, so bring the whole family.  The event and homebrew are all free, but this does also serve as a fundraiser for the club, so please consider bringing a few bucks to purchase a commemorative taster glass, T-shirt, and/or raffle tickets.  There will also be food available to purchase.  

Whether you entered the competition or not, this is a great opportunity to support the club and congratulate the homebrewers that manage to brew beer good enough to take home the coveted gold, silver, and bronze bungs!  We hope to see you Sunday!

Best of the Bay 5 is coming

Mark your calendars, fire up your brew kettles.  The Best of the Bay is the finest homebrew competition north of Seattle and the 4th 5th edition is coming soon this summer.

The entry window for this year’s competition is July 1 – July 22.  You’ll be able able to drop off your entry bottles during that window at a few different locations including North Corner Brewing Supply in Bellingham and Northwest Brewing Supply in Burlington.  Dues paying members will receive an entry discount as part of their benefits package.

Judging will take place July 31 and Aug 1, with the BHG’s famous combined award ceremony and homebrew festival immediately following on Sunday Aug 2.  Mark your calendars for that one as you’re definitely going to want to be there to drink some homebrew, share a keg of your finest, and congratulate our winners.

For details (some are still being worked out) and to register your entries come July, head to  To register entries you will need to create a new account even if you’ve entered in previous years.

To get updates on competition details as they become available (locations, etc) as well as other club news, make sure you’re signed with the BHG email list at!forum/BellinghamBeer.

Big Brew Recap

What a fantastic day for a Big Brew!  Under warm sunny skies we had 13 different brewing systems going simultaneously in Chris’s front yard.  They ranged from Marty’s 2 gallon fully automated PicoBrew and Justin’s 2.5 gallon 3-tier stand, up through Ian’s 10 gallon batch on Sir Ballington and Michael and Chris D’s 20 gallon pseudo-partigyle.  I figure we made about 80 gallons of homebrew at the event, with 9 of the 13 batches opting for trying their hand at the BHG 6th Anniversary Wee-Heavy.  Another dozen or two people stopped by throughout the day to check out the scene, some of whom were using it as good research in plotting future system upgrades.

A big thank you to Chris Brehm for hosting us again, Jason Mantello for providing us with food, Frank and Brad at Aslan for providing a ton of fresh yeast, and everyone who made the effort to jam their equipment into cars and trailers and put the Big in Big Brew Day!

More pictures available at



AHA Big Brew 2015

2015-Big-Brew-PosterJoin the Bellingham Homebrewers Guild to celebrate National Homebrew Day with a big group brew on Saturday, May 2. Come show off your equipment and brew a batch or just hang out and enjoy some delicious homebrew with us.

The Guild will provide lunch, you bring some homebrew and/or snacks to share. This will be an all day event, so stop by any time and join the fun. Hope to see you there!

Ready to Brew Your Own Beer?

Thinking about brewing your own beer at home? Not sure where to start? Looking for some helpful advice and tips from people who have been in your situation? Join us at the next Bellingham Homebrewers Guild meeting on April 9 at 6:00 PM at the Chuckanut Brewery on Holly Street.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

At the meeting you’ll find homebrewers at every stage of the craft – from beginners to folks with 20 years or more of experience. You’ll find brewers who make great tasting beer in their kitchens to those who have a garage full of equipment that looks like a scaled-down version of a commercial brewery.

What is the favorite pastime of Guild members? Making and drinking beer, of course. A close second is talking about beer. Join us at an upcoming Guild meeting and let us help you get started!

Malt Samples from SVM

Bob and Wayne from Skagit Valley Malting attended the February club meeting to help judge the competition beers made with their malt. They also brought four varieties of malted barley for us to sample.

The first, Copeland, was the only sample barley that is recommended by the American Malting and Barley Association as a malting barley. The AMBA approves only 6 to 12 new barley varieties each year. Bob described this Skagit-grown Copeland as “Copeland enhanced,” a term used by a buyer from a major craft brewer.

The second sample of malt was from a variety called Alba which was bred at Oregon State University. This was was tested by the AMBA, but did not make it to their recommended list. Bob told us that the flexibility in SVM’s systems allows them to malt this variety quite successfully.

The third sample from SVM was a hull-less barley malt that they been call “Purple Egyptian.” The actual name of the variety is Obsidian and it originated in the headwaters of the Nile River. This grain is being revived by grain historian Dr. Richard Scheuerman from Seattle Pacific University. Sadly, there are very limited amounts of this malt available as seed is still being developed.

The fourth sample was barley with the experimental moniker of NZ-151. This is another barley that was tested by the AMBA and rejected which SVM have malted successfully. NZ-151 is being developed at the Washington State University Research Center by Brook Brouwer as part of his PhD thesis. Brook and Bob created a SMaSH test brew with it and found yet another different flavor profile in both the malt and the beer than in any of the other malts we sampled.

What makes Skagit Valley grains so special? According to Bob, “We are fortunate that here in the Skagit Valley we get plumper, lower protein grain than is available elsewhere due to our soil and microclimate. The USDA has rated Skagit’s soil in the top 2% most productive in the world.  That soil combined with our Salish Coast microclimate west of the Cascades between Eugene, Oregon and central Vancouver Island, has produced the world record yield for both wheat and barley. These crops must be planted every few years in rotation to break disease cycles and recondition the soil. Historically local farmers have not been excited about growing it because it was typically sold for low returns in the commodity feed markets. They are now excited about having some of their necessary rotation crops selling for a premium price since we can now add value to them by producing world class malt.”

It was great to meet Bob and Wayne and to discuss brewing possibilities with them. We look forward to more interesting and unique malts from Skagit Valley Malting in the near future.