If you were to take a time machine (or possibly a Delorian) back a few decades, you’d probably be pretty thirsty… Reach for a beer, and unfortunately you would find only a few dozen breweries operating inside the United States. Back then, the American palate was most familiar with beer prized for its less offensive qualities, as opposed to its more adventurous formulations. Fortunately for all of us, today there are more than 2,000 breweries pumping out new chocolate stouts, doppelbocks, black IPAs, and many other craft styles.
So many of the breweries and well-loved craft beers of today can find their roots in home brewing. What was once considered a complicated, antiquated practice is now an increasingly popular pastime – particularly in the company of the younger homebrewers who, unlike their parents and elders, were raised in a world awash with unconventional ales and lagers. This younger generation is also uncharacteristically patient: many don’t mind finding the time (sometimes more than a year to ferment, condition, and age) to make their own. As we would come to learn, Jeff Kruszyna is very much a part of this growing generation.
It’s not surprising then that along with many new homebrewers, many would look to friendly competition to grow their communities, enhance their knowledge and show off the fruits of their labor. Now in its 6th year, the New York City Home Brewers Guild held its annual Homebrew Alley competition this past January right here in Brooklyn, NY. Hundreds of different homebrews were entered, with each one judged independently with respect to their style. Of those many entries, the nearly 30 first place homebrews proceeded onwards to be judge by a designated Brewmaster. This year, Sixpoint’s own Brewmaster Jan Matysiak was invited to offer his own judgement for the hallowed “Brewmaster’s Choice Award.”
Upon Jan’s final selection, Jeff Kruszyna proudly claimed this title and, according to Jan, “won by just a hair” with his American Barleywine entered in the Strong Ale category. On top of earning the clout and admiration of his peers, the real prize here came in the form of an opportunity to brew a 15 bbl batch of the winning recipe at Sixpoint’s Redhook Brewery.
Brewing began this past week with Jeff on hand to take part in the process. An obviously special day for the winner, Head Brewer Pete Dickson said he “had a great time working with the originator of the recipe. A fun day of collaboration.” NYCHG veteran Chris Cuzme was also present for the brew.
The aptly named “Old Redhooker” will be available at select NYC bars and pubs as soon as the maturation and aging process is complete. Check back for an update as to when and where you can sample this award winning homebrew. This was one small step for beer, but one giant leap for Jeff Krusyna. Cheers!