2018 was a big year for Mecca Grade. I thought about putting together a list of my favorite beers, events, or even predictions for 2019, but figured your inbox might still be flooded with everyone else’s. Instead, I’ve been reflecting on the past year (beer helps), and what made it so awesome. The common denominator? For me, 2018 was the “Year of the Homebrewer.”
While we’ve seen a surge in use of our malt at the commercial level, the excitement at the homebrew level has been off the charts and deserves to be noted. I think it’s fair to say that many of us got our start perched over a propane burner on the backporch. Homebrewers can afford to be more experimental, make styles of beer that aren’t “commercially viable,” or even resurrect historic methods of brewing and fermenting.
One trend I especially enjoy is the toppling of sacred cows: Carapils for head retention, anyone? This past year, I’ve really enjoyed growing our relationships with Denny and Drew of Experimental Brewing as well as Marshall and the crew of Brülosophy …fantastic examples of brewers not beholden to the party line.
From the very beginning, I’ve wanted to get our malt into the hands of as many people who can experiment with it as possible. To be honest, I do still cringe a bit when Brülosophy uses our malt in their “Short and Shoddy” experiments…but…if I didn’t truly believe in our malt, I wouldn’t put it out there to be ran through the ringer. I’m proud that our malt is a wildly unique product. As I’ve said before: there is no reason to be growing the same varieties and malting the same way as everyone else. Period.
We had a blast at the National Homebrewers Convention this year in Portland, OR. We met so many new and old friends and were overwhelmed by the amount of both support and curiosity in our malt. To cap the week off, our friend Greg Young won the coveted Ninkasi Award for accumulating the most amount of wins at the national level. Follow Greg on Instagram @brickandironbeerworks and check out this link for his Gold-winning Mexican Lager recipe which uses 2/3 Pelton and 1/3 flaked corn.
We’ve also been proud to sponsor the Oregon State Homebrewer of the Year Award (OSHBOTY) going on three years now. The goal OSHBOTY is to promote PNW-based BJCP-sanctioned beer judging events and award the Oregon and SW-Washington homebrewers that regularly win them.
When the winners were announced this year…and I knew that 4 of the top 5 brewers used our malt…I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to seem like I was tooting my own horn. Well, the cat’s out of the bag now. We appreciate your support and honestly couldn’t do what we do without it - I doubt that I would want to either.
Finally, I think I am the most excited about our inaugural “Brewing Man” retreat (May 25-27, 2019). We are working with a fantastic group of brewers and distillers to plan a fun, educational, and hands-on experience like no other. Stay tuned as we roll out more information on it, and again, thank you for your support and patience.
2018 reinforced for us that, yes, while the best beer is made using the best ingredients…it needs those willing to take a chance on estate malt to make it happen. Let us never lose this curiosity, and in 2019, let’s push the envelope on how great beer can be.