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Libertyville Festival Adds Home-Brew Competition

The North Shore Wine Beer Cigar Food Festival will be held from 3 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Brainerd Community Center field.

As commercial brewers again prepare to fill the tents at this year’s North Shore Wine, Beer, Cigar and Food Festival, organizers are bringing a new addition: a home-brew beer contest.

“Small local brewers are becoming more and more popular,” said Fred Losch, owner of Losch Beverage Co., and one of the contest organizers and judges. “We thought presenting them would draw more people to the festival.”

Contestants must pay a $5 entry fee, register online, and drop off two bottles of their brews at between Aug. 8 and 18.

The best beer will be chosen based on blind judging at the start of the festival.

“We don’t know who the brewer is or where the beer is from,” said Mickey Finn’s brew master Greg Brown. “We only know what style it is, and then determine how close it is to being that specific style.”

Anything infected, sour, or bad will be rejected automatically, according Brown. The winning brewer will receive an authentic Oktoberfest festival table and benches.

For tips on brewing your own beer, watch:

Winner Featured at Mickey Finn's

In addition, the winning recipe will be brewed commercially at Mickey Finn’s. Brown said he will brew one batch, about 20 kegs. The recipe also may be adjusted to fit his brewing process.

“The beer will be on tap for around three weeks,” Brown said. “It depends on the beer. Dark beers sell slower because people usually don’t prefer it this time of year, so it may be on tap longer.”

For every pint of the winning brew sold at Mickey Finn’s, a dollar will go to the . Foundation Treasurer John Snow hopes the event will raise $500 to $1,000, which will go toward a larger fundraising effort to pay for restoring the Brainerd Community Center. In total, Snow hopes the festival will raise $20,000.

More Judges Needed

Organizers still are looking for two to three more guest judges from other local breweries. Judges include Losch, Brown, Bruce Dirr, manager of the Tighthead Brewery in Mundelein, and Rich Madole, manager of The Tavern in the Town, a home-brew veteran, and a nationally certified beer judge.

So far, eight beers have entered, and organizers anticipate more. Madole looks forward to the variety at the contest.

“Commercial brewers make beer to sell. There’s paperwork, taxing, marketing, and data,” Madole said. “Home brewers make beer to drink. You’re just basically trying to have fun.”

Keep it Sterile

At the same time, Madole urges contestants to keep their fun within set guidelines.

“The biggest problem most home brewers have is keeping things sterile and clean. The other is recipe formulation,” Madole said. “If you can master the two, you can pretty much do anything.”

The festival will be held from 3 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Brainerd field. For more information, visit: www.NorthShoreWineBeerFest.com.

For more information regarding the home brew contest, visit: www.NorthShoreWineBeerFest.com/HomeBrew.html.

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