As a party at a private residence where nothing was sold, the club’s event is clear of state law, and members and friends took full advantage of the chance to swap brews.
Shular’s impressive Perry pear cider and two others including a tart, 7.6-percent cherry cider held down one end of the spectrum. Several bottles of a marvelous smoked marzen anchored the heavier side of things, but most brews landed somewhere in the middle, including a spiced winter beer, He-Man Helles, a Jaded APA with Jade hops and a bottle of blueberry flavored beer. In an ice-filled tub near the door leading inside, a pack of Yuengling took up more real estate than some extra smoked marzen.
[pullquote]The Battleground Brewers Guild holds its next meeting on Feb. 17 at Craft City Sip-In in Greensboro at 7 p.m. The club is also organizing another homebrew demo at Triad Homebrew Supply in February. Check the group’s Facebook page for details.[/pullquote]
The selection underscored the diversity of the guild members’ interest and exhibited their talents — in a blind taste test, it would be near impossible to distinguish any of them from a commercially-brewed beer. And while some were collective endeavors by more than one member, most were solo efforts.
Even in the Bristol household.
Beth and Chris used to brew together more frequently, but Beth said that their approaches vary enough that she decided to strike out on her own. Chris, the club’s current president, isn’t inclined to use extract, and Beth isn’t interested in the longer process to make her own considering how long brewing already takes.
Brewers like Shular are quick to note there’s no “right way” to do it, and Beth has a blue ribbon from her first homebrew contest entry — a chocolate hazelnut stout inspired by her love of Nutella — a few years ago in Chapel Hill to prove it. She enjoys crafting beers with unique flavor profiles, and though a blood-orange wheat she tried didn’t come out well, a raspberry jalapeño wheat she made with a friend last summer fared better.
Though the back-porch setup was a temporary arrangement, the Bristols recently remodeled a room off the kitchen to be a bar, complete with a fridge with tap handles on the side, a bar built by another club member, stools and two televisions. Guests crowded into the room to watch an overtime battle in an NFL playoff game and took turns sampling the liquid mistletoe on draft.
Sometime after 11, Farnsworth broke out a few bottles to share, including a few highly sought after beers — known as “whales” — that she’d been saving. The Bristols grabbed some sample glasses so people could try the Black Damnation from De Struise Brouwers, a reserve series whiskey-barrel aged Fathead from Nebraska Brewing Co. and the Bestway Corner Porter from Natty Greene’s that several partygoers had never seen.
A small cluster formed in the kitchen by the brews, next to the equally delicious meatballs, cheesy bacon and potato nuggets and brown-ale toffee bars.
Shular just about lost it when the 120 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head came out. He insisted Henriksen and anyone else within reach try the hoppy beer, which Chris Bristol had stored long enough that it had begun to taste more like a barleywine when he broke it out. The party arrived at the peak moment to break this beer out, Shular insisted — any longer and this beer would’ve descended from the knife’s edge, deteriorating with time.
The Battleground Brewers Guild may be best known publicly for its Oktoberfest, Mai Fest in the spring and particularly its former Summertime Brews table. But it’s moments like this, with members joyfully sharing each other’s company and brewing artistry, that are the club’s biggest asset.