Vicksburg’s very own ‘Beer Wars’

Published 8:48 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2018

By Kristy Sturgill

Special to The Vicksburg Post

Key City Brewing Co. organized the inaugural “Key City Summer Homebrew Competition 2018,” and it was hosted at Cottonwood Public House recently.

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Competitors were judged by Zack Erickson, Owner of Key City Brewing Co., Jon Weimorts, general manager at Cottonwood Public House, and Brandon “Biggs” Blacklidge, sales and distribution at Lucky Town Brewing Company.

“We are looking for something well made and something interesting that we could see serving at Key City Brewing Co.,” said Erickson.

Blacklidge said he was looking for a well-crafted beer that’s technically proficient and a good drinker.

Shelby Rayner, the winner of the first competition, met their expectations with his single malt, single hop, Smash IPA named “Hoptimus Prime Did Have a Beard?”

“It was the first time I made the recipe,” said Rayner. “I worked with a friend, and I told him I need something kind of citrusy and enjoyable for the summer weather.”

His prize is a Wolverine/Hulk-style trophy and the opportunity to scale his recipe, brew it with Key City Brewing Co. and serve it on tap to patrons at Cottonwood Public House.

Contestants came from all over Mississippi. Two participants are friends who brew together in Diamondhead.

“I was always interested in brewing, and then I got an all grain brewing kit from Bed Bath and Beyond,  from my wife for Christmas,” Scott Milroy, a participant, said. “The style she got me was an IPA, and I’m not crazy about IPAs because I’m not big on really hoppy beers. So, I basically tweaked the recipe by getting online and looking to see what would be good. Right from the start, even with a kit, I was starting to tinker with it myself.”

Milroy’s friend, Martin Konrad, has been brewing for two years. He was also competing and has aspirations to start a brewery like Erickson.

“My wife bought me the ‘Brooklyn Brewing: How to Make a One Gallon Batch.’ It was a book on how to brew on your stove,” said Konrad. “I thought making beer was magical, and there was no way I could do this, and then for Christmas, she bought me the grain, and kind of forced me to use the book, so it’s her fault. ”

Jay Lindsay, an unofficial president of the Delta Brews — the Vicksburg homebrewing club — said competitions give brewers an opportunity to show off their recent work to a wider audience beyond their friends, family and club members.

“When we can come in and participate, and we have the chance to be able to get our stuff on tap here. We crafted it, put a lot of work into it, and we have a chance show off what we’ve done,” said Lindsay.

Erickson hosted the event because he wants to support the homebrewing community in the state.

“I started as a homebrewer, and it is important to me to build that community and encourage people to make beer,” he said.

Erickson said he plans on hosting a similar event every quarter, and is currently working on a new competition this fall.