You notice two things right away on a tour of the microbrewery at Twain’s Billiards and Tap in Decatur with brewers David Stein and Chase Medlin: one, their work is fun. And two, well, it’s work.
Chase, who has worked at Twain’s for two years, and David, who joined the team as Head Brewer in December (though he doesn’t care for the title — “we both work our asses off”), are celebrating how much fun and work brewing can be with their First Annual Light vs. Dark Homebrew Competition, which is open for submissions through June 25.
The winners of both the best light beer (golden to amber) and the best dark beer (red to black) will get the opportunity to spend a day brewing at Twain’s with David and Chase. Then, their creations will be served on tap to the public until they’re gone.
“The idea was really to simply give homebrewers an opportunity to showcase their beer on a larger scale,” says David, acknowledging that microbrewing is just a bigger version of homebrewing. “The process is very similar, just using different equipment.”
“Since we both started as homebrewers, we thought it would be exciting for a homebrewer to have the opportunity to do what we do,” adds Chase.
Because of their beginnings, homebrewing is, as David admits, “close to [their] heart.” They brewed with friends or by themselves, but they have met many homebrewers who have groups of 15 or 20 and get together every week to brew. They’re hoping all types will enter the competition.
The only restriction on the competition is that it must be all-grain, to fit the equipment at Twain’s, and the beer must come with “a recipe to back it up,” David says, noting that they will be looking for recipes that will “translate well to [the Twain’s] system.”
Participants must submit three bottles of their beer, which should be labeled with the style of the beer and, preferably, a name for it. David, Chase and others from Twain’s will judge, along with guest judges. The beers will be brown-bagged in order to keep it anonymous.
The winners will have the opportunity to test out Twain’s equipment, which creates the freshest beer possible. “We don’t have to keg any of our beer. It all goes into these serving tanks, and we’ve got nine of them. And we carbonate it in these tanks and then it goes through these lines directly to the back of the bar,” David says, pointing to beer-filled hoses running through a hole in the wall, literally straight to the tap.
It doesn’t get any fresher than that.