Some of the biggest supporters of microbrewers is the homebrewing community. They as much as or more than others can really appreciate what goes into making craft beer. It also doesn't hurt that many a craft brewer started out as a homebrewer once upon a time. Conversely many microbreweries support the local homebrewing clubs. From allowing them to hold meetings, having brew days and allowing homebrewers to take some Wort home to brew beer to all sorts of things their is definetely a symbiotic relationship between these two groups. I think one of the coolest things that is done is the Pro-am contest held at the GABF every year. A home brew recipe is brewed by a craft brewer and entered into the contest. We have two local breweries that participate every year in Southern Star and Saint Arnold's, but the most famous of these is probably Sam Adam's Longshot series. Every year Sam Adams picks 3 winning recipes (one is always an employee, the other two are "at large" winner's), enters them into the GABF contest and releases them in mixed six pack's nationwide. It has to be pretty cool to go to your local store and see your face on a bottle of beer. Well this year's Longshot has shown up in my local Spec's so I picked up the six pack to see how they tasted. A couple of notes before I start 1) I had tasted these beers back at GABF, 2) In talking to the maker of DR8 (winner of the BBBB contest) I know that there are many things that can change between the small home brew batch and the larger batch released to the public.
Lemon Pepper Saison: Weighs in at 6.4% and brewed with lemon peel and grains of paradise this is the employee winner. It pours a pale golden yellow with a thin white head. Its spicey, yeasty, lemony with notes of vanilla on the nose. Very effervescent in the mouth, light bodied, citrusy, white pepper notes from the yeast I think. Very refreshing, and finishes dry. There is a slight tartness in the mid-palate maybe even some slight funkiness. A good beer that gets a B from me.
Mile High Barleywine: This one weighs in at a hefty 9.8% and is brewed with 6 malts. It pours a brownish ruby color with a quarter inch taupe colored head. The nose is hoppy, grapefruit, dark fruits, caramel malts. Full mouthfeel, very malty, rich, dried dark plums, raisins, figs, finishing with bitter grapefruit peel. Toffee. On the finish there is a metallic tang and astringency that is off putting. As it warms the alcohol becomes much more noticeable. This one gets a B- from me.
Old Ben Ale: This old ale weighs in at 9% and pours a dark reddish copper with a thick slightly off white head. Very malty on the nose, caramel, raisins, very little hop bitterness. Medium bodied a little lighter than expected. Fruity raisins, figs, grapes, sweet toffee, very caramel-y. Needs something to off set the sweetness. This one gets a C+ from me.