Every year Springfield Brewing Company gets together with the Homebrew ZOO – The Zymurgists “Home Brewing Society” of the Ozarks and along with a panel of judges, chooses one home brewed entry to recreate at our facility and enter in the Pro-Am competition held at the annual Great American Beer Festival.
This year’s winner is Chris Becker, whose Imperial IPA won Best of Show at the “1776: British Styles and their American Counterparts” competition held earlier this year and will be hitting the big leagues come September to compete against ninety-six breweries from across the country.
Becker has been brewing since 2012 and a member of the ZOO since March 2013. Becker found his way to brewing after moving to Springfield from Vermont and hooking up with our Pro-Am brewer from last year, Keith Wallace. Thanks to modern technology, Chris was able to reach out to Keith via Reddit on a cigar forum. Being new to the area, Keith suggested a local cigar shop, Just For Him, for Chris to try out and the two met to talk cigars and craft beer.
“We met up and smoked a few cigars and drank a little whiskey so I told him I had a bunch of beer from Vermont and did he want to come over later and hang out. He said I really hope you’re not a serial killer because you had me at beer.”
Not only are these two friends – but they even brewed a special barley wine to celebrate their birthdays, both in May.
“We’re both very competitive people. He likes to rub it in my face that he’s won at the GABF so since this is the second “Best of Show” that I’ve won in our competition I have to win at least a silver or better at the Great American Beer Fest or we’re still tied.”
Being from Vermont, Chris is inspired by one of his favorite home state breweries when brewing his own beers. Hill Farmstead Brewery is located in Greensboro and focuses on farmhouse styles like wine barrel aged saisons but what Becker most enjoys are their hoppy beers. Their “simple but with a ton of flavor” brewing style has made a big impact on how Chris approaches brewing.
“What they’ve done with the beers that I’ve tried is what really makes me strive to not overdue it with ingredients but to be good enough that the flavors you want are highlighted.”
That “true to tradition” style fits in perfectly with what we do at Springfield Brewing Company. Great beers with a fresh, clean taste and the best ingredients. Chris’s Imperial IPA was a perfect fit with a blend of Citra, Mosaic and Amarillo hops that makes for a dry and easy to drink beer with a lot of flavor.
Though Chris has only been brewing since 2012 he comes from a winemaking background and when he moved to Springfield started working as a distiller. His father owns Montpellier Winery, a small winery where Chris remembers spending more than a little time tilling fields for wine grapes and filling trellises.
We’re glad that Chris decided to combine his interest in beer and his background in the wine and whiskey industry and buy that first brew kit that would eventually take over his garage and result in the big, hoppy beer that balances lot of hop aroma with the perfect amount of bitterness.
The Great American Beer Festival is held September 24 – 26 with 96 entries competing for gold in the Pro-Am competition. Come grab a fresh Imperial IPA on tap at the brewery and try the beer we can’t wait to wow the judges with.