Barleywine Wins Best of Show

Best of Show samples are poured before the final tasting. Nine beers made it into the final tasting.

Tell people you were drinking beer from 9 am until mid-afternoon and they might think something is wrong with you. However, if you are judging a homebrew competition, that’s your job.

Eight of us gathered in a back room of the Peninsula Pulse on the morning of Saturday, June 14, and everyone was gung-ho to get started on the 59 entries.

The judges were:

• Jason Johnson of the Manty Malters in Manitowoc. Jason has been brewing beer since his wife bought him a kit in 2000 and has since gone on to blog about beer ( and become a certified judge through the American Homebrewers Association Beer Judge Certification Program. He is also the author of Roasted: A Homebrewers Guide To Home Roasting Grain. Jason brought a wealth of information and insight to the table.

• Justin Minikel of Oak Creek, Wis., was a returning judge. He has been brewing since 2007 and maintains that is not a hobby but an obsession for him. He’s a fan of the malty side of beers – porters, stouts and brown ales. He was making his second appearance as a judge at the Door County Homebrew Championship.

• Michael Sorenson of Milwaukee also returned for his second stint as judge. He has been brewing for five years and is a competitive brewer who has won competitions at the Wisconsin State Fair, Green Bay Titletown Competition and the Door County Homebrew Championship.

• Sam Keolling, assistant brewer at Shipwrecked in Egg Harbor, returned for his second year of judging and offered a professional brewer’s take on the samples.

• Dan Roherty, homebrewer and beer fan from Appleton, Wis., made his first appearance as a judge. “I have been a casual homebrewer for about 25 years, attempting many different styles while learning enough to know there is no limit to beer knowledge. I continue to search for great beers around the state and nation, many coming from homebrewers and microbrewers.”

• Joan Stoddard also made her first appearance as a judge. She lives and works in Menasha, Wis., serving great beers from around the world at Club Tavern.

And me. My qualifications? I write about beer.

Seven states were represented in the 3rd annual Door County Homebrew Championship, held in conjunction with the Door County Beer Festival.

Judges assemble the 59 entries into categories before the grueling task of sampling begins. Four of the judges are shown here, from left, Byron Burrier, Joan Stoddard, Jason Johnson and Sam Koelling.

Entries came from as far away as Alaska (three), California (three), Ohio (three), Pennsylvania (two) and Virginia (two). Eighteen entries came from Illinois and 28 came from Wisconsin, with only one entrant from Door County.

Rich Wolter of Arlington Heights, Ill., was crowned with Door County wild hops from the Ridges Sanctuary during the Door County Beer Festival on June 14 for winning Best of Show in the Door County Homebrewing Championship.

Out of 59 entries in a wide range of categories, the eight judges chose nine beers for the final Best of Show judging. Ray’s Barleywine easily took top honors. Judges scored Ray’s Barleywine with 90 out of 100 points (two judges each scoring it with 45 points). They thought it was a great example of the style.

Runner-up was an American pale ale by Ismael Zavala of Chicago. His beer earned 78 out of 100 points (40 from one judge and 38 from the other). One of the judges called it an “excellent” American pale ale.

Coming in third was an Irish red ale from Shannon Speight of Sylvania, Ohio. Judges said there were nice caramel and toffee notes and good body. They rated it an 80 out of 100 (40 each from the two judges).

The six other beers that made it into the final judging flight were:

• Citrus Mace, a Wit beer submitted by Shannon Speight of Sylvania, Ohio (she had two beers in the final flight, and took third place with her Irish red);

• Willow’s Flight, an American IPA submitted by Evan Sorenson of Middleton, Wis.

• Bristlecone Berliner Weiss, submitted by Sam Weber of Hartland, Wis.

• Terrestrial Tripel, a Belgian Tripel by Michael Aube of Mundelein, Ill.

• Oh Fudge! Stout entered in the Specialty beer category, by Roger Sorenson of Madison, Wis.

• Imperial Farmhouse Ale by John Mielke of Waukesha, Wis.