Dave Anderson considers it shocking. The Mason, Ohio, resident had homebrewed only two beers in his life and his second batch is one of the latest winners in the Samuel Adams annual Longshot American Homebrew Contest.
His strawberry lager, appropriately named Strawberry Lager, is now on sale nationwide as part of a special Longshot six-pack that also features two other winning homebrew recipes.
"It’s a light lager with a strong strawberry aroma but not too strong of a flavor," said Anderson, 32, who works at the Samuel Adams Brewery in Cincinnati. "It still tastes like a beer. But you definitely get a strong aroma. I dry-hopped like three pounds of strawberries in the carboy. So when you open it, you’ll definitely smell strawberries but it doesn’t have a super strong strawberry taste."
Samuel Adams founder and brewer Jim Koch organized the Longshot contest years ago in homage to homebrewers. Each year, the company selects beers made by two homebrewers and one employee homebrewer from about 1,000 entries to release nationwide.
Anderson won the employee competition. He has worked at the Cincinnati brewery for more than five years, and recently made a move from packaging to the brewery side of the business. He now deals with the cold processing and filtering.
Anderson had entered the contest once before, making a chocolate bock in his kitchen. But the beer lacked enough chocolate character. That’s why he used three pounds of strawberries in his second attempt. He even worried that he went overboard. Apparently not.
He said he was shocked that he won because it was only his second attempt at brewing.
Anderson also admitted that his wife wasn’t a big fan of his homebrew hobby, especially with his carboy taking up so much space in the refrigerator. He also broke a shelf in the fridge. She wanted to toss out his beer equipment, but came around when he won the competition, he said.
The beer was brewed at the Cincinnati brewery and Anderson said it was scary working on his own brew. "I didn’t want to mess up my own beer," he said with a laugh.
The Longshot bottles are always a hoot because they feature an artist’s rendering of the winning brewer on the label.
"It’s pretty crazy," Anderson said about the label. "A little character of me on there. When we brewed it at the plant, I went over and looked at the bottle shop and you see a million bottles with your face on it, well not a million, but a ton of bottles with your face on it. It looks pretty funny. It’s pretty cool."
The other winners featured this year are: Zack Adams of Connecticut, who made Magnificent Seven, an imperial India pale ale; and James Schirmer of California, who made Beer Flower Wheat, a brew made with hibiscus.
Entries for the 2013 Longshot competition are due next month. For more details, click here.