Homebrewers go head-to-head in St. Albans

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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) The who's who of Vermont's craft beer industry gathered at 14th Star Brewery in St. Albans, for the 4th annual Make the Cut Homebrew Challenge. The room of tasters helped decide which two homebrews were selected for a chance to have their beer distributed throughout the region.

Judges included restaurant and bar managers, craft brew experts and even members of the media, including Channel 3's Darren Perron.

“We give them nine or ten beers to go through, and each table puts through two of their favorites,” said Co-Organizer Ryan Chaffin.

Sas Stewart of Stonecutter Sprits breaks down what the judges are looking for.

“We first start with the aromas, we’ll look at the appearance or colors, we'll delve into flavor, the last part we think about is the mouth feel,” she said.

Beers that move on through the first round of the competition are chosen from each table. A master panel of judges selects the two finalists.

“Vermonters are very passionate about their beer. I've been lucky to be in the beer business for almost 17 years so I came in it when it was really popular and it's even more popular now, as it should be,” said Chaffin.

According to the Brewer's Association, Vermont ranks 1st in the country with almost 11 breweries per 100,000 adults

“The beer industry is second to none when it comes to Vermont beer, were known all over the world for it,” Chaffin said.

Craft beer has been growing in the state year after year, and with the excise tax bill being cut in half, thanks to the GOP tax bill, smaller breweries like 14th Star will start reaping the benefits.

“Should be pretty substantial savings for us for the year so we can invest in some other projects were working on,” said 14th Star Brewmaster Dan Sartwell.

After many glasses were raised, the finalists were chosen. Those brewers will be announced this week. Their beer will be featured at bars and restaurants across the state this summer. The public will then decide the winner, who gets $1,000, and a batch of their beer brewed at 14th Star to be sold in local craft beer stores.