SOBA Nelson Home Brew Competition

Nelson SOBA Home Brew Competition

Bill Fennell fills us in on what he and the organisers of the SOBA Nelson Home Brew Competition learnt from their first home brew competition.


Well, I have to say, for our first ever SOBA Nelson home brew competition, it went quite well. We got off to a slow start, having to bag’n’tag 31 entries! We then had blind tasting by numbers. All attendees filled out and turned in judging sheets, voting for their top three favourites. The top three selections were then tallied up to give our 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. There were four categories (Ale, Lager, Stout and other), but all the winners turned out to be Ales.

Seeing as how this was the first time we’ve ever done this, it was pretty much a learn-by-doing exercise. There are quite a few things we’ll do differently next time – and yes, there will be a ‘next time’!

We decided to put this on for a few different reasons. First, we wanted to provided a relaxed, laid-back event where those who had never entered a competition before would feel welcome and encouraged. Second, we through it would be a good way to raise awareness of SOBA and to grow our local membership numbers.

We got some really great feedback on how to make the next one even better. Advice included: having tastings by category, then picking a top two from the winners; beers coming out in a slow and consistent manner; and some plain snacks, like bread or crackers, with the beers might help.’

As organised as we thought we were, we still missed a couple of things that our venue sponsor, The Free House (big thanks for Mic, Eelco and everyone else at The Free House that helped us pull this off!), helped us out with: an additional bucket to rinse tasting cups in, the jugs we were able to use to decant beers into (a definite must), towels to clean up the wet floor with…I’m sure I’m leaving something out, but you get the picture.

Speaking of sponsors, SOBA Nelson put up a one-year membership to SOBA as the prize for the first-place winner. New Zealand Hops (special thanks to Doug Donelan) provided great prizes for our three winners, a cap, t-shirt and packs of new variety hops!

The most unusual/interesting entry, from Takehito Maeda, was a Cloudy Sake; everybody really seemed to enjoy it… it’s a pity it didn’t win.  Well done, Take!

In summary, it was a great event and an excellent learning experience. We couldn’t have pull it off as well as we did if it wasn’t for the dedication, commitment, blood, sweat and tears (and graphic design prowess) of Matt Downer, one of our newest SOBA Nelson members – many thanks Matt!

Words by Bill Fennell

And the winners were…
1st Christian Galbraith – Ale
2nd Paul Dunlop – Ale
3rd Peter Bywater – Raspberry Ale


  1. I have 5 crates of large beer bottles. Can anyone make use of them.

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