As has been widely documented by now, Bend is a fairly marvelous place to grab a pint. What may not be so obvious to the casual visitor is that Central Oregon is fertile breeding ground for homebrewers, hardy men and women willing to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment and endless weekends of their time in the quest for the perfect beer, the Holy Grail of fermentation, sure to keep all their buds satisfied during marathon college-football viewing sessions.
With any homebrewing scene, there are always competitions—and Silver Moon Brewing's latest, a beer-laden, knock-down, drag-out kicking off this weekend, is the highlight of this fall. Why? Because, in addition to $250 and authentic Greenwood Avenue street cred, the winner gets to brew a beer on SMB's system and watch it go on sale.
Given Silver Moon Brewing's roots as Bend's first homebrew supply shop in 2000, their sponsorship is little surprise. "[Former brewmaster] Tyler West was involved with the Central Oregon Homebrewers Organization," brewer Aaron Hofferber told the Source, "He even served as president at one point. Brett Thomas, another former brewer, was also president. And me, too; I served as COHO president for two years before coming here."
The last Silver Moon competition (open to all Oregon residents) was a free-for-all, allowing for nearly any style of beer entry. The winner: Cosmic Ape IPA, a powerful ale that used Galaxy and Citra hops to wondrous effect. But for this contest, as head brewer Jeff Schauland explained, Silver Moon Brewing restricted entries to the American Homebrewers Association's "light hybrid beer" category—cream ales, blonde ales, or Kölsch-style ales. "If we opened it up to any crazy beer," he said, "trying to replicate that on the production system would be difficult and/or expensive, in that we can't get big quantities of a lot of hops homebrewers have access to."
The SMB gang will judge several dozen entries from across Oregon behind closed doors Saturday afternoon, with the top three entries announced at the bar at 6 pm. The winner will be announced Saturday, Nov. 8 during Silver Moon's One Beard to Rule Them All event. What are they looking for in a potential gold medalist? The perfect light ale, a style that's notorious for not allowing margin for error. "I'm looking for clean, flawless beers," Hofferber said. "This is a style that doesn't stray far from the box, but that kind of cleanliness in a cream ale or Kölsch exists only in a really narrow window."