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Red states and ‘brew’ states: Capitol Hill staffers take home trophies in homebrew contest

The American Homebrewers Association awarded winners Wednesdays in the third annual "Capitol Hill Staff Homebrew Competition." All told, 22 foamy, hoppy creations were submitted by Hill staffers to an elite panel of certified beer judges and professional brewers.

WASHINGTON — Political battles are often brewing on Capitol Hill. But behind the scenes, many congressional staffers are brewing up something a bit more saporous than a budget deal.

The American Homebrewers Association awarded winners Wednesdays in the third annual “Capitol Hill Staff Homebrew Competition.” All told, 22 foamy, hoppy creations — inducing a black IPA, a Scottish ale and an American pale ale — were submitted by Hill staffers to an elite panel of certified beer judges and professional brewers.

Winners were awarded in several categories. The overall champion was Pierce Wiegard, a staffer with the office of Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, for his Black IPA.

Staffers for D.C.-area lawmakers also cleaned up. Staff members for Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer took home first-, second- and third-place trophies, respectively, in various categories. (See full list of winners below)

“This is the type of brewing battle we like to see on Capitol Hill,” said Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association, in a statement. “This competition is a great example of how beer is bipartisan and brings people together. The annual Hill Staff Homebrew Competition is a fun way to tap into the collaborative — and often competitive — spirit of homebrewers in the Beltway. Congratulations to this year’s winners and thank you to all those who entered into the competition.”

U.K. and Belgian ales

  • First Place: Scottish Export Ale, Gray Maxwell, Office of Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)
  • Second Place: Belgian Golden Strong Ale, Michael Pinkerton, Office of the Senate Finance Committee
  • Third Place: Saison, Claudia Urrabazo and Yuri Beckelman, Americus Homebrewers Association, Office of Democratic Whip, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD, 5th District)

Bitter American and European ales

  • First Place: Black IPA, Pierce Wiegard, Office of Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
  • Second Place: New England IPA, Deborah and Dean Haynie, Office of Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
  • Third Place: American Pale Ale, James Johnson, Office of Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ, 6th District)

Spiced and wood beer

  • First Place: Sweet Stout, Josh Caplan, Office of the Senate Budget Committee
  • Second Place: Rauchbier, Eric Lausten, DC Homebrewers, Office of Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL, 3rd District)
  • Third Place: Sweet Stout with peanut butter and cocoa nibs, Ann Tumolo, Office of Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH, 2nd District)


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