Local man wins brewing contest

Published 4:35 pm Monday, July 12, 2021

A Farmville man’s hobby of home brewing has won him the opportunity to have a brewery craft his beer so others may enjoy it.

Beginning this month, Midnight Brewery in Rockville will start brewing Sam Bowles Molly Malone Porter.

According to Bowles, his beer is scheduled to be on tap in August at the Midnight Brewery taproom and will be distributed to some restaurants and taprooms across the Richmond area.

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Bowles was the first-place winner of a brewing contest held in June, with his beer taking the top spot among seven other craft brew styles.

Bowles explained competition was between traditional English styles of beer that are traditionally very mild: British bitters, ordinary bitter, best bitter, strong bitter and English porter.

Bowles said his brew is a take on history, remembering a time a beer shaped our modern way of life.

“English porter is an homage to Arthur Guinness and the porter that shaped the Guinness brand and Dublin, Ireland as we know it today,” Bowles said. “Arthur Guinness brewed the porter in the 1770s to be shipped to England and make up for how heavily taxed the beer was in Ireland. Nothing deterred Guinness as he set up his brewery at St. James Gate in what is now Dublin, Ireland. By 1799, Guinness decided to only brew porters and nothing else.”

According to Bowles, the beers selected for the competition were selected by Trae Cairns, owner of Midnight Brewery, primarily due to their history in shaping our world as we know it.

“In the 18th and 19th centuries, the water was not potable and would make the dock workers sick or worse, die if they drank it. The answer to this was beer,” Bowles said. “One of the main processes of making beer is to boil water. Boiling purifies the water and allows that water to be consumed. Additionally, the added alcohol created after fermentation will also purify whatever is left in the water and will allow it to be safely consumed. These beers are famous for having very low alcohol content which allowed the porters and dockworkers to consume the beer throughout the day without getting drunk or otherwise inhibiting their work.”

Bowles got his start in brewing as a part of the homebrew club Mentoring Advanced Standards of Homebrewing (MASH).

According to Bowles, every quarter, his homebrew club holds an in-club competition, usually partnered with a brewery in the area, for members to compete and receive feedback on recipe formulation, brewing process and other aspects of the hobby.

“I do not think I would have won this competition if it wasn’t for the experiences and knowledge I have gained from MASH.” Bowles said. “Without them, their lessons at our meetings and our talks about brewing techniques and experiences and help along the way, I do not believe this beer would have won this competition. The English porter is easily one of my favorite beer styles, and I appreciate every brewer and everyone in MASH who has given me pointers and information to elevate my brewing to where it is today.”