Three physical therapists and amateur beer makers from Central Kentucky have won the seventh annual Kentucky Ale Brew-Off, organized by Alltech's Lexington Brewery and Distilling Co.
Alex Brenner of Lexington and B.J. Saunders and Matt Armentano of Georgetown accepted first place for their black India pale ale recipe before a small, joyful happy-hour crowd Tuesday at Alltech's Shrewsbury Hall Pub.
"It's an amazing feeling to win," Brenner said. "We are all friends and work together. Matt has been brewing since 2002, and I joined him in 2010. B.J. came in a little later. Once we got into the swing of things, we started brewing and experimenting with different beer. It's a passion and a hobby. ... This is fun."
Brenner was at a Lexington Legends baseball game when he ran into a marketer who told him about the Brew-Off. His team got into the contest at the last minute.
There were 17 competitors in the Brew-Off, which began last week.
"We used standard score sheets, small beer samples and two groups of certified brewing judges to pick the final four choices," said Jeremy Markle, an Alltech sales manager and one of the Brew-Off organizers. "The judges then come together to select the winner."
Entries were judged on their appearance, mouth feel, aroma and flavor.
Runners-up were Ben Shelton for his American amber ale, and Patrick Bolzenius for his American pale ale. Both are from Lexington.
The winning trio will receive an official name and logo for their black IPA before it is scaled up and manufactured by Alltech this summer. The beer is to be distributed at local markets. The team also wins a trip to Denver in October to enter the 2013 Pro-Am Competition at the Great American Beer Festival.
"Our future plans are in progress," Saunders said. "We plan to start small. We would eventually like to retire from being physical therapists and open a small brewery, but we are going to take it one step at a time."