Beer expert, classically trained brewer, beverage
raconteur, and popular bartender, Jeff Levine can
now add another title to his description - New
Jersey State Fair Champion!
Jeff won an unprecedented two medals at the
recent 2007 fair. This was the first time he ever
entered this prestigious competition in which he
faced over 100 of the state's best home brewers.
While that would be a bit intimidating to most, Jeff
said " I actually entered this particular contest
because I had some beers ready at the right time.
It turned out to be an exciting, fun experience."
Jeff described his blue ribbon championship
entry, called Maui Wowi, as "an American pale
ale, HOPPY!!! Citrusy. I don't keep good notes
as to Original or Final Gravity or alcohol content
when I'm home brewing. It's more fun to trust my
intuitive judgment when I brew at this level." He
went on to say, "my second entry was called
Magically Delicious Wit. It was a beer with great
"The pale ale recipe is one Ive been brewing and
slowly evolving for years; the wit recipe is from
Dan Soboti (owner of Gaslight Brewery). It's only
the second time I've brewed it."
While many of the entrants in the contest boasted
of having the most updated equipment, Jeff
described his as "a guerrilla brewing system that
has evolved over the years. I use kegs which
were borrowed from big breweries that I have
converted for my hot liqueur tank and kettle. I use
an Igloo cooler for my mash/lauter tun. I built my
heat exchanger from some copper tubing, copper
fittings, and hoses. As for my fermenter, I custom
built it with a pump that was bought from an
industrial supply place. I also built the frame and
That system certainly seems to fit a person who
said he became a brewer because he " always
loved beer and when you combine that with being
a tinkerer along with being a bit of mad scientist,
brewing became my only option."
The judges rated each beer on a 30 point scale in
four separate categories: aroma, appearance,
flavor, and overall adherence to style. While
many of the contestants struggled to remain calm
during the stress filled judging period, Jeff said
that the toughest time of the competition had
nothing to do with waiting for the results. It "was
not drinking all the beer before the contest. I
actually filled my entry bottles with the pale ale 3
weeks before the entry date because I knew it
would be gone by then (it was)."
"Everyone loves the brewer...when the beer is
good" said Jeff. "Brewing is a great hobby. My
best advice to anyone thinking about brewing for
the first time is simple. DO IT!"
|Click on Pictures
Wit wins medal
on Display at the Fair
|Jeff has graciously agreed to answer any
questions about home brewing for
Send your questions to
|BeerNexus - interview with award winning brewer
by Vince Capano