Blue Ribbon Beer at the NC State Fair

NC Brewer's Cup logo2012 marked the first time ever that beer was judged as part of the North Carolina State Fair.  This is a historic moment because the fair has been holding competitions for everything from pumpkins to pig races, and wine has been awarded for many years.

Luckily for the beer community, Richard Mitchell, along with a great supporting staff, stepped up to the plate and went to the fair, requesting that they include a beer competition.  And before we knew it, the NC Brewer’s Cup was born.

The homebrew competition saw 144 entries, while the commercial beer competition had 33.  You can see all of the winning entries on display at the 2012 Fair, so be sure to check it out.  In the meantime, you can see all of the results on the NC Brewer’s Cup website.

You will probably notice a familiar name as the Best of Show winner.  And as such, I feel obligated to share the winning recipe with everyone – not to mention the many requests that have come in for this recipe.  To be honest, there is no secret sauce, no special ingredient, no complex process.  It’s a pretty by-the-books dry stout, but sometimes the classics can really shine through, so I was glad to see a low alcohol, low hops beer beat out some of the bigger bolder beers that seem to be getting so much attention.  Sure, we all love experimenting with new, fun ingredients and techniques, but I love this stout (especially on draft with nitro) and was thrilled to see it earn the respect of the judges.

So, without further ado…

House Nitro Stout
All Grain
Style: Dry Stout



SRM: 33.5 (RANGE: 25.0-40.0 SRM)
IBU: 37.7 (RANGE: 30.0-45.0 IBUs)
OG: 1.046 SG (RANGE: 1.036-1.050 SG)
FG: 1.011 SG (RANGE: 1.007-1.011 SG)
ABV: 4.6 %
Efficiency: 76%
Batch: 10.50 gal
Boil Time: 60 Mins


**NOTE: I am using Chapel Hill water, which is pretty soft.  Please consult your local water profile, as you may not need as many additions.  But note that traditionally, Ireland became known for their dry stouts due to the alkaline, hard water.**

9.00 g Chalk
5.00 g Calcium Chloride
3.00 g Gypsum
2.00 g Baking Soda


6 lbs Pale Malt, 2 Row American (31.9 %)
6 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (31.9 %)
4 lbs 8.0 oz Barley, Flaked, 1.7 SRM (23.9 %)
2 lbs 4.0 oz Roasted Barley, 435.0 SRM (12.0 %)
1.0 oz Acid Malt, 3.0 SRM (0.3 %)

Mash In: Add 5.64 gal of water at 165.2 F, steep for 60 minutes at 152.0 F


Batch sparge with 2 steps (4.00gal, 5.45gal) of 168.0 F water


Est Pre_Boil Gravity: 1.041 SG
Est OG: 1.046 SG

4.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] – Boil 60.0 (37.7 IBUs)
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)


Yeast: 2 pkg Wyeast British Ale #1098 (Irish Ale #1084 also works great), with a 2 L starter on a stir plate
Primary : 21 Days at 67.0 F
Secondary (Cold Crash): 7.00 Days at 35.0 F
Style Carb Range: 1.80-2.50 Vols
**NOTE: I force carbonated this beer using a N2/Co2 blend set to about 28 PSI to achieve the correct amount of carbonation**


  • Starting gravity was a little low. Possibly due to issues with the mill crushing the roasted barley.
  • I also didn’t have but about 1 ounce of acid malt, though I typically use 4oz.
  • FG was also a bit high, so total ABV% of this particular batch was only about 4.2% (instead of the estimated 4.6%)