Image: 2018 Erie County Fair “Best In Show” home brewer Kevin DiTondo (C), with Flying Bison Brewery Founder Tim Herzog (L) and Flying Bison Master Brewer Colin Herzog (R).
A Vienna Lager brewed by Kevin DiTondo of Cheektowaga, New York was named “Best of Show” during the Erie County Fair’s 2018 Home Brew Competition. Judging for the Fair’s competition, now in its fifth year, took place on Thursday, April 19th and Saturday, April 21st at the Fairgrounds. A panel of 23 judges and master judges evaluated the submissions according to nationally recognized Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) protocols.
According to BJCP’s published style guidelines, Vienna Lagers are an amber colored brew with a rich toasty character. The Fair’s winning entry had an attractive light brown copper appearance filled with bread and raisin aroma with a slight hops taste. Judges noted that the brew has “just enough sweetness to keep it from bring crisp.” Vienna lagers were first introduced in the Austrian capital in the mid-19th century. The beer style is known for pairing well with chicken, pizza, barbeques and spicy dishes…a good match for all Fair foods!
Winning brewer Kevin DiTondo is a member of the Niagara Association of Homebrewers. He has been brewing since 2010 when he received a home brew kit as a Christmas gift. He is a multi-award winning home brewer who took top and second honors at the Amber Waves of Grain (AWOG) competition in 2017. 2018 was his 3rd year entering the Erie County Fair Home Brew competition.
His winning lager was brewed in late December 2017. When coming up with his recipe, DiTondo used a Vienna Lager brewed commercially by the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company located in Roseland, VA as a reference. Locally, the most popular commercial Vienna Lager is Flying Bison Brewing Company’s “Rusty Chain.”
Once crowned “Best Of Show,” DiTondo submitted the beer’s recipe to the professional brew staff at Flying Bison Brewery. Kegged product, based on the homebrew recipe, will be offered by Try-It Distributing to select Western New York establishments for public purchase prior to the Fair. During the 179th Erie County Fair, on premise “beer gardens” will feature the award winning beer.
DiTondo also placed 2nd Best of Show in this year’s competition with his Irish Extra Stout. Other top honors were also given to Kenneth Demarree who received 3rd Best of Show for his Fruit Lambic. Steve Landgren of Webster, New York received an honorable mention for his American IPA. A complete listing of winners is available online at: https://bit.ly/2K9ZTht
The Erie County Fair Home Brew competition is sponsored by the Erie County Agricultural Society with support from Try-It Distributing, Flying Bison Brewing and KATZ Americas.
The judging of home brewed beer is just one of the competitions held annually by the Erie County Fair. In 2018, over 12,500 entries are expected to be received and judged by the Fair’s Competitive Exhibits Office. The wide range of ribbon winning categories include agriculture, conservation and creative arts among others. 2018 entries will be accepted online beginning May 1st at www.ECFair.org.
About the Erie County Fair
The Erie County Agricultural Society is a private not-for-profit membership organization. Established in 1819, the Society is the oldest civic organization in Western New York. The mission of the Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS), sponsors of the Erie County Fair, is to preserve and enhance, by educational endeavors, the agricultural and historical legacy of New York State. The Fair strives to fulfill appropriate aspects of the agricultural, educational, entertainment and recreational needs of Western New York. The 2018 Erie County Fair will be held August 8th – 19th (www.ECFair.org)