At this years annual sour beer festival at The Cajun Cafe, our homebrew group, Special Hoperations, had the final awards for their Walk on the Wild Side competition, a competition strictly for sour beers. I am very happy to announce that Sandy's sour belgian wit bier, Zuur Wit, took 3rd place in it's class.

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Sandy with her medal, along with David, Frank, and Jill

This represents much more than a growing list of medals for our homebrewing operation. This was truly Sandy's medal, and puts warranted emphasis on the impact sour beers have had in our lives over the last year.

Sandy had her first sour just over a year ago, at last years festival, and was instantly hooked. She quickly told me I needed to learn to make sours, and of course, any challenge beer related immediately puts me in high gear. So learn I did, and after some crazy experiments, doing things that as a brewer just seemed as wrong as wrong could be, we ended up with some amazing sour beers. Then, finally, a round of gushers... we still drank them, just had to chill them down really cold and be careful and patient to get them out of the bottle without a disastrous mess. Then we studied more, learned how to balance sour with funky, learned how to give the lacto a head start while still remaining true to our organic, natural "Brew Like A Monk" philosophy, and right back to making amazing good beers.

That very same sour fest a year ago is where we first bumped into Special Hoperations, our new homebrew club. Right away we sensed they were a young, and young at heart, vibrant energetic friendly group who were pushing boundaries in sour beers, being active in the community, and plain having fun. It took us a while to finally join, but they are pretty much exactly what we thought they were.

All of this happened pretty coincidental with rebranding and rebirthing our homebrewing operation, and the inclusion of sours has not only broadened our offerings, but it has complimented our original Belgians slant quite well, and in historically accurate ways. It has stretched me in my growth as a brewer, and frankly, in my tastes for beer as well. It has gotten us a great new bunch of friends, and new beer events and outings. It makes us instantly popular, if just for the weird factor, at most parties when we bring our sour creations.

But more than all of that, sours have converted this from My hobby, to Our hobby. Sandy has learned much about brewing in the last year. She has become an active member (well, as active as I am, anyway) of Special Hoperations. She jumps right in and carries her fair share of the load for doing the grunt work on brew day. And this beer was totally her idea, and greatly her design, from top to bottom. So this is absolutely, without question, her medal.