Dave Anderson doesn’t believe in sophomore slumps. The Mason native and employee of Cincinnati’s Samuel Adams Brewery received top honors in the company’s 2012 LongShot American Homebrew Contest, despite his Strawberry Lager being only the second batch of beer Anderson had ever brewed. The prize: a pair of bottles sporting his face in each nationally distributed LongShot Variety six-pack.
Anderson was one of three winners, taking home first prize in the Boston Beer Co. employee homebrews category. His initial attempt at brewing was a chocolate bock beer for the previous year’s competition, though his results weren’t as impressive the first time around. “I just had the Sam Adams Chocolate Bock, so I wanted to make something similar,” says Anderson. “And it didn’t come out like that at all.”
For his 2012 entry, Anderson opted to try a strawberry-infused lager. “It was a pretty basic lager and I just added the strawberries,” says Anderson. “It has a good strawberry aroma but not too strong of a strawberry flavor. It still tastes like beer, and it has a nice golden color.”
He used three pounds of strawberries for his five-gallon batch, quartering and freezing them overnight before using them to dry-hop the brew—dropping the fruit in the lager via a mesh bag after the initial boil and fermentation. As for his strawberry source: “I just went to Kroger and bought a few pounds,” he says.
Having his mug smack-dab on the front of a million beer bottles wasn’t the only prize. Anderson received a call from Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch—the guy you see in all the commercials—informing Anderson he was in the final three for the employee competition, and that the winner would be chosen at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, which Anderson was invited to attend. He also scored a trip to Oktoberfest in Germany.
“After doing the first brew I realized I was going to have two or three cases of my own beer sitting around,” says Anderson. “I was making it in the summer, so I just wanted a summertime beer to drink after golf and stuff like that.”
Anderson already submitted his entry for the 2013 competition—a Belgian quad with chocolate and bananas.