The second Annual At The Shore/Tun Tavern Homebrew Contest came to its conclusion with a very close finish among the entries.

The list of 16 contestants, which were submitted from throughout the area, ran the gamut from light ales to ambers to wheats to imperial stouts. To make it all that much more difficult for the judges, ALL the entries tasted great!

The panel of tasters, some of whom were judging for the very first time right beside others who were veteran beer drinkers and brewers, certainly enjoyed a fun experience and learned a lot about the finer points of beer.

To avoid palate fatigue, the judges were divided into groups and asked to rate four beers on appearance, aroma and flavor with the best of each of the groups re-tasted by the entire panel. The Tun and Press staff gathered the sheets, collated all the scores and the winner was chosen.

And the top zymurgists were longtime homebrewers Sal Emma and Terry Leary with their Black Hole Robust Porter, one of the three entries these prolific brewers entered. The winning entry was a dark, roasty, yet smooth example of the style.

The mash (grain bill) consisted of Maris Otter, dark crystal, black, chocolate and flaked barley and hopped with Cascade, Nugget and East Kent Goldings.

"I think this was the best beer we ever made," Leary says.

Apparently, the judges thought so, too. Their Bruges Blond came in third and was my favorite, although I am partial to Belgian styles.

Veterans of homebrew contests, these guys brew up a lot of great beers for friends and family, and if you get the chance to taste their beers, make yourself available to do so.

This beer will now be brewed in a big batch at Tun Tavern and debut at the Garden State Brewers Guild Fest on the Battleship New Jersey on June 23. It will also be on tap at the Tun until it's all gone. Don't miss it! Salud!