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Apr 22, 2011

A Chat with Sam Adams LongShot winner Rodney Kibzey

In the 14 year history of the Boston Brewing Co.'s Samuel Adams LongShot homebrewing contest, it would seem impossible that one person could actually win twice. With thousands of entries submitted each year, from which two homebrewers' and a Sam Adams employee's winning entries are chosen to be brewed up in a special six-pack, a repeat performance would be much against the odds.
But in my observation of real life, coincidence seems much more repeatable than statistical odds.
The 2010 LongShot sixpack includes "Blackened Hops," a Cascadian IPA (or, if you'll forgive the oxymoron, a Black India Pale Ale) by Lombard resident Rodney Kibzey. Kibzey had previously won the 2007 LongShot with a Weizenbock, which hit store shelves in 2008.
Rodney appeared at Lombard's Famous Liquors on April 2, where he autographed bottles and was treated like, maybe not so much a rock star as an indie rock star. Sam Adams representatives were on hand to sample out their Latitude 48 IPA as well, and Famous also had a wine and cheese tasting in store (Stilton! Yum!).
Between autographing, handing out Sam Adams hats and pouring samples,Rodney answered a few of my beer geek questions:

MM: Doesn’t the name “Blackened Hops” seem a little misleading? It sounds like the hops themselves have been toasted to a crisp.
Rodney: Well, a lot people like to call it “Cascadian Dark Ale,” I just like to call it “beer goodness.”
MM: I assume you’ve been entering the LongShot competitions since they started. Were the organizers at Sam Adams surprised that you’d won your second one?
Rodney: Yeah, a lot of people we’re shocked. They’re like “Not again!” But they picked the best beers, and the cream always rises to the top.
MM: Have you done this “tour” the last time, too? Are all the winners doing this kind of thing?
Rodney: Usually they do it out of choice. I live local, in Lombard, I usually come here to Famous Liquors, so I'm kind of giving back to the community.
MM: So the Sam Adams people just said, “If you want to do this, we’ll come out?”
Rodney: Yeah. The people in the store know me, I come in here periodically, and they said yeah, we want you to come back and do a pouring.
MM: So what are you thinking of for the next contest? Or are they going to force you retire and rename the contest after you?
Rodney: Well, I think I'm kind of done. I've said to myself before I won this year’s contest, that win, lose or draw, this is it. The next step would probably be to go pro.
For those who think the playing field might be a bit more level this year, Sam Adams is now taking entries for the 2011 LongShot. The rules and links to enter are here.

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