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Local homebrewer wins big at national competition
Mark Ranes poses with his wife Brenda and his bronze medal at the American Homebrewers Associations National Homebrew Competition held in June. Ranes American Barleywine took third out of 252 entries in the strong ale category. - photo by Photo contributed by Mark Ranes

Local homebrewer Mark Ranes enjoys sharing his love for beer with friends and family. At any one time he has eight of his homemade beers on tap, including his award-winning Mark’s Bigfoot Barleywine.  Ranes took home a bronze medal and bragging rights for his barleywine at the 33rd annual American Homebrewers Association National Homebrew Competition on June 18.

The National Homebrew Competition judged 6,996 homemade brews at the regional level first round of the competition. Ranes entered the first round in Lodi, where he took home first place for his Beanilla Porter, a vanilla flavored porter and third place with Mark’s Bigfoot Barleywine. The top three entries in all 28 categories from each region advanced to the final round, which was held in San Diego.

The Beanilla Porter did not place in the final round, but Ranes received his scorecards with comments about the decision. AHA judges are trained in every category of beer in the competition, and they have a specific taste that they are looking for.

“They have a pretty stringent set of requirements for each style,” Ranes said.

Mark’s Bigfoot Barleywine took third out of 252 final round entries in the strong ale category. The brew is an American Barleywine that Ranes aged for six months before the competition.  He was presented with a bronze medal at a banquet with nearly 1,500 in attendance.

“It was pretty cool,” Ranes said.

Ranes is a founder of the Central Valley Brewer’s Guild and he runs a homebrewing blog, Ranes’ line of homebrews, which he calls “Sociables,” is not for sale due to homebrewing laws in California. He does, however, share his homemade drinks with friends, family and fellow homebrewers. He has also hosted ‘Teach a Friend to Brew Day’ at his home, and shared the art of homebrewing with several first-timers.

“I enjoy it because it’s a very social activity, the brewing process can take up to six hours so we get together, we have food. We hold TJIF’s about once a month,” Ranes said.

He has also met homebrewers from all over the country through social media websites. He said that it’s interesting to see people at AHA events who he met on Twitter or through his blog. Several of his Internet homebrew connections were at the National Homebrew Competition Awards Ceremony in June when Ranes’ bronze medal was presented. 

“It was pretty cool to hear friends from Minnesota in the back of the room cheering,” Ranes said.

Ranes first became interested in brewing his own beer through a friend who is also a homebrewer. Ranes said that he participated with friends during the brewing process, and he got involved in making beer himself. The brewing process can take from five to six hours, and most beers have to sit for three weeks or longer. Ranes’ American Barleywine aged for six months before he entered it in the AHA competition, but he said Barleywine gets better with age.

“I bottled some of it and I might enter it again next year and see what happens,” Ranes said.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.