By Robb Jeffries
Forum News Service
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — When home brewer Adam Wagner made his first homemade beer with his father seven years ago, being able to sell his creation never entered his mind.
“I never really thought about that,” the Fisher, Minn., man said. “Maybe as a distant dream, someday.”
Thanks to his persistence and a trip to a professional beer camp, Wagner’s dream has come true.
On Tuesday, he poured the first glass of Blood Shot Imperial Red from a tap at JL Beers in Grand Forks during a release party for the beer.
More than 50 people came to taste it.
Wagner and his team of 12 at Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 95 created Blood Shot with the help of brewmasters at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, Calif.
Around 6,500 people apply to go to the two-day camps at the company each year. Wagner was one of only 24 selected to attend this past December.
“We had a really laid-back group of people,” Wagner said. “We had a lot of fun with it.”
Blood Shot will be sold at JL Beers until the keg runs dry. After that, it will be sold in bottles nationwide in late August.
Brewing started as a family venture for Wagner and his father, Tim. Most home brewers depend on buying ingredients from stores, but the Wagners began growing their own hops and barley at their Fisher farm for their brews.
Even with a growing home brewing operation, Wagner said seeing his beer for sale was an unbelievable experience.
“We knew going in to beer camp that it would happen,” he said, “but seeing it actually happen is pretty wild.”
Wagner said he used the camp itself as inspiration for the beer.
“Since it was camp number 95, we wanted to shoot for 9.5-percent alcohol and 95 IBUs (a unit for measuring bitterness, on a scale of 100), and we got it,” he said. “Since we called it Blood Shot, we wanted to get a real deep cherry red color, and I think we achieved that.”
Wagner described the beer as a bitter red ale with “lots of hop character.”
Ryan Langseth, one of the party attendees, said, “I’m a really big fan of bitter beers, and it fits my palette.”
Despite a heavy bitter overtone, Blood Shot finishes with a caramel taste. “It’s hoppy, but it has sweeter notes, too,” taster Kelly Grover said.
Sierra Nevada selected two of the best of the beers created by the beer camps — Blood Shot and a stout beer — to distribute nationwide.