Beer has a way of bringing people together. Friends and families gather over it, communities celebrate it. Jamie Burnham, a long-time member of the SLC brewing community and cancer survivor, saw the opportunity for the brewing community to come together to brew for a cause.
Jamie is a candidate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Utah 2021 Man and Woman of the Year award. The campaign is a nationwide ten week fundraising competition where individuals who are highly dedicated to finding a cure for blood cancer are nominated by their local communities to participate. Candidates who raise the most money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society are awarded the title of Man or Woman of the Year in their community and the top fundraisers are awarded the national title.
When nominated for this year’s Man and Woman of the Year (MWOY) competition, Jamie set out to create Brewing Beer to Fight Cancer! MWOY LLS, a home brewing fundraising competition. “In an effort to raise as much money as possible for [the] Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I thought a homebrew competition would be a good way to start,” she says. Creating a successful homebrewing competition is familiar territory for Jamie. She founded the Beehive Brew-off, Utah’s largest and longest running homebrew competition, making her the perfect candidate to turn homebrewing into a successful fundraising campaign.
Jamie put out a call to the homebrewing community to brew a red beer of their choice to raise money for blood cancer research. “As a cancer survivor, I feel the need to pay it forward to assist others that are currently fighting or will fight with an opportunity to have targeted medicines for their specific cancers and ultimately find a cure,” she says. Ross Metzger and Cody McKendrick, owners of Bewilder Brewing, and longtime friends of Jamie, volunteered to host the competition at Bewilder which occurred this past Saturday.
In total, 34 ‘red’ homebrews were entered into the Brewing Beer to Fight Cancer! MWOY LLS competition. Red beers were submitted in several categories including lagers, fruit, specialty IPA, sours, herb and veggie, Irish red, and strong bitter. In addition to Ross and Cody, Jamie selected six other local judges whose palates she trusts implicitly. These individuals are either certified beer judges or have experience in sensory training and evaluated the beers according to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) guidelines.
The judges met this past Saturday at Bewilder. Due to COVID-19, the judging was not open to the public but I was lucky enough to be invited to watch the competition. The judges narrowed the brews down first to the top 15 beers, followed by the top 5, and finally selected the top 3 homebrews. Cherry Mother Pucker, an experimental beer brewed by Curt McCuistion, was awarded 1st place. April Idle and Mike Newton’s Specialty IPA, Harrison House Red ale, came in second place followed by Ryan Wiser’s Ryan’s ESR in third, a play on an extra special bitter. As the winner of the competition, Curt will have the special opportunity to brew his Cherry Mother Pucker with Ross and Cody at Bewilder Brewing.
Thus far, Jamie has raised $1,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with the help of the local homebrewing community. She also has the goal of collecting donations for LLS from all 50 states! “LLS develops treatments for more than Leukemia and Lymphoma,” Jamie says. “It all starts with blood cancers because of the ease to isolate a droplet of blood.” If you would like to help Jamie and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, please donate to Jamie’s fundraising campaign which runs until May 20th. Keep an eye out for Cherry Mother Pucker which will be available at Bewilder Brewing in the next few months with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.