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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Two teams compete for title of first Keg-Off champions hosted by Deschutes Brewer


    Keg-off judge and member of the Tucson Homebrew Club Freddie Sanchez clinks beer glasses in front of the
    Black Butte team’s label-inspired keg during the Deschutes Brewery Keg-Off at Maker House on Tuesday.

    Deschutes Brewery has been busy this week hosting events as part of its Base Camp campaign. The events all lead up to its Street Fare of music, food and beer on Saturday in the Herbert Avenue Alley.

    One of these events involved the Oregon-based brewing company organizing its first-ever Deschutes Brewery Keg-Off at Maker House on Tuesday. The competition involved groups of creative individuals displaying their innovative designs for alternative kegs while visitors were given free drinks and a chance to vote for their favorite creation.

    The idea for the Keg-Off emerged when Joey Pleich, Deschutes Brewery’s field marketing manager and campaign director, visited the Maker House.  The company, which is the sixth-largest craft brewery in the U.S., organizes community events that both promote its products and provide a chance to meet its consumers.

    “We want to share our company with everyone: our beer, our culture, our take on life and how to enjoy it,” Pleich said. During his visit at the Maker House, manager Matt Rios told Pleich about a bench in the courtyard he created from repurposed materials, which inspired him to offer up a challenge to innovators and artists.

    Pleich and the owners of Maker House worked together to set up the event, and soon enough, the Keg-Off was scheduled to be a part of the brewery’s Base Camp advertising campaign taking place around Tucson this week.Intrigued community members quickly began responding to the challenge, and four teams of four members each were created to compete in the event. Two teams were unable to complete their projects, however, due to time constraints.

    The task at hand was more complicated than simply building a fancy keg, however; Pleich wanted to incorporate the idea of using repurposed materials and a limited budget like Rios did when creating the courtyard bench. Each team was given a budget of $200 and assigned a specific Deschutes beer to serve as inspiration for its keg masterpiece. The final product had to be made of at least 50 percent repurposed materials, effectively keep the brew cold and transport it cleanly from the keg to the glass. The teams were also given the task of creating a two-minute long video chronicling the creation of their kegs; the videos were screened on the back wall of the Maker House courtyard.

    The two teams that were able to complete their kegs, Team Black Butte and Team Jubelale, dedicated large amounts of time, effort and stress to creating functional, beer-pouring works of art.

    David Austin Velasco, a member of the Jubelale team and a local musician, said his team’s creation took approximately 25 hours from start to finish. Jubelale brew is a seasonal holiday beer offered by Deschutes, so Velasco’s team created a gigantic snowman out of cardboard, spray foam, paint, a modified mini refrigerator and tap parts.

    The Black Butte team, on the other hand, created a keg incorporating its brew’s logo in the design. The Black Butte image of the sun setting behind a mountain was carved out of wood and painted with the beer tap protruding from the center of the mountain. Every time a glass was poured, the sun would be illuminated by lights that the team installed. Daniel Williamson, a Black Butte team member and a graduate student studying epidemiology, said the Black Butte team spent several nights over the course of three weeks working on their keg.

    Once team introductions were made and kegs were revealed, those in attendance got the chance to cast their vote for which keg they thought was the most creative, detailed and functional. A panel of judges were also present, so the public vote and the judge’s verdict were each worth half of the final decision. 

    While voting took place, samples were given out from the competing kegs, a blues band provided music and people danced and chatted. 

    At 9 p.m., Pleich announced Jubelale won the competition, winning the team members several portable “kegerators,” VIP passes to the other events occurring during the Base Camp campaign and a Maker House membership. 

    “I’m so happy about the win,” Velasco said after accepting first prize on behalf of his team. “Next, I’m going to paint it into a sugar skull for Día de los Muertos.”

    For its hard work, Team Black Butte was also awarded VIP passes to the week’s coming events. But this won’t be the last Keg-Off in Tucson, Pleich said.

    Deschutes Brewing will also be hosting cheese tasting at Tap & Bottle on Sixth Avenue on Friday from 5-7 p.m. Guests will be able to sample gourmet cheese and crafted beer from Deschutes Brewing, as well as ask questions to representatives of the company. The Deschutes Brewery Street Fare on Saturday will conclude this week-long celebration of well-crafted beer.


    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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