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Contest winner gets chance to make a whole lot of beer

Published On: Jan 23 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 25 2013 05:21:09 AM CST

A Lackawanna County man's beer beat out 60 other home brew masters in the region.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

A Lackawanna County man's beer beat out 60 other home brew masters in the region. Now, Michael Sexton is getting a shot at the big time, and his beer will be featured at an upcoming festival in the Lehigh Valley.  

The brewer-for-a-day competition is to help launch Lehigh Valley Beer Week. For home brewers, this is a dream come true because it's a growing trend in our area.

"It's a little bit more intimidating than the five gallons I do at home, but it's really cool," said Sexton, of Dunmore.

“He brewed the beer, and it was his recipe," added Lewis Thomas, a brewer at the Bethlehem Brew Works. "We just scaled it up to something that was equal to our production facility.”

Instead of making five gallons of beer, Sexton is making 500 gallons of his Black Rye I.P.A.  He entered the competition at the last possible moment.

"I heard there were a lot of entries that came in just that night, and I said, 'There's no way I am going to get it now,'" said Sexton, who beat out 60 people for the title. "I was really shocked when I got a call last week to say that I won."

"It was the actual hop flavor in the beer," added Beau Baden, brew master at the Allentown Brew Works. "It had a really clean hop flavor, bright, nice bitterness to it, and the guys around here love using rye."

Sexton said he's been serious about making beer for three years now. He called the experience fantastic.

The Fegleys said they can't wait to hold the contest again.

"It's awesome that the Lehigh Valley is putting itself on the map and starting to form its own beer week," said Jesse Albertson, corporate general manager for Fegley's Brew Works.

"It's going to be nice seeing my beer up in the middle of a bunch of those signs out there behind the bar," said Sexton. "I'm pretty psyched about it."

People will have to wait before they can taste the Black Rye I.P.A. It will be ready in two weeks when the Lehigh Valley Beer Week begins.