Announcing IBC Blues Challenge at Rising Silo Brewery!

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Huck’s Beer Buzz in conjunction with the Blue Ridge Blues Society in Roanoke is sponsoring a Blues Challenge to send a band and a solo/duo act to Memphis in January.

The competition will be from 12:30 to 5:30 on Saturday November 12th at the Rising Silo Brewery on Glade Road in Blacksburg.

The competitors will start at 1PM and we must be done by 5:30. Depending on the number of entries, the sets will be 20 minutes and limited to 8 acts. 

There will be a $25 entry fee and $100 awarded to the winner of each category. We will be putting out a tip jar for the winners and will start a crowd source fund raiser now to help defray the costs. The tips and crowd source will be weighted 66% for the bands and 34% for the solo/duo.

Anyone who knows Blues minded persons or companies who would like to contribute, or bands who would like to participate, have them contact Huck at

Competitors should read through the rules and other information below and be clear on the scoring criteria and other requirements of the contest.

May the best band (or solo/duo) win!


Winners go to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, January 31-February 4, 2017. Over 250 acts from around the world vie for top honors during this week in Memphis, TN.

We will provide professional backline equipment for competitors for ease of transition between acts and to assure a level playing field for all performers and will provide overall sound and sound engineer.

PLEASE, do not ask to use your “signature sound” amplifier, you must use one of the provided amplifiers. (please see the rules for what equipment is allowable) Keyboard and harmonica players may bring their own Amps.


Scoring Criteria 
The Blues Foundation recommends that all Affiliated Organizations in their competition use our established scoring criteria. Categories include Talent Vocal, Blues Content, Stage Presence and Originality.

  1. Blues Content: Everyone has his or her own interpretation of what is and is not Blues. Thus, any given three-judge panel will include members with varying opinions of Blues, covering the spectrum of Blues whenever possible, from the most traditional to soul/blues and rock/blues. Bands should pick material carefully. At the Memphis semi-finals and finals, the judges are Blues professionals, not a bar crowd, and are likely to be unimpressed with song selections that are uninspired. (Call this–with all due respect to Sir Mack Rice and Wilson Pickett–the “no Mustang Sally rule.”)
    2. Vocals: The acts vocal skills.
    3. Talent: The acts instrumental skills.
    4. Originality: Original work is encouraged. Cover tunes are allowed but playing the recorded rendition lick by lick is discouraged; will not be looked upon favorably by the judges; and will be reflected in scoring.
    5. Stage Presence: Over the years, the quality of talent has risen so dramatically that we no longer consider this an “amateur” competition. Most contestants have performed on stage enough to know that they are not simply playing music, but putting on a show. This category rates how “sellable” a band may be.

To reflect the relative importance of each category in the success of a band, a band’s score in each category is weighted. Raw scores for Blues Content is multiplied by four, Talent and vocals by three and Originality and Stage Presence are multiplied by two. The total in each category represents the Weighted Score for that category. Total possible weig

Penalty Points

An ACT will be penalized one point from its Total Weighted Score (see below) for each ten seconds that it runs overtime. There is no penalty for using less than the allotted time.
At the producing organization’s discretion, a policy of penalty for excessive time loading-in and out will also be applied.
The weighted multipliers will be Blues content (4); talent and vocals (3); originality (2) and stage presence (2).


Act Check-in
To avoid point deductions, plan your travel to Memphis carefully. Each COMPETING act must check in between 12 noon – 2:30 pm February 1, 2017 at (To Be Determined) Beale Street. You will receive your credentials as well as your venue assignment at check-in. Attendance of Act Orientation at 2:45 pm February 1, 2017 at (To Be Determined) Beale Street, is required. Orientation will review contest rules, introduce key people, and seek to resolve any questions or special problems that contestants may have. Any competitor failing to check in by the beginning of ACT Orientation without special arrangement will be disqualified.

Huck Was Here!

Virginia makes its mark again at the Great American Beer Festival!

Virginia makes its mark again at the Great American Beer Festival!

Virginia brings home 12 medals from the 2016 Great American Beer Festival.

What Saturday afternoon looks like! 2015...

What Saturday afternoon looks like at GABF! 2015…

5 Gold, 4 silver, and 3 bronze. Devil’s Backbone leads the way with two golds, continuing their domination of the Vienna Lager category.

Regionally, 5 from central Virginia, 2 from Richmond. and 6 from Northern Virginia. I’m counting Fredericksburg as Northern Virginia, but I guess it could be Richmond area.

Congratulations to all the winners, participants, and attendees at GABF this year. Looks like it was another great year in Denver. I’m planning on being back next year.

Here’s a complete list of all the winners:

And here’s an excerpted list of Virginia winners:

Category 16: Session Beer – 52 Entries

Bronze: Slippery When Wit, South Street Brewery, Charlottesville, VA

Category 21: Historical Beer – 43 Entries

Silver: Grosse Teufel, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond, VA

Category 25: Brett Beer – 53 Entries

Bronze: Brett Saison, Ardent Craft Ales, Richmond, VA

Category 33: Kellerbier or Zwickelbier – 69 Entries

Gold: Sunnyside Dweller, Ocelot Brewing, Sterling, VA

Category 44: Vienna-Style Lager – 67 Entries

Gold: Vienna Lager, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Outpost Production Facility, Lexington, VA
Silver: 13.FIVE Ofest, Blue Mountain Barrel House and Organic Brewery, Arrington, VA

Category 50: Baltic-Style Porter – 41 Entries

Gold: Danzig, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Basecamp, Roseland, VA

Category 52: German-Style Koelsch – 111 Entries

Gold: Light of Cologne, Ornery Beer Co., Woodbridge, VA

Category 55: English-Style India Pale Ale – 43 Entries

Silver: Face Plant, Lost Rhino Brewing Co., Ashburn, VA

Category 76: Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale – 61 Entries

Bronze: Sunken Road, Spencer Devon Brewing, Fredericksburg, VA

Category 95: Old Ale or Strong Ale – 38 Entries

Silver: COLOSSAL FIVE, Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria, VA

Pro-Am – 88 Entries

Silver: Vernal Equinox, Starr Hill Brewery, Crozet, VA
Brewmaster: Starr Hill Brewing Team
Homebrewer: Gary Layton

Congratulations again to the home team!

Huck was here!

Brewsday Tuesday, what’s that? It’s something completely different!

Brewsday Tuesday, what’s that? It’s something completely different!

Are you telling me two guys are drinking craft beer on the radio every Tuesday in the New River Valley?

Well, yeah we are…Yours truly and my buddy DreZ get together every Tuesday afternoon and have a couple of beers. A lot of folks do that, but what makes us different is that we are on the air!

Huck and DreZ hanging in matching sunglasses...

Huck and DreZ hanging in matching sunglasses…

Station 105.3 the Bear in Radford hosts our radio show around 6 PM every Tuesday. Ok, one week I was out of town and we did Brewsday Wednesday, but Tuesday is our day. It’s a rock station, but that doesn’t mean you country music fans can’t check it out. We talk most of the time!

It all started the week after Christmas last year when DreZ gave me a call and said, “You know that Craft Beer Radio show you’ve been wanting to do? Well now’s the time! I’ve got a spot we can air it in.  When can you come by to try it out?”

Our first show aired on January 5th, 2016, and we haven’t missed one since. The first show – ok, the first ten shows were a bit rough, but I think we are starting to get it figured out now. We put the shows up on iTunes as a podcast called Brewsday Tuesday and on YouTube as a video here.

The format of the show consists of our drinking a craft beer, sometimes not craft, and discussing it as well as current beer events and just general stream of consciousness that comes up as we roll along. The only things that are pretty standard are the fact that we drink beer (or alleged beer in some cases) and rate it on the beer rating app Untappd. Other that that, the show can go anywhere!

We recently acquired a sponsor, The Fat Back Soul Shack, just off I-81 at exit 118C. Just take a right on the off ramp and then the next right into the parking lot. It doesn’t get easier than that! There you will find some of the best soul food you will ever have! And some great beer! Mostly in bottles but they plan to upgrade the taps and add a few more.

DreZ and I both love craft beer and he tries to keep my bullshit factor down somewhere below 5. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. We’ve had some great beer and some not so great beer. A couple of weeks ago we had some JR Ewing Special Reserve brewed in 1980 as well as some beer from the 1982 World’s Fair. Interesting, to say the least. The shows are here podcast style and here YouTube style.

JR's Private Reserve, showing that we will drink anything...

JR’s Private Reserve, showing that we will drink anything…

To recap, you can livestream the show here or get the bear app here IOS or Android. After the show airs, it eventually shows up on iTunes as Brewsday Tuesday. There is another one, but you can tell which is us.  The feed for that originates here, if you want to go straight to the source! It’s also on my YouTube channel here, all but the first one…

Huck was here!

Is there beer in Jacksonville, Florida? The magic 8-ball says…absolutely!

Is there beer in Jacksonville, Florida? The magic 8-ball says…absolutely!

There’s a multi-tap bar at 910 King Street in Jacksonville, Florida with 1.1 million pennies on the walls. It also has hundreds of antique glass front mousetraps with mementos of the owner’s past…

Lots of pennies on the walls...

Lots of pennies on the walls…

Mousetrap mementos...

Mousetrap mementos…

But wait, there’s more! 204 taps, 100,000 bottles of beer in the catacombs under the restaurant and some wonderful food.

How did all that get there? The owner of Kickbacks Gastropub / Goozlepipe & GuttyworksSteve Flores, built the place up over many years. He obviously has a great affection for all things craft. That includes beer and decorations as well. He and a friend spent 8,000 hours gluing all those pennies to the wall. It’s like hiding your money in your mattress, except it’s in plain sight and harder to cash in…

Throughout the restaurant are amazing things to look at and enjoy. One of the more amazing things is the beer selection. 204 taps means there’s something for everyone. The original part of the building has a long bar with a bunch of taps on the bar and hanging from the ceiling! I’m pretty sure the ceiling ones are just for decoration. The newer section has a hundred-year-old coffee carafe with 78 taps on it, plus assorted other taps all around the bar.

Main bar with antique coffe carafe taps.

Main bar with antique coffee carafe taps.

In the basement (catacombs) there are 24 taps of Belgian goodness and a private space for intimate get-togethers. We had dinner there during the official Beer Bloggers and Writers visit.

Wonderful Belgian taps in the basement!

Wonderful Belgian taps in the basement!

How do you keep all those lines clean and fresh? Steve says they don’t depend on the distributors to follow up. He has made it the responsibility for each shift manger to clean the lines of each tap that goes during their shift. Also, the lines are kept to a single style as much as possible to keep off flavors from different styles from being a problem. It’s quite a challenge, but it seems to be working for them.

My friend Owen checking out the keg system. I think he approves...

My friend Owen checking out the keg system. I think he approves…

Our bartender, Erica, was completely knowledgeable about the beer on tap. She was Cambodian and was correct that she was my first bartender from there! All the staff was helpful and beer smart. Steve was also always around helping out and answering questions. It was a great place to visit and hang out in. If you only have time for one place in Jacksonville, this would be the one.

Behind a locked door off the spiral staircase coming down into the crypt  – oops, I mean basement – one finds 100,000 bottles of beer and some kegs as well. Let’s just say that Steve has a “strong” cellering program going on here. Multiple bottles of various rare and not-so-rare vintages crowd the shelves. Each section is locked away behind a secure gate. The whole area is dark and kept at 57 degrees, soon to be 53 degrees.

Lots of beer awaiting it's perfect time...

Lots of beer awaiting its perfect time…

Steve says, “Beer doesn’t like heat and light.” Unfortunately, my old vision wasn’t feeling the love. With the help of some modern technology, my phone’s light, I was able to read some labels.

Just one shelf of many...

Just one shelf of many…

If the choices locked away don’t excite you, for a dollar a day you can rent a locker complete with round table to taste your own bottles. Kind of the knights of the round craft beer table in the catacombs…where’s the mead? Each locker comes with its own bona fide English jailer’s reproduction padlock. Steve, the owner, took the one locker that’s blocked by a pipe so yours will be fully accessible!

Rows of beer lockers!

Rows of beer lockers!

I’m going to have to figure out a way to get back here and spend some more time!

There are also some nice breweries in Jacksonville as well. We visited Aardwolf Brewing, Intuition Ale Works, Engine 15 Brewing Company, and Green Room Brewing. There are others, but time was short and the beer was plentiful… Perhaps another day.

P.S. Aardwolf was my favorite of the breweries!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Is there beer at Floyd Fandango (Revisited)?…Yes!

Is there beer at Floyd Fandango (Revisited)?…Yes!

Floyd Fandango rose from the ashes last weekend after a five year hiatus. Smaller and more intimate, it didn’t disappoint. Plenty of good craft beer, great wine and wonderful entertainment.

The event centered around the Hill Holler Stage with bands every hour and a half all day.

Getting down!

Getting down!

Camping was mostly in the woods campground next to the Garden Stage area. RVs were spread out through the parking area. We had a site to ourselves down the hill from the action, very nice.

BeeRV taking it easy with Whit!

BeeRV taking it easy with Whit!

There were also plenty of outdoor activities, and with the perfect weather, many participated. There were mountain bike races, disc golf, a 5K race, and a beer run. What’s a beer run? It’s when you chug a beer, run a quarter mile, then repeat 3 more times. This one had a slight twist…it was a relay race! Each member drank a beer, ran a quarter mile, then tagged the next runner in their group who then drank a beer and ran. Here’a video of some of the race…


Some of these folks were really getting into it. If I had had some partners, I would have done it…maybe.

The music went deep into the night; unfortunately, I did not…too much craft beer and perhaps a touch of Evan Williams. I heard there was some local stuff in milk jugs floating around the campground but cannot confirm. Where we were in Patrick/Floyd Counties, it wouldn’t surprise me!

They also had a nice farm-to-table dinner catered by the award winning Jason from Martin’s Roanoke. Delicious BBQ and sides topped off by a cornbread donut. Yum Yum…

Martin's farm to table meal!

Martin’s farm-to-table meal!

They also previewed the Parkway Brewing Floyd Fuel Pale Ale at the dinner. It was a nice slightly hop-forward pale ale. Good mouth feel and perfect for the warm sunny weather. We had a couple…

The Floyd Fuel was the fuel for the bike race as well.

Of course, Dogtown Roadhouse had pizza there and our friends from Buffalo Mountain Kombucha brought an alternative beverage.

We ended the night with the Uncle John’s band which included our friends Scott Sutton and Matt Leonard. They did an excellent job covering some Grateful Dead songs!

Sweet dead cover band!

Sweet Dead cover band!

Guess we will see you at Floydfest and again next year at the Fandango!

I need a Huck's beer Buzz version of this...

I need a Huck’s beer Buzz version of this…

Laissez les bon temp rouler!

Is there craft beer in Key West? Ask a Conch…

Is there craft beer in Key West? Ask a Conch…

Well, my first visit to Key West, Florida was quite an adventure! We took the BeeRV, and even with a blowout in North Carolina on one of the back dually tires, we made it in style. We limped to SC and got the tires replaced and then continued to Cape Canaveral to drop off the kids for a Disney cruise. Due to the delay, we had to drive down the Keys in the dark. The trip back was during the day, so we did get to see the wonderful view.

View from the pilot's seat of the BeeRV!

View from the pilot’s seat of the BeeRV!

It’s a long way down there on a two-lane highway. I can see why a lot of people stop at Key Largo or Islamorada. They get the ambiance of the keys and lots of amenities without the long drive.

That means missing out on the party that is Key West!

So, what’s a conch? It’s a shellfish indigenous to the Key West area and the nickname of folks who are from there or have been there twenty years or more. If you lived there less than 20 years you are a freshwater conch. Not sure what that means, but I think its a bit derogatory…

We arrived late on Saturday night, set up camp and just hung out at the campground. Boyd’s Key West Campground is the only RV park in Key West. It’s located just north of Key West on Stock Island, but is considered part of Key West. It’s about 6 miles from Mallory Square, which is the center of much of the tourist activity at Key West.

Sunset at Mallory Square!

Sunset at Mallory Square!

The park has a mix of long term snowbirds and transients like ourselves. It’s a bit pricey, $100 a night or so, but the closest thing you can find. Hotels run $300 and up on Key West, so it’s a little better than that! The sites are tight but they come out and help you back in. The guy told me he could tell it wasn’t my first rodeo…

Our campsite!

Our campsite!

On Sunday we hit up the Uber app, but there was nothing available. We called a cab and during the ride asked about Uber. He was proud to tell us that they ran them off the island. There are 72 permits to pick people up at the airport and when Uber came they couldn’t get any of those permits. When an Uber driver picked up two detectives at the airport, he was arrested and his car impounded! That’s why folks are still paying $20 for a two-mile ride from the airport. Uber was charging $9.

We went on the history tour and discovered that Key West was pretty much founded by smugglers and pirates. Seems like that hasn’t changed much! They even went so far in the 1800’s as to get a federal judge assigned to help them with the recovery of ships that sank off the coast on the reefs. Help them get paid for it that is…

Shipwreck observation point.

Shipwreck observation point.

Pretty sure they weren’t using the money they got to make the area safer for shipping.

I digress…we are here to talk about beer! I wouldn’t say that Key West is a hotbed of great craft beer. Like a college town, many of the patrons are there to get drunk and as cheaply as possible. And there’s a bunch of retirees with the same goal! There are several places with good tap selections and even a couple of brew pubs.

The best brew pub was Waterfront Brewing near Mallory Square. It’s a bit confusing what is going on since if search you Waterfront you get Shipyard Brewing. Not sure if they make their beer or just pulling some internet shenanigans…

Good beer here at Waterfront!

Good beer here at Waterfront!

Second place goes to Kelly’s Caribbean Bar and Brewery. In terms of history, it wins the prize. It was the birthplace of Pan Am Airlines and the bar looks like a wing. The kind you fly, not the kind you eat. I think I’d like to see a bar that looks like the kind you eat…

Food was good and there was an iguana about three feet long running around for entertainment. The beer was mostly out of stock but the two they had were drinkable. Go for the history and food. There’s more beer elsewhere.

The best tap bar was Krawl. It may be going out of business. The landlord wants to do something else with the property, so hurry up if you want to check this out. It was the only place I found on the island with Hopslam.

My look alike brother pouring beer!

My look-alike brother pouring beer!

Jerry vs Jerry...

Jerry vs. Jerry…

The Porch is much more mature and good for beer geeks/snobs. Lots of taps and great atmosphere. In Key West, everything has great atmosphere because it’s 70 there and -10 back home!

A couple of other places to check out in no particular order are: The Green Parrot, lots of locals; Sloppy Joe’s, Hemingway’s hangout; Capt’ Tony’s, the original Sloppy Joe’s; Hog’s Breath, bikers bar, and ; The Garden of Eden, clothing optional…

There’s more than craft beer in Key West as well. We went to the Dry Tortugas. It’s a day trip on a fast boat or a half day on a seaplane. We took the boat. It was a bit rough on the way back, but we survived with the contents of out stomachs, unlike several other passengers. The Yankee Freedom is a great boat with a wonderful professional well trained crew. Say hey to Jeff if you go!

View from the top of the fort!

View from the top of the fort!

There’s tons of shops and restaurants as far as the eye can see. If you are inclined towards the LGBT community there’s a whole section of the entertainment district aligned that way. Something for everyone, if you know what I mean…

We did a couple of museums about treasure hunting and ship wrecking…oops, I mean salvage…as well as general history of the Keys and even visited Ernest Hemingway’s home and office. Easy to find plenty to do in a week.

This is where Hemingway wrote in Key West.

This is where Hemingway wrote in Key West.

One thing you need to know before you go to Key West is that there are roosters running around everywhere crowing up a storm at all hours of the day and night! They were used as fighting cocks, but after cockfighting was made illegal, everyone just let them go.

Fake rooster vs real rooster...

Fake rooster vs. real rooster…

Next visit is going to be in warmer weather and involve some scuba diving on the reefs. I’m really looking forward to that! See ya then.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!