Annual chili cook-off to feature local craft beers

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Illustration by Ben Hillyer

Illustration by Ben Hillyer

It’s not just a chili cook-off anymore.

The third-annual Rotary Broadway Bash Chili Cook-Off Saturday will feature a variety of craft beers from two local home brewers.

Rotary publicity chairwoman Sarah Carter Smith said the organizers of the annual chili cook-off wanted to bring the home brewing craze to Natchez and, hopefully, start something that will grow in the next few years.

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“The home brewing stuff is really growing right now, so we started researching and found a couple of regional competitions and events that we thought we could start doing here,” Smith said. “It would still be part of the chili cook-off, but could possibly bring in people from across our entire region to Natchez.”

Natchez resident Allen Richard and Vidalia resident Chris Couie will have several beers on hand ready to distribute Saturday during the cook-off.

Richard, who was been home brewing beer for the past two years, will have a Kalamazoo IPA, or India Pale Ale which is a category of pale ale beer, and a Belgian wheat beer with figs. Richard will also have root beer.

Richard said he’s looking forward to spreading the word about the process of home brewing.

“I’m excited to introduce the hobby to a broader group of people,” Richard said. “The home brewing and craft brew craze is on fire right now, and we’re playing catch up.”

Imagining a large-scale brewing competition or exhibition in Natchez, Richard said, isn’t completely farfetched.

“Natchez is a neat town, and the chili cook-off gives brewers a reason to come to town and try the beer here,” Richard said. “Would they rather go to a boring auditorium in Jackson and drink beer or be on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River trying some interesting beers?”

Couie, who has been brewing beer for nearly five years, participated in the Good Time Brewers Classic in Lake Charles in September.

All three of Couie’s submissions — the Hessian Trooper Pumpkin Ale, The Crow’s Nest Hawk-Eye Stout and the Privateer Dark American Lager — were awarded bronze medals in their individual categories.

Couie said he will have an English blonde ale on tap Saturday during the cook-off.

Not unlike the hard work all the cooking teams put into the chili cook-off, Couie said he is excited to showcase his beer to those wanting to learn more about the craft.

“We’re doing the same thing as the big breweries, but we can do it with more precision and repeat the same successes more often because it’s on a smaller scale,” Couie said. “This is just like home cooking, and everybody loves home cooking.”

The chili cook-off will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday on the bluff across from Natchez Grand Hotel.

A $5 chili tasting kit will provide a sample of all the chili recipes from local businesses, organizations and friends who will make up the 20 teams participating in the event.

Those wanting to help their favorite recipe win can purchase a people’s choice ballot for $1 each.

A children’s area with a blow-up slide, jumping gym and face painting will also be available for $5 per wristband.

A Skeeter Wilson Deer Stand will be raffled, and a silent auction will be hosted including items such as a signed Drew Brees football, a Redneck Adventures package, pottery, art and toys, among other things.

A “best decorated booth” award will also be given out to the team with the most creatively decorated booth.

Donations will also be accepted for a variety of services offered by the Natchez Children’s Home Services.

The chili cook-off is an annual event Rotary hosts for the Natchez Children’s Home Services.