August 7, 2014
Syracuse, NY

The Great New York State Fair Announces “Best of Show” at Its Annual Homebrew Competition

The Great New York State Fair Announces “Best of Show” at Its Annual Homebrew Competition

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball and Acting Director of the New York State Fair Troy Waffner today announced that Rochester home brewer Sean Coughlin’s beer rose to the top of a class of 405 entries to be judged Best of Show at the State Fair’s annual Homebrew Competition.  His Belgian Dark Strong Ale, called “Abbey Cat”, had won its category and was one of 25 category winners up for the top honor.

“I was pretty shocked to win,” Coughlin said. He was one of the volunteer judges of the competition (he did not judge his category) and was scheduled to judge the Best of Show when a contest official tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to leave the room.

Coughlin is more than a beer fan.  He works for Genesee Brewing in Rochester managing the company’s online store and providing in-house beer education.  He’s been a judge for the competition for the last three years and decided that “as long as I’m judging, I might as well enter.”

Judges heaped praise on the brew.  "An excellent beer. No technical flaws were noticed. A nice malt profile draws you to the beer. The flavors with the malt, phenols and esters are well balanced," one judge wrote.  Coughlin’s beer had been aging for about a year and a half by the time of the contest.

The F.X. Matt Brewing Company in Utica, will bottle and enter the beer in the Great American Beer Festival’s national competition in Colorado.

“This competition is exactly the kind of thing that brings emphasis to New York State products," said Nick Matt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of F.X. Matt Brewing Company. “We’re glad to host the winner to brew in our nanobrewery.  It’s a unique and fun experience for both the homebrewer and our team.  Then to have this beer entered into the country’s most coveted competition in the industry, the Great American Beer Festival, now that’s really something special."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “This competition brought some of the best homebrewers across the state together to show what they could do. There are number of varieties of homebrews and the State Fair’s competition does an incredible job of gathering them from around the state to compete. Congratulations to all participants.”

Troy Waffner, the Acting Director said, “The fair’s competitions bring out the best of New York, and this competition was no exception. Hosting this year’s Homebrew Competition was an excellent experience and I look forward to seeing how ‘Abbey Cat’ does at the Great American Beer Festival’s national competition.”

Robert Sells of Fredonia took both second place and fourth place Best of Show for his Old Ale, named “Old And In The Way,” and his Kolsch, named “Summer Schwill.”  Mark Zambron of West Seneca took third place honors for “The Watcher,” a Weizen/Weissbier.

This year, 137 homebrewers entered 405 beers in the competition.

The New York State Fair, operated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, runs from August 21 – September 1, 2014.  The Fair’s mission, reflected in its 2014 theme, “Summer’s Best in Show,” is to showcase the best of New York agriculture while providing top-quality entertainment.  This year’s tagline – “New Attractions, Old Favorites, Timeless Fun” – highlights the more than two dozen new events and attractions and the expansion or enhancement of several Fairgoer favorites.

In addition to the annual New York State Fair, the Fairgrounds host dozens of agricultural events throughout the year, including some of the Northeast’s most prestigious horse and livestock shows.

The home of the Great New York State Fair is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. A year-round schedule of events is available on the Fair’s website.  Find The Great New York State Fair on Facebook, follow @NYSFair on Twitter, and enjoy photos from the Fair at Also, New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair at [email protected].