Bobbing Bobber Brewing Co. was already gold to its fans, but now it’s golden to the rest of the country — or at least one of its beers is.
The Hutchinson brewery this past weekend earned top prize for best bock beer at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. With 2,295 breweries entering 9,497 different beers into the contest, 3BC co-owner Dan Hart called it the largest brewing contest in the U.S.
“It’s very exciting for us,” Hart said about the award. “It’s one of the goals as a brewer and a brewery to get that big of a recognition on the national scale. We’ve won a number of deals on the homebrew side, but to get a national medal is the big kahuna. ... A lot of brewers chase that forever.”
The award-winning beverage as voted by 322 judges at the competition was Tackle Bock, 3BC’s German-style Maibock that was released this past spring. Co-owner Lane Wanous, who is also the head brewer at 3BC, called the award an honor.
“At first I was just shocked,” he said. “The competition ... is huge. It’s just so massive. To medal in any category, bronze or silver, is a huge accomplishment.”
The Maibock was one of only two beers the brewery entered into the competition, which has 107 categories and averages about 88 entries per category. The Hootie Who Salted Brown was also entered into the specialty beers category.
When deciding what beers to enter, Wanous said he and Hart relied heavily on comments from their fans.
“I’m not going to lie, it was the feedback from our customer base,” he said. “Dan and myself felt really confident after thinking about it that we had a shot at bringing something home with (the Maibock).”
This isn’t the first time 3BC has earned an award that was kind of a big deal. In 2018 the brewery earned first place for best new Minnesota brewery in Growler magazine’s Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Awards.
To honor the award, 3BC is pairing up with another Kind-of-a-Big-Deal award winner, the Parachute Pandas. The band, which includes Hutchinson High School graduates Mike, Tyler and Robb Lauer, took second for best local band. With the help of Mike Lauer, the band’s founder, Hart and Wanous are crafting a special beer to recognize their accomplishments.
“Mike Lauer is a home brewer himself,” Hart said. “So it kind of worked that we took one of his recipes and collaborated to make a beer together. … I believe it’s a Mexican lager.”
“I think the collaboration is a tremendous honor and an exciting opportunity for our band,” Lauer said. “It is surreal having our own beer. With the boom in the craft beer industry, we’ve seen other local and national acts work with brewers in the past. ... To have the privilege to walk through the process of creating a recipe with Lane, 3BC’s head brewer, spending a day at the brewery making the beer, and working with Dan to create an event, has been a real treat.”
The new beverage will be released Saturday, Oct. 19, along with a 7 p.m. performance from the Parachute Pandas featuring Disney music, Christmas karaoke, one-hit wonders and a few surprise appearances from other local musicians.
If the “Game of Thrones” series finale left you wanting more, you might want to head to the Meeker County Fairgrounds later this month for eight hours of medieval action at the War in the North.
The Dallas Warlords, the Kansas City Serpents, the Chicago Land Hydras and the Twin Cities Wyverns of the Armored Combat Sports League will face off in duels of the same weaponry, all out knight fights for men and women, and five-on-five team melees. The team with the most points based on match rankings will be named champion. The tournament will end with a free-for-all brawl.
Pete Moe of Grove City will be fighting for the Twin Cities Wyverns. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, he’ll strap into $3,000 of armor that weighs about 100 pounds and join the fray in what looks to be the state’s first armored combat tournament.
“I’ve played six years of semi-pro football,” he said. “Right when they hike the ball, that rush — (during armored combat) it’s almost constant. There have been multiple times you are going for 90 seconds, and you look back on the video and it’s like, ‘I don’t remember any of that.’ It’s primal. You fall back on your training and use as much aggression as you can possibly use.”
The tournament doesn’t have much in common with staged fights or jousting shows.
“This is real,” Moe said. “I like to describe it as MMA with axes. It’s you against the guy across from you, and whoever is left standing wins. The fights are never the same.”
Moe started the sport in January after retiring from semi-pro football.
“The way I started with football was I was an adult and I thought it was stupid football was a kid’s sport,” he said. “But I found out there was a team in Willmar. The next day I was at their practice.”
In a similar manner, after Moe learned about armored fighting by watching Knight Fight on the History Channel, he looked to see if there was a local team.
“The Wyverns were there. They had practice the next day so I drove up two hours and said let’s do this,” he said.
The team has 12 members, mostly from the Twin Cities area, with Moe and one other member from further out. The team is part of Minnesota Armored Combat, a nonprofit formed as an umbrella for potential future growth in the state.
Practice is five hours on Sunday.
“It’s a nice Sunday routine,” Moe said. “You go there, have physical practice, do drills, kit up and fight each other and practice. Then you talk about how to improve. Then you go have lunch. It’s a nice team-building exercise every week.”
Moe’s entire suit of armor was smithed by a blacksmith and made to stand up to heavy blows. His preferred weapons are an axe and punch shield he uses in unison. The shield, he said, is like an extendable pair of brass knuckles, but also capable of blocking blows and blocking an opponent’s vision. Weapons are not sharp, but they are hefty, and it hurts to be hit when armor isn’t in the way.
“The only rule we have for it is no executioner blows,” Moe said. “If someone is kneeling or bent over you can’t come over the neck with it, and no back of the knees, that’s the least protected part. But otherwise everything is a go except for stabbing. You are not there to put a hole in some guy.”
He described the melee as chaotic.
“You can look behind you one second and know who is back there, and the next second the entire scene changed and you have to be careful or you’ll get an axe to the face,” Moe said.
Though the Wyverns have traveled to other states for armored combat tournaments and taken part in smaller demonstrations in Minnesota, there has not been a tournament in the state. There are teams in the Midwest, but most available tournaments are on the East and West coasts.
“Unfortunately, it’s a coastal sport like everything else,” Moe said. “The Midwest and central states don’t get too much.”
In an effort to turn that around, Moe convinced the team to let him take point, and he started asking around. He was offered what he thought was a reasonable price to bring the event to the Meeker County Fairgrounds.
“I said, ‘Alright, let’s do this,’” he said. “We barely put it out and Dallas and Kansas City said, ‘Let’s do this.’”
Registrations from individual fighters came in swiftly, and now the Wyverns are just as excited to fight in their rounds as they are to watch others fight.
“Of course we’ll take notes,” Moe said.
All tickets will be sold at the gate. They are $10 for adults, $7 for students and $5 for military and first responders. Tickets are free for those age 5 or younger.
“It’s a trial by fire,” Moe said.
Lily’s Wings of St. Cloud and Honky’s bar of Grove City will cater the event. Under Pressure Brewing, which previously hosted a demo for the Minnesota team, is sending kegs of ale.
“It’s kind of a one day Ren Fest,” Moe said. “It’s a combat arms event. If it’s successful ... we are thinking of expanding it to two days, having more groups come in. It would be a really nice weekend.”
Many people have had great ideas they couldn’t pursue due to a lack of funds, and teachers are no different.
But when those ideas could improve education for Hutchinson’s students, it’s better to see them come to fruition. That’s the idea behind an endowment fund created by the ISD 423 School Foundation in 2008. Money donated to the fund is invested, and as that investment makes money, the money is used to create grants for Hutchinson teachers.
Since 2014, the fund has granted $19,752 to 35 projects that have touched 7,600 students. Each year, the recipients are honored at Homecoming, and at Friday night’s football game the scene was no different as teachers and students were called out onto the field at half time. Here are the 2019 recipients:
A $1,000 grant was awarded to Masey McDowell, Park Elementary STEM teacher, for STEM bins and manipulatives. The purchase will help students explore, engineer and play while developing science, technology, engineering and math skills.
Nesha Withers accepted a check for $970 on behalf of all fourth-grade teachers for extended reading book boxes. Their students will be able to enjoy more independent reading options.
Hutchinson High School Special Education teachers Amy Nisse and Cheryl Marelic accepted a grant for $950 for an employment and life skills business program. It will allow high school special education students to create, sell and market a product to gain work and life experience.
Park Elementary Special Education teacher Corrine McCloud accepted a $102 grant for her department’s special wooden barn quilt project. A Hutchinson Tigers barn quilt will be made by students to promote math skills, practice patience and self-control, and promote teamwork and problem-solving. The completed project will be on display at Park Elementary.
Occupational therapist Susan Boor accepted $1,000 for a sensory path for students in pre-kindergarten through first grade. The path will allow special learners to practice skills that will help them participate in general education classrooms.
Amanda Langins accepted $510 on behalf of second-grade teachers for the purchase of STEAM bins. The bins will be used to promote playful learning among second graders in the realms of science, technology, engineering, art and math.
Kathryn Vesely and Lisa Ditlefsen accepted $1,000 on behalf of the Early Childhood Family Education department. The grant will go toward a program called “Making Memories: Just My Grandma/Grandpa and Me.” A series of events will aim to help grandparents who are supporting their children as parents, and to help grandparents who are caregivers for grandchildren.