Bethlehem beer wins heady accolades

January 16, 2008 4:47:19 PM PST
Like an amateur alchemist, a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania man has turned his hobby into gold. Or more precisely, golden ale. Christopher Bowen is a basement brewer who quite simply loves beer.

And Bowen's love for beer comes into sharp focus when you step into the basement of his home.

It is where he's been refining a homemade brew of his own making called HammerSmith Beer.

Over the years he's made so much beer that he moved it into his wife's wine cellar in the back end of the basement. "There's still some wine," Bowen says, "but it's predominantly beer."

His beer was running rough-shod over other brews in local and regional competitions. So he recently took HammerSmith to the Super Bowl of beer contests - the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado.

There, he faced off against some of the biggest names in the beer making business like Miller and Coors, not to mention dozens of other "craft brewers."

And in the end, the beer invented by one man in a basement in Bethlehem, rose to take the top prize. "I think there were 109 judges that judged there," Bowen said, recalling the heady moment while holding the medal, "And it was voted the best beer, best of show."

Bowen now says he is getting offers to either sell his recipe or start a business with a line of beers.

But he says he's happy with life as a financial planner who just happens to make one fine basement brew.

And gets to wear a medal that for him, is as good as gold.