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HARRISONBURG — The Friendly Fermenter and Pale Fire Brewing are teaming up to host a new dual homebrew and chili cook-off to benefit a local nonprofit that helps homeless families get back on their feet.

The inaugural Beans & Brews Festival will be held at Pale Fire, located at 217 S. Liberty St., on Sept. 29 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Because of laws enforced by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the homebrew competition had to be done separately from the festival.

Shawn Gatesman, owner of The Friendly Fermenter, said homebrew and commercial beer cannot be served at the same event.

To get around the law, the Friendly Fermenter brewed the beer based on the winning recipe.

On July 16, the judges chose a black IPA brewed by Kate Bailey, president of the Harrisonburg Homebrewers Club. The name of the beer is called “Without A Doubt.”

“It was very nice to drink,” Gatesman said. “It was the most well-executed with the least amount of flaws. When you get in homebrew competitions, some of the beers can be significantly flawed.”

Bailey’s is the official beer of the 2018 Beans & Brews Festival. The Friendly Fermenter and Pale Fire will sell the beer commercially starting on Sept. 29. Only a limited amount will be available.

Gatesman also came up with the idea for an amateur chili competition.

Gatesman wanted to create a contest for the general public. The annual Rocktown Chili Throwdown that was held in August pitted downtown restaurant chefs against each other.

To enter the Beans & Brews chili contest, participants must be nonprofessionals who must prepare and serve at least six quarts of their own chili at the festival.

The organizers will accept up to 18 chili entries. Anyone can register to be a judge, which allows individuals to taste all of the chili submissions and vote for their favorite.

The people’s choice award will be announced at the end. The cost to sign up to be a judge is $10, which will go to the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bridge of Hope.

nterested individuals can sign up until the day of the festival to be a chili judge. Registration can be completed online at

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