A day with chili is a good day. A day with beer is a better day. A day with chili and beer—that might be the best day one can have.
Hoboken Volunteers will host their 7th Annual Chili Cook-Off and Homebrewing Contest this Saturday, February 20 at OLG Gym (5th & Willow), featuring over twenty different chili entries—to be washed down with two-dozen samples of the finest area homebrew. Keeping the atmosphere festive will be live music from Gravy Train.
“Hoboken Volunteers was founded to provide an online clearinghouse where local community activists can connect with organizations, foundations, and groups who require the assistance of volunteers,” says coordinator Tim Occhipinti. “Our mission is to strengthen our community by making it easier for members of Hoboken’s community to donate their valuable time to worthwhile organizations.”
The Chili Cook-Off has been the organization’s marquee event, growing steadily over the past six years. “We started in the back room of The Shannon then moved to the Elks Lodge—and now we are at OLG Gym, the largest venue in town,” says Occhipinti. “We added the homebrew competition in year three and the event exploded.”
The homebrewing competition is no slouch—this is serious judging, giving the brews the scrutiny and industry-standard analysis they deserve.
“Brews are analyzed via BJCP (Beer Judging Certification Program) and AHA (American Homebrewers Association) standards,” says Andrew Brown, of 902 Brewing. “One of the judges is a certified cicerone—the beer equivalent of a sommelier.”
While the beer is certainly guaranteed to please, it’s the chili that has always been the big draw.
“When judging I look at the presentation,” says Poch. “You eat with your eyes first, does it look appetizing? Or is it too sloppy? Too runny it’s soup, too thick its a manwich. So I look for something in the middle.”As for flavor, Poch says, “There are a lot of ingredients in chili, so it should have a lot of different flavors. I prefer beans in my chili personally, but can appreciate bean-less as well. The beans should still have some crispness to them instead of mushy. All chili should have some heat to it, but don’t drown out flavor by trying to be too hot.” He adds, “I try not to taste with cheese or sour cream, those are fun to add flavor, but a good chili shouldn’t need it.”
Former Chili Cook-Off champ Abbey Bell concurs. “My advice—make sure your chili tastes like chili. I tasted a lot of Bolognese and salsa-like samples. Be sure to use enough chili powder and bring on the heat,” she says. “My secret—I make my own chili powder using a blend of 5 different dried peppers.”
This year’s panel of esteemed judges will set out on a culinary quest to find best chili and beer in town, including Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, the owner of Toney Boloney’s, Mike Hauke and Pitmaster at House of Que, Mike Rodriguez.Winners of Best Judged Chili and Best Judged Beer, Fan Favorite Chili and Fan Favorite Beer will receive gift certificates from various local businesses.
The top prize is a $200 gift certificate from Dino & Harry’s for Best Judged Chili. Best Judged winners will be provided a championship trophy. The Homebrew champion will win opportunity to brew with 902 Brewing on a commercial brewing system, scaling up from 5-gallon brew to over 400 gallons (12 Barrel System).
“We are excited to benefit TRUE Mentors in our 7th year as they are providing an invaluable service to Hoboken’s youth community, said Tim Occhipinti, founder of Hoboken Volunteers. With the support of our contestants, patrons, sponsors, volunteers and businesses we are looking forward to another great event.”
Tickets are $40 and include chili and beer samplings and a commemorative glass while supplies last. For more information on the event or the organization, visit www.hobokenvolunteers.
Tickets can be purchased at www.hvchili16.eventbrite.com
Also, stop by House of ‘Que for the afterparty, hosted by Don’t Sit Home.