When Michael Rogers was named the 2018 Homebrewer of the Year in Portland this summer — beating out 3,517 other homebrewers from across the world — he was home in Wichita.
He really didn’t think he could justify taking off from his job at Wichita State University to go to the awards ceremony, especially given that he’d never received so much as a medal at the National Homebrew Competition, despite having entered for four years in a row.
“I really didn’t have any real reason to go,” he said. “It’s not like I was expecting to win it.”
Rogers, a member of the Wichita Homebrewers Organization, started brewing his own beer long before homebrewing was a trendy thing to do. It was 1996, and his wife bought him a brewing kit as a gift.
He enjoyed making his first batch, so he just keep going, adding things to his process and tweaking his recipes. He didn’t have many role models, though.
He kept brewing and would frequently make beers he’d share with friends and neighbors.
“I have several friends who come over and enjoy it,” Rogers said. “I don’t know if they like it because it’s free or because it’s good.”
He called his home brewery “ParaDocs Brewery,” a reference to the fact that Rogers and his wife are both PhDs. Rogers is a professor of human performance studies, and he’s been at WSU for 20 years. His wife, Nicki, has a PhD in human factors and is chair of Public Health Sciences at Wichita State.
Rogers said he’s never seriously considered becoming a professional brewer, though he has been invited a few times to consult with some of Wichita’s big-name brewers, including Nortons Brewing Company’s Dan Norton, back when he worked at River City Brewing Company.
But his job at WSU is too good to give up, Rogers said, so he’ll continue making his homebrews — now with extra inspiration because of his big national win.
The beer that won him the trophy — and that also took the gold medal in the Specialty IPA category — was a white IPA, which Rogers said “combines the hoppiness of the IPA with Belgian yeast.”
When his beer was named the gold medalist in the category, a friend who was at the convention, put on by the American Homebrewers Association, called to let him know.
He called again when Rogers was announced as Homebrewer of the Year. But Rogers didn’t 100 percent believe it was true until he watched a replay of a live stream of the ceremony later.
“I thought they got it wrong somehow,” he said. “I honestly thought, ‘There’s got to be a mistake. It’s got to be another Michael Rogers.”
Rogers wasn’t the only Wichita homebrewer who won at the National Homebrew Competition.
Wichitan Michael Wilcox, who is a member of the Kansas City Bier Meisters, was named the Meadmaker of the year.
And Tyler Cipriani, a Longmont, Colorado, resident who listed himself as a member of the Wichita Homebrewers Organization, won third place in the German Wheat Beer category.