Dixie Cup History

When homebrewing was legalized in Texas in 1983, the Foam Rangers celebrated by "organizing" their first pub crawl in June and decided to "come out of the closet" and host a public homebrew competition. We had been hosting "in-house" competitions since our inception in 1981, but with our new-found legal status, we decided to have one open to the public even publicize it. The owners of Munchies volunteered to host the competition, so in November 1983, the First Annual All-Houston Homebrew Competition was held. With around 80 entries some even from out-of-town we had a lot more than we expected.

The next fall, 1984, we decided to drop the "All Houston" nature of the contest and go for a legitimate regional competition. The Orange Show, which was a great place for the event, if not a great place for a homebrew competition, was chosen as the venue. On November 3, 1984, we held the First Annual Dixie Cup Homebrew Competition with 112 entries. The Foam Rangers beat the Malthoppers of Bryan-College Station, but it was close.

The Dixie Cup grew quickly, and in 1986 we had nearly 400 entries, making the Dixie Cup the largest regional competition in the country at the time. We also sold t-shirts and gave a BJCP exam at the event for the first time in 1986.

In 1987, the Dixie Cup was held "under the big top" in front of DeFalco's. Fred Eckhardt made his inaugural visit to the Dixie Cup that year, showing a slide show of Brew Kettles of the Pacific Northwest.

The Dixie Cup was first held at a hotel in 1988, and involved a run-in with the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) when they "re-interpreted" the Code and decreed that homemade wine and beer could only be consumed in the producer's home, and could not even be transported despite the fact that we had written permission from the TABC to hold a contest before the first event at the Orange Show in 1984. A bottle of the infamous Brain Death Barleywine (with the "special hops") made an appearance and took out four brave tasters.

Thanks to the encounter with the TABC, we had to lobby the state legislature in 1989 to legalize home beer and wine competitions, even though they were legal anyway and the home winemakers had been holding wine competitions for at least 15 years before including competitions at the State Fair.

Continuing with a string of firsts, the 1989 Dixie Cup marked the first Fred Tasting (Beer and Chocolate), while the 1990 Dixie Cup brought the first Dixie Cup commemorative beer (Old Fred, which was an unhopped, strong Trappist-style ale) to go with the theme ("A Renaissance of Brewing").

In 1996, we had the task of judging 982 entries from 299 brewers. The Kings of Tasteless Music and Flatulence (aka, Crescent City Homebrewers) showed up with truly tasteless aprons which sported a very erect penis when raised. This was done to "one up" the Boston Wort Processors who had arrived the previous year with anatomically correct inflatable sheep. The Crescent City crowd got many chances to raise their aprons each time one of them won a ribbon. In fact, the Foam Rangers got trounced that year, losing the Dixie Cup to the Central Florida Homebrewers for the second year in a row. Crescent City was in a close second, followed by the North Texas Homebrewers Association in third. The Foam Rangers were left in the dust and were subjected, again, to monthly postcards from Florida showing the Dixie Cup being abused in various locations around Florida.

With a determination not to allow the Dixie Cup to be abused for a third year in Florida, the Foam Rangers were able to recapture the Dixie Cup in 1997, although it was a very close contest. The Foam Rangers held onto the Dixie Cup until 2000 when North Texas captured it. However, the Foam Rangers recaptured the Dixie Cup in 2001 and have managed to hold on to it ever since.

The year 2002 brought a "frightful" number of entries as we celebrated the "Night of the Living Fred" with 967 entries, making the Dixie Cup the largest single-site competition in the world. The following year, 2003, was more bountiful as the "Dixie Cup Got Lei'd" with 1,013 entries, making it the largest Dixie Cup ever. The Houston area also swept all of the major awards and were three of the top four clubs.

The Dixie Cup hit the jackpot in 2004, drawing 1,138 entries, making the 21st annual Dixie Cup the largest in history. For three years in a row, the Dixie Cup was the largest single-site homebrew competition in the world.

Fred retired from hosting his eponymous tasting in 2008 and since that time brewing luminaries, like Garrett Oliver, Ray Daniels and Randy Mosher taking on Fred's role as emcee to the rowdy reunion of beer, food and fun.

Our guest speakers at Saturday's milliconference have included such luminaries as Pierre Celis, Ray Daniels, George Fix, John Maier, Dave Miller, Fritz Maytag, and Chris White, just to name a few.

In 2012 the Dixie Cup again hit new highs, with 1168 entries and also saw the return of the Lone Star Circuit trophy to the Foam Rangers.

This year's thirty-third Dixie Cup promises to be one for the history books as well!