How Entering International Competitions Can Benefit Your Brewery

Pedal Haus Brewery in downtown Tempe, Arizona is no stranger to winning awards. Following its naming of Best Brewery in America at the Copa Cervezas de América beer competition, and recognition in both the Los Angeles International Beer Competition and International Beer Awards Excellence in Brewing N.A.B.A. earlier this year, Beer Director Derek “Doc” Osborne gave his insights into how Pedal Haus prepares for competitions of this magnitude.

This was Pedal Haus’ first year competing in Copa Cervezas de América, which began in 2011.  Previously, sending beer to another country was a difficult process. This year, Osborne found that there was a drop-off site in California, and that Copa was using the 2015 BJCP style guidelines, meaning the brewery would get feedback about the beer, which could be useful going forward.

“The guidelines used are similar to our guidelines at Pedal Haus Brewery so getting feedback from someone who was potentially from another country was exciting for us,” Osborne said. “I can then use the judge’s feedback to either change the recipe or choose a different category to enter that beer going forward. Often we like the beer the way it is — but judges consistently don’t — then we can choose to enter other beers and save some money.”

Osborne said he really just wanted feedback on how the beers are for the everyday consumer. So sometimes that just means entering a fresher beer instead of others.

All the beers had to ship at the same time for Copa, and they had all aged. Even though local breweries had an advantage time-wise, Osborne considers US hop varieties to be his own advantage in the Pacific Northwest. 

“It is worth mentioning that New Zealand, South Africa and South America are rapidly gaining respect with hop farming as well but I wouldn’t trade them for what we are able to find in Yakima, Washington,” Osborne said. 

Pedal Haus’ White Rabbit IPA won a gold medal in the White & Belgian IPA category.

“Our White Rabbit Hazy IPA that won the gold uses Amarillo, Mosaic, Ekuanot and some experimental varieties that give a citrus, dark fruit and dank resinous note that I just couldn’t get from the other regional hops.”

Bière Blanche took the gold in the Witbier category. The Day Drinker Lager was recognized with a bronze medal in the American Light Lager category.

“Bière Blanche uses hops that are more noble in flavor and aroma,” Osborne said. Those hops are best sourced from Germany and the Czech Republic in my opinion. So again it is possible that the home-field advantage didn’t add up to much for South American Breweries in those categories.”

Osborne said the Light Lager category is dominated by macro breweries and is proud of his third place in that category. “[They] employ really smart and talented people and have really nice equipment, he said. “They have all the advantages to dominate that category and I am proud that they let their guard down and allowed me to sneak one past their goalie.”

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