​Where Are Your Medals Hanging and Why?​

​With the Great American Beer Festival approaching this weekend, it reminds me of my recent trip to Toppling Goliath. Owner Clark Lewey gave me a tour of the Decorah, Iowa facility for the September/October cover story and one thing I noted was that the brewery had a multitude of medals in a very interesting spot.

Many times you see awards presented in a taproom or ​behind the bar, but Lewey has a different idea on where the glory should be presented.

“We don’t hang our medals in our taproom, we don’t show them off to people,” he told me as we stood on the deck of the brewhouse. instead, the medals were all hanging from the rails. “I want the team that makes them to see him every day and to understand what we’re trying to do and to feel recognized, that they’ve achieved that to some extent.”

Toppling Goliath doesn’t enter everything either, he said.

“We budget for what we’re going to enter because ultimately you end up paying to enter and then what is your ROI really after that,” he said. “It is great for the brewers.”

That led me to another question about craft beer judging and contests. Does it even matter?

READ MORE: Planning Brewing Schedules Post Competition

“We typically don’t brew to a style and that can be an issue,” Lewey admitted. “But sometimes it is very helpful, the feedback. There are other times … it’s not. There’s one big contest each year, and you’re lucky to have one or two people taste your beer. And, how many beers is the judge tasting a day?

“I understand it, it’s hard. The most important feedback we like is from the consumer if you want to know the truth.”

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