If you’re a brewer at Payette Brewing Co. in Boise, you’re part of a rotation of two-month shifts at the brewery’s former Garden City headquarters.
While your co-workers crank out vats of popular recipes such as Blood Orange Rustler at Payette’s expansive new production facility, you concoct smaller, experimental batches. Payette’s old brewhouse has evolved into its unofficial mad-scientist lab.
That’s where brewer Matt Watterson crafted a tasty Schwarzer — a traditional style of black, German lager.
After tasting the beer, Payette staffers agreed: This puppy needed to be entered in a competition.
Last month, Payette’s Schwarzbier won gold in the Dark Lager category at the San Diego International Beer Competition. Payette’s High Side American Wheat also took home bronze in the American Wheat Ale division. The competition is dominated by California breweries, but last year, it had 1,374 entries from 254 breweries in 28 states and 14 countries.
Mother Earth Brew Co. of Vista, Calif. — which opened a Nampa brewery in 2016 — also picked up gold. Its Renown Brown wowed judges in the American-Style Brown Ale category.
Breweries that won awards will have their beers served June 16-18 at the San Diego International Beer Festival, the West Coast’s largest beer festival. Payette hopes to send a staffer to represent the brewery, marketing director Paige Coyle says.
It’s fun to see how an Idaho brewery fares against heavy hitters in California such as Ballast Point and Stone. But the biggest benefit of beer competitions is the constructive criticism from judges, Coyle says. “It’s cool winning medals, but it’s definitely more about the feedback we like to get.”
Payette normally enters two or three competitions each year, Coyle says. It can be costly to enter. Most local breweries pick and choose. If they’re savvy, they seek out niche categories among the oceans of IPAs and other popular styles.
This was the first time Payette entered the San Diego contest.
“We haven’t done a ton,” Coyle says. “That’s where it’s kind of getting fun. As these guys are brewing awesome beers over in Garden City — stuff we don’t normally brew — we come across some winners in our mind. And so we submit them.”
Earlier this year, Idaho breweries Sockeye Brewing and Wallace Brewing earned props at the Best of Craft Beer Awards in Bend, Ore. Sockeye’s Maibock spring seasonal won gold in the Bock or Doppelbock category, Huggy Bear Dark Sour took silver in the American-Style Sour Ale division, and Power House Porter earned silver in Brown Porter. Wallace Brewing won gold for its 1910 Black Lager in the German-Style Schwarzbier category. (Hey, we might need to side-by-side that one and Payette’s Schwarzbier soon, right?)
Sockeye has stacked up significant hardware in recent years. It’s won multiple awards at the national granddaddy of brew events, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver.
So far, Payette hasn’t cracked the winners’ circle at GABF. But after taking gold in San Diego, Payette probably will include Schwarzbier among its GABF entries in 2017, Coyle says.
Win or lose, it’s always worth it for the feedback.
“It would be cool, though,” she admits, “to be at GABF and walk up on stage and accept a medal.”
Read More at source: Idaho Statesman