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Monday, April 15, 2024

Aggie staff homebrewers get crafty


Fourth annual staff brewing competition at UC Davis

The Fourth Annual UC Davis Staff Brewing Competition was held in the Buehler Alumni Center on Friday, May 11, featuring IPAs, ales and ciders all homebrewed by talented UC Davis staff members and graduate students.

With tasting glasses in hand, tasters made their way around the stations, sipping the unique creations.

“We had 28 entries this year: 15 IPAs, eight brown ales and five ciders,” said Jeremy Dalveck, an administrative IT staff member at UC Davis and one of the key organizers of the brewing competition. “We had about 15 teams enter this year, but a lot of those teams brewed in two or three different categories.”

Most of the competitors are amateur hobbyists, brewing out of their kitchens and garages.

“This year we have about 11 judges, a mix of [Beer Judge Certification Program] certified judges, industry professionals, we had the brew master from Three Mile Brewing Company in Davis, and we also had a cider professional help out,” Dalveck said. “Then we had some other home brewers help out who are experienced with competitions. They all met up at Sactown Union Brewery last night and spent about three hours scoring and providing feedback on all of the entries and they selected the best of each category.”

Six awards were given to Best Specialty IPA, Best Brown, Best Cider, Best of Show, People’s Choice and Best Label. The judges deliberated the winners of all of the categories, with the exception of “People’s Choice,” which was decided by the 252 tasters who attended the event.

Last year’s winners, Nick Harden and twin brothers Jared and Ryan Duncan, or team “Hop Heads,” came back with two entries this year: a New England IPA and a dry hop cider. Their dry hop cider took home the Best Cider award this year.

“The cider, we were going for a dry white wine character,” said Ryan Duncan, a UC Davis utilities worker in the machine shop. “Two ounces of hops with a five-gallon batch of beer, just a cider, no back sweetening.”

They currently make five gallon batches using minimal equipment, but hope to expand by doubling the size of their batches. The team jokingly explained their homebrewing operation was moved to the garage after they were “kicked out” of the kitchen.

“Then we have the New England IPA which has a lot of tropical hops, really low bitterness, but more hop flavor and aroma,” Ryan Duncan said. “Real smooth mouth feel, not bitter or harsh is kind of what we were going for.”

The trio previously went by the team name “Here for Beer,” and last year, their stout entry swept the board, winning three awards.

“Our stout last year won judges choice [for Best Stout], people’s choice, and best of show,” said Nick Harden, an instrumentation and control staff member at UC Davis. “It was a chocolate oatmeal stout, we used a lot of cacao nibs and a lot of oats.”

This year’s winner of the Best Specialty IPA and the Best of Show awards was microbiology and immunology graduate student Beau Parry for his hazy IPA, “Beyond Pale.”

“Hazy IPAs are relatively new style, in fact for all the beer categories there are as far as tasting notes go, there’s no category for a hazy IPA because it’s so brand new,” Parry said. “They only revise the tasting guide for beer judges every so often, and hazy IPA hasn’t been added in yet.”

Emerging from the basements of homebrewers, the relatively new hazy-styled New England IPA trend was spawned by homebrewers, according to Parry. In recent years this style has been popularized by big names on the East Coast such as Tree House Brewing Co. and The Alchemist.

“It’s unique style because it goes against a lot of the dogma with most beers, it’s meant to be hazy,” Parry said. “Most brewers consider good beer to be very clear.”

This has to do with fining agents, Parry explained. Typically, the protein and yeast drop out of solution before you serve the beer. However, with hazy IPAs, late hop additions, the types of yeast strains used along with the higher protein malts all contribute to its cloudy, hazy appearance.

“The big difference is that we tend to do aroma additions,” Parry said. “So for the hazy IPA that I brewed, I added late addition hops, which actually contribute less to bitterness and more to aroma.”

Parry also won the Best Brown award for his “Bigly Brown” ale.

“Brown ales are way simpler,” Parry said. “They are brewed in the typical style of an ale which is a standard process for most beers. Except it’s low IBU and you add roasted malts to get a toffee-caramel character to it.”

Color is used as a gauge for how much roasted malt to add. Too much and it is considered a stout or a porter, which is much darker than a brown ale.

“You want to strike a nice balance so you get a nice brown character, it’s mild, it doesn’t have a lot of hops in it,” Parry said. “Brown ales are also lower in ABV so it’s around 5 percent.”

Despite winning three awards and his extensive knowledge on brewing, Parry is a new homebrewer.

“I just started brewing a year ago, but I’m a microbiologist so I like to do a lot of research before I do anything,” Parry said. “So these are recipes that I’ve stolen and tweaked some things and made them my own […] It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to go online and find a recipe.”

The full list of results for the competition were as follows:

  1. Best Cider – a dry hopped cider by Hop Heads (led by Jared Duncan, FACILITIES MANAGEMENT)
  2. Best Specialty IPA – Beyond Pale by Team 6 (led by Beau Parry, MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY)
  3. Best Brown – Bigly Brown by Team 20 (led by Beau Parry, MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY)
  4. Best of Show – Beyond Pale by Team 6 (led by Beau Parry, MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY)
  5. People’s Choice – Red IPA by One HR (led by Guerren Solbach, HUMAN RESOURCES)
  6. Best Label – Dad Bod IPA by Beer Belly Brew (led by Ellen Jordan, DEVAR)


“It’s nice to see different departments come together who otherwise wouldn’t really be in contact,” Dalveck said. “I hope it does [continue to grow in years to come], I really like it because it spreads the hobby of homebrewing and it gets people together.”



Written by: Grace Simmons — features@theaggie.org


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