Two beers brewed by a Colorado State University senior in the Fermentation Science and Technology Program have won medals in the U.S. Beer Open Championship’s first-ever collegiate competition.
James Macdonald, the senior teaching assistant for the program, brewed three beers last spring for the U.S. Beer Open College Beer Championship, which was open to colleges around the country that have beer-brewing courses. Two of the three won bronze medals in the competition.
In the India Pale Ale category, CSU took bronze for Jack’s Front Yard IPA, which was brewed with spruce tips harvested from a Colorado Blue Spruce owned by CSU Fermentation Science and Technology Professor Jack Avens.
“I wanted to get away from the traditional citrus and floral tones,” Macdonald says. “When I mentioned the idea of adding spruce to the IPA, Jack’s face lit up and he said, ‘I’ve got a blue spruce in my front yard!’”
The other medal-winning beer, in the witbier category, was Abduction Wit, which was brewed from a Belgian wit recipe created by CSU instructor Jeff Biegert for the brewing science course a few years ago.
Macdonald began brewing about five years ago, when he was the news director for a cluster of radio stations in Montrose, Colorado. While living there, he was mentored by a brewer at the Horsefly Brewing Co. After leaving radio and moving back to his hometown of Fort Collins, he began working toward a bachelor’s degree and taking fermentation science courses at CSU in Fall 2014.
Macdonald said the third beer he entered, in the “open” category, was a Belgian wit to which he added raspberries. The entries were shipped to the competition in Oxford, Ohio, at the end of May, judged in June. Winners were announced in July.
Others involved in brewing the award-winning beers were Katie Fromuth, lab manager for the Fermentation Science and Technology Program; Harmonie Akers, a graduate student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition; and Hunter Gloss, an undergraduate student in Fermentation Science and Technology.