Students in the Brewing and Brewery Operations program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University received one gold medal, two silver medals, and one bronze medal for their beer creations at the 2021 U.S. Open College Beer Championship earlier this month.
This year marks the fourth year in a row KPU students have brought home medals from the annual competition. The championship is meant to exhibit the best future brewers in North America and is the only competition exclusively for post-secondary institutions that offer brewing and fermentation programs or courses.
KPU Brewing also tied for second place overall among the top brewing schools in North America.
All beers were submitted by one of the school’s brewing instructors with over nine categories to choose from, such as pale ales, IPAs, Lagers, and more.
Out of 132 styles of beer students could create, KPU won gold in the American Amber/Red Ale category for Birra Rossa, brewed by at the time first-year students Michael Hodgson, Peter Bartnik, and Donghwan Chang.
“Seeing our students pour their passion into their brewing and receive this recognition on an international level from the U.S. Open College Beer Championship is incredibly rewarding,” said Betty Worobec, dean of the Faculty of Science and Horticulture, in a press release.
Second-year students and graduates Emily Comeau, Rebecca Deil, and Alex Paul won a silver medal in the Hybrids Coconut category for their Noble Steed Coconut Porter.
“My partner Alex always wanted to create a coconut porter. He loved Swan Brewery’s coconut porter and wanted to recreate something like that. All three of us love dark berries [and] we love coconut, so it was just a match made in heaven,” says Comeau.
“This was our capstone brewing project, so Rebecca, Emily and I were fully responsible for creating the recipe, brewing, analysis and quality control, as well as being involved with marketing and sales of our beer,” said Paul in a press release to KPU.
From two runs through the brewing process to the beer being packaged for sale, Comeau says the project took roughly three and a half months, with sales beginning April 9.
She says this was her first time competing and is grateful for her partners in the collaboration and the brewing instructors for sending their beer in the competition.
“None of us were aware that our beer was submitted just because of COVID,” says Comeau. “The instructors are amazing in this program. We wouldn’t have gotten this award if we weren’t supported in the way that we were with our education.”
The other silver medal was awarded to then first-year students Jacob Wideman, Colton Yakabuski, and Chang for their Pale Ale in the American Strong Pale Ale category.
In addition, KPU Brewing students Philip Chrinko, Kevin Reid, Kayla Gibson, and Wakana Sakurai won bronze for their Helles Lager.
“That type of beer is a hard beer to make right. You have to do everything right, or else you can taste anything that’s off about it. It’s definitely one of the trickier ones to get an award for,” says Reid.
Chrinko and Reid say it was their first time entering into the competition, and because of how classes were set up last year due to the pandemic, they had to split up the work.
They say half of the class went in the morning and would start the brewing process, while the rest of the students would come in the afternoon to finish the brew and clean up afterwards.
Chrinko says the most enjoyable part of the championship was to “show the other schools that KPU has the chops to compete [and] can make an amazing beer even in COVID times.”