Last time I won a ribbon for anything was during my fourth grade spelling bee, where I placed third after incorrectly spelling the word “restaurant” (I went with restaraunt). In retrospect, I should have at least gotten a blue ribbon for not wetting myself, considering how nervous I was standing in front of my entire school. But that’s a whole different story.

Well, I was very excited to learn recently that my raspberry wheat stout was the recipient of two home brewing awards:

  • Gold medal winner in the Minnesota Renaissance Festival’s Byggvir’s Big Beer Cup, Eclectic – Fruit Beer category
  • White ribbon winner (third place) in the Minnesota State Fair’s Home Brew Competition, Fruit Beer category

I’ve brewed this beer a handful of times in the past, each time making some slight iterations here and there. For this batch, I think the incorporation of wheat in the grain bill was a key factor, helping to smooth out and balance the darker malts for a better overall mouthfeel and texture. The combination of roasted malt and distinctive berry aroma is the clincher, in my opinion, enveloping you right away with its intoxicating perfume.

The objective commentary from the judges in both competitions was really valuable, the sole reason I enter these things in the first place. And interesting to get some insights into the beer that I frankly hadn’t even thought about going into things. For example, many thought the beer had some prominent coffee notes in the taste, which after sampling the stout again I definitely agree with. Also, a few felt the alcohol heat was just a tad on the high side…not distracting, but maybe too much for some tastes. I see what they’re saying, and I’m taking it into account for the next batch I brew.  

It’s just kind of nice when, despite your best efforts as a home brewer to inevitably screw something up, it all comes together.

Rating: A