Industry All Access Exclusive

Beer Awards: Brewing to Win

Brewers who’ve enjoyed repeat success at the judging tables have this advice for their friendly competition: From category selection to packaging methods, you need to sweat the details.

Kate Bernot Feb 12, 2024 - 12 min read

Beer Awards: Brewing to Win Primary Image

Photo: Courtesy Third Eye Brewing

Adrian Garrett had never been to the Great American Beer Festival—or even to Denver—before 2022. His first trip there was a memorable one.

As head brewer at Precarious Beer Project in Williamsburg, Virginia, he and his team won a gold medal in Experimental IPA, a silver in American-Style Lager, and Brewery Group Brewery of the Year. Garrett says it felt like winning the Super Bowl.

“To hear thousands of people cheering for you, when you’re thousands of miles from home, it’s pretty incredible,” he says.

It’s clear why brewers want to win competitions: The admiration of their peers and the broader public is affirming both on the professional and personal levels. Wins are good for the brewery and good for the soul.

However, how to win brewing competitions is the more elusive, million-dollar question. While there’s no single answer, it’s clear that—among breweries that have had repeat success at prestigious competitions—every detail counts. And preparation starts early.

“I think a lot of brewers fall into, ‘Whatever we have [on tap] at the time, we’ll go with that,’” Garrett says. “But myself and our director of brewing operations, Julie Tridente, we put together a map to GABF and World Beer Cup, months out.”

From recipe design to packaging, here are the lessons winning brewers have learned along the way.

Access All of the Brewing Industry Guide

Subscribe today to access all of the in-depth brewing stories & advice you won't find anywhere else (including this article). Subscription includes unlimited access to every brewing report, brewing course (60+), article, video (55+), magazine issue (40+), and more.