The challenge pitted nine Denver-area startups to create and present a home-brewed beer for the judges and guests. GoSpotCheck won first place in the People’s Choice voting and took home second-place honors in the judged competition. The following is a first-hand account of the event and brewing process from GoSpotCheck Data Analyst and in-house Master Brewer Ben Ertz.
Serving home-brewed beer to strangers can be nerve racking. Couple that with serving beer that was brewed in your CEO and co-founder’s backyard is a reason to have your blood pressure checked.
The idea for GoSpotCzech (get it?) was born after tossing back a few brews to get our creative juices flowing. The company agreed on the name of the beer, but now had to find a brew that would feature a variety of Czech hops known as Saaz. We decided on going with a Belgian-style blonde ale that would use the Saaz hops to aid in the beer’s aroma.
Four weeks prior to the event I met with Matt Talbot, our CEO and Co-Founder, at his house with our ingredients and a turkey fryer in tow. We were determined to brew a beer that would be enjoyed by seasoned beer veterans as well as casual weekend suds sippers.
The brewing process is quite easy. In its most basic form, brewing beer is making tea with malt grains. The malt is steeped in hot water to extract sugars. After the tea has been made, the tea is strained from the malt and then the tea is boiled. The boiling helps concentrate the tea, making the sugars in the tea more digestible for the yeast, and also sanitizing the beer—making it safe for drinking. During different intervals in the boiling process, hops are added. In beer, hops work in three ways—first they impart bitterness to beer, second they add to the aroma of the beer and third they preserve the beer for storage. Once the beer has been boiled—typically a 60- or 90-minute boil—you are ready to cool the beer and add the yeast.
Now it’s time to wait for the magic to happen. After two weeks, the yeast has consumed all of the sugar in the beer and produced it into alcohol. There is one problem though… the beer is flat. How is the signature carbonation of beer added to it? There are a couple ways in which beer can be carbonated. We chose the historic way, by adding a small amount of sugar to the beer prior to bottling. The residual yeast in the beer ferments the additional sugar, but the carbon dioxide that is produced during fermentation has nowhere to escape since the bottle is capped. The carbon dioxide diffuses into the beer and gives it that crisp carbonation. This process is known as bottle conditioning.
It was great being able to share our beer with our peers in the Denver startup community while raising money for an incredible cause. In my brief time at GoSpotCheck, I’ve noticed how intensely active the company is in the Denver startup community as well as the community of Denver as a whole. We’re currently hitting the gym because in a few months, GoSpotCheck will participate in an annual plane pull at DIA benefiting the Special Olympics of Colorado. Just like at last week’s Homebrew Challenge, we’re looking to bring home some hardware from the plane pull later this summer.