Birko Brew CleaningBrewing & Distilling

Why Birko Brewery Customers Win Medals

The World Beer Cup (WBC) is one of the most prestigious blind beer tasting competitions in the world. It occurs every other year during the Brewer’s Association (BA) Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) and BrewExpo America. Unlike the Great American Beer Festival annual competition, where only American-made beers are allowed to compete, the WBC competition is open to breweries across the world.

At last week’s World Beer Cup, 8,234 beers entered (801 from outside the US) from 2,515 participating breweries from 33 countries. 295 judges (72% of them from outside the US) judged beers in 101 categories. An award given at this competition is a very BIG deal.

42 of the medal winners are Birko customers. You can check out the full list here.

Why do Birko’s brewery customers win medals?

Birko customers win so many medals because they keep their equipment very clean and sanitized, plain and simple. In blind competitions, (where the judges do not and cannot know who made the beer they are sampling) second to being appropriate for the given style, sanitation is the most important thing a brewery can do to not only win medals but more importantly, thrive and stay in business. It does not matter how good the water, malt, hops and yeast is if the equipment is dirty. It is all for not if the beer was made in dirty equipment.

In competitions, the samples that do not taste right get “dumped” quickly and don’t advance to the next round of judging. Only the cream of the crop make to the final, medal-winning round and the differences between Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners can be very close. In short, clean beer starts in the brewhouse. If the mashtun, kettle, whirlpool and heat exchanger are not clean, the beer will not be “clean” (free of off flavor defects). Let me show you an actual example of what I am talking about:

Kettle Before Cleaning with Acid Brite #2 and Bru-R-Ez Same Kettle After Cleaning with Acid Brite #2 and Bru-R-Ez


Which kettle do you think would make better beer? Which one do you think would have a better chance of winning a medal?

Give us a call, or send us an email, if you want to learn how to improve your brewery’s cleaning and sanitation.


Dana Johnson, Technical Director, Craft Brewing, Birko, is a frequent judge at the Great American Beer Festival and one of Birko’s resident master brewers. He can be reached at [email protected] or (303) 289-1090.