Tales from the World Beer Cup: Brewers share their favorite moments

Nexus head brewer Randy King almost missed out on his chance to claim his silver award in person at the World Beer Cup.

A lot of times in the wake of a big beer event, there is a lot of additional information and stories that get left on the proverbial cutting room floor. Seeing as how Mondays are usually depressing affairs, we decided to pick up some of those leftovers that brought a smile to our faces and share them with you.

Here are a couple of stories, recounted by the brewers themselves, from the World Beer Cup and Craft Brewers Conference that took place over the first week of May.

Nexus brewer almost misses his big moment

While Nexus Brewery has shined at the World Beer Cup in the past, those awards came during Kaylynn McKnight’s successful run as head brewer. Her successor, Randy King, had yet to add to the awards list for the venerable brewpub, until he finally got his moment in the spotlight in Minneapolis. It was a moment he almost missed, however.

“Just something really interesting and funny and stupid that happened at the actual World Beer Cup awards, we went in with Jamie (Schwebach) and Rosie (Jinno) from Canteen, and John (Kofonow) from Thirsty Eye,” King said. “We went through a few of our categories and none of us won. We went to grab a beer in the lobby and come back. We’re waiting through a couple more and nothing happens. I say I’m going to go use the bathroom and they’ll probably call my name when I’m in there.”

That was exactly what happened as Nexus won silver for its Beam Me Up (Higher) Scotty in the Old Ale or Strong Ale category, as King discovered when he walked out of the bathroom and ran into another Albuquerque brewer.

“John Heine from Marble says congratulations, and then Josh Trujillo said dude, you won,” King recalled. “You guys are fucking with me. No, dude, you won. Go up to the stage! I ran into Jamie and John and they were super congratulatory.”

There was something about celebrating that moment with other local brewers that made it even better for King.

“I think in general we’re very cooperative with each other,” he said. “We’re also very competitive winning awards, but we’re all trying to put out the best beer that we can. I got to run into (Ex Novo’s) Dave Chichura as well and congratulate him on his award. I got to hang out with the Second Street people with their awards for a few minutes. It was really cool.”

King said he wanted to track down Ponderosa head brewer Antonio Fernandez and congratulate him on his gold award for Italian Pilsner, but Fernandez was back in Albuquerque at the time.

“Another quick thought, just how impressed I am of Antonio at Ponderosa,” King said. “He’s such a good dude, and for him to win back-to-back golds is unbelievably hard. I’m just so happy for him.”

King also has ties to the Minnesota brewing community.

“I brewed at two breweries in Minneapolis,” he said. “I have some really good, close friends that live there that are in the Minneapolis brewing scene. They weren’t at the awards, but I got to hang out with them after. That was awesome for them to come out. We popped into one of the two breweries I used to brew at. It was fun to reflect on where my career has gone, and feel good for a night before we get back to work.”

Ex Novo wins an additional award of mystery

The Ex Novo brewing team took a bite out of Minneapolis while at the World Beer Cup/Craft Brewers Conference.

Ex Novo director of brewing operations Dave Chichura and his staff had quite the good time in Minneapolis, claiming a silver award for V for Vienna in the Vienna-Style Lager category. There were also some additional shenanigans, ones that Chichura was a bit cagey when it came to talking about what else happened in Minneapolis.

“We had a real good time,” he said with a sly smile. “We had a very stoic, good time. I got my eight hours in every night.”

No, really, Dave, what all happened up there?

“It was actually really cool, because I got to hang out with some folks who I don’t get to see very often, let alone spend any quality time with,” he said. “We all stayed at the same place, intermittently saw each other through the day, and then in the evening we mostly spent together, doing the things. We got entertained very nicely. We had a concert one night. We went to Surly (Brewing) one night, and that was quite something. We went to a drag show one night, and that was quite something.”

Oh, and Ex Novo being Ex Novo, of course there was time for a wee little collaboration brew.

“My first full day for (Ryan) Buxton and myself and Hudson (Fort), we went out to Lupulin Brewing Company in Big Lake, Minnesota, and did a collaboration with them,” Chichura said. “We spent the whole day there, pretty much. That was really educational, too. I actually came back with some really good ideas for some things to possibly add to our brewery, as well as reinforce an already good relationship with those guys. They make fantastic beer.”

After the WBC awards ceremony, the Ex Novo team went out and won another award. It currently sits on the shelf above the beer taps in the taproom.

There is a tremendous mystery as to exactly what this “award” was for, but the Ex Novo team is keeping those details a secret.

“We had good times and then closed down the tiki bar Thursday night,” Chichura said. “Came back with a major award from the tiki bar and from the World Beer Cup. We couldn’t really beat it. We’ve got a nice piece of pottery in the taproom.”

“That’s what it’s from?” taproom general manager Stevo Jeter asked. “I saw it on the slot and was like what is it?”

“That was the joke, we were going to tell everyone this is the actual (WBC) award,” Chichura said, without going into further details as to what exactly it was an award for during this excursion.

Some things will just remain a mystery, we suppose.

Thanks to Randy and Dave for the stories. Good luck to one and all getting through Monday and the rest of this week.


— Stoutmeister

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