Podcast Episode 264: Cannonball Creek Is in the Relentless Pursuit of Improvement

Golden’s Cannonball Creek has won a GABF medal every year since they opened in 2013, and they’ve done so across a wide range of styles—from stout and cream ale to German-style pils and Belgian-style blonde. However, the thing they’re most passionate about—and the thing for which they’ve won the most medals—is lower-ABV, hop-forward beers. Their Featherweight American pale ale and Trump Hands session IPA have together collected five GABF medals and three World Beer Cup medals (including four golds). But if you think Cannonball Creek is content to rest on their success, you’d be mistaken.

Instead, Hutchinson and Lee employ a practice of constant improvement, and they take it to an extreme. They’re constantly tweaking recipes, no matter how many accolades a beer has earned. Competition—winning beers are just as likely to see changes as any other.

In this episode—coinciding with the 40th anniversary Great American Beer Festival—Hutchinson and Lee discuss:

  • finding balance in small hoppy beers
  • staying intentionally small to brew beers they’re passionate about
  • modernizing malt bills over the past decade of brewing
  • the gap between hop-utilization calculations, lab-tested IBUs, and perceived bitterness
  • making winning beers without selecting hops
  • evolving recipes as ingredients and contexts change
  • mitigating hop creep with ALDC
  • the traits of highly effective award-winning brewers

And more.

“We are constantly changing our beers, including those that have been successful in competition,” Hutchinson says. “We have beers that have won gold medals, that we have changed significantly, almost completely, and they’ve won again after that, too.”

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