Welcome to the Collaborator competition. This is your chance to participate in creating a successful commercial beer in collaboration with the Widmer Bros. Brewing Co.
It’s a serious event, and a high honor accrues to the winner(s). But it’s not about eliteness, it’s about the beer.
Congratulations to the 2016 Competition Winners
Brian Haslip - American Amber Ale
w/Honey and Smoked Hops
Chris Hummert - Tropical Stout
Chuck Macaluso - Strawberry Kolsch
2017 Entry Info:
Entry Cut-off: Friday May19th, end of the day, at F. H. Steinbart Co. Homebrew Supply
Judging Date: Wednesday, May 24th
Questions? Email the Collaborator Committee
Entry Information (by Noel Blake)
Eligibility and Entry Limitations:
All current Oregon Brew Crew members are eligible. Each member may submit up to two (2) total entries as brewer or co-brewer. Entries must be brewed on a home brewing system, including the OBC pilot system. Entries brewed in a professional brewing facility (brewpub, you-brew) are not allowed. OBC members working in a professional brewing facility are welcome to enter as long as the beer is a homebrew.
Widmer will pay for the ingredients for one five-gallon batch of beer per entry under the following conditions. The ingredients must be purchased at Steinbart's and direct-charged to Widmer's account upon presentation of your current Oregon Brew Crew membership card. There will be no reimbursement from receipts.
We need a minimum of two 33cl or 12 oz. (or larger) bottles for the competition, one for the preliminary round and one for the taste-off round. You may substitute one 22 oz. or larger bottle, however that is not recommended because your beer will be at a significant disadvantage during the taste-off round when compared to other entries poured from fresh bottles. We also need two more bottles for a lab analysis at Widmer that is mandatory should your beer be selected. If your beer is selected and you do not have the analysis samples from the same batch of beer, your entry will be disqualified. If you submit all four bottles with your entry, you will receive a complementary lab analysis from Widmer even if you do not win. This is an optional, free benefit to Collaborator participants.
All entries must be packaged in competition-ready bottles. That means: glass containers affixed with a crown cap, with all labels and markings removed. Raised lettering on a bottle is acceptable. Any cap markings must be obliterated with a Sharpie. Affix entry information with rubber bands, no tape or glue, please.
Entry registration will be on-line at oregonbrewcrew.org. There will be a Collaborator entry instance under the Competition tab.
Note that we require you to enter recipe information with your entry. This is to help with the evaluation and because Widmer needs to know the ingredients before agreeing to produce a recipe.
Another significant difference in Collaborator competitions is that judging is not done on the traditional 50-point BJCP scale. We do not use numerical scores, and we do not strictly follow the BJCP style guidelines. We judge your beer as would a professional brewer, a publican, or a knowledgeable beer consumer. We are looking for beers that are flavorful and engaging, not necessarily the biggest or most unusual.
The judges may award from 0 to many Collaborator winner slots. Normally three beers are selected each year. Results will be announced before or during June general meeting.
Widmer will pay for the ingredients for up to 5 gallons for each entry. The best way to do this is to direct charge at Steinbart’s (please call ahead to get instructions from Steinbart's staff). The on-the-spot reimbursement for ingredients only happens at Steinbart's, and the OBC member needs to show their valid 2017 OBC membership card when they purchase. Widmer no longer accepts receipts for reimbursement going forward. Again, only on-the-spot, and only at Steinbart's, and only with a 2017 OBC card.
Complimentary lab analysis, including gravity measurements and IBU, are discussed above.
Winning entries receive a potential slot in the Collaborator program. The brewers will be contacted when their beer is ready to be brewed – this may take up to a year or more. All official brewers and co-brewers will be invited to participate in the recipe formulation, brewing and marketing of the beer. At the time the beer is released, one (and only one) Collaborator jacket will be awarded to the winning brewer or team.
Hints and Tips:
Be expressive, authentic, and true to yourself in selecting which beer to brew or enter. Have your beer evaluated honestly before choosing an entry. In fact, try forming a small group of homebrewers to critique each others’ beers.
Above that, we are looking for great pub beers. That means something you will enjoy more than one pint of. We recommend that the O.G. be kept to 1.075 or below, but that is your call if you think you can seduce the judges with your high gravity brew.
We are looking for at least one (but not necessarily all) of the following:
• Drinkability: multi-pint potential.
• Wow factor: does the beer captivate without gimmicks?
• Unusual style: impress us with your arcane beer knowledge
• Execution: the better the beer in the bottle, the better your chances
History of the Collaborator Project
The Collaborator Project is a collaboration between home brewers in the Oregon Brew Crew and Rob and Kurt Widmer of Widmer Brothers Brewing. It all started when the Widmers' and fellow Oregon Brew Crew members were talking about how few craft beer styles were available. At the time, craft brewing was holding to the popular styles. If you lived in America and wanted a Belgian Wit or Schwarzbier, you had to depend on beers from Europe. The fact was that these esoteric styles would never be profitable for commercial breweries in the US.
Kurt and Rob looked at that as an opportunity and challenged the Oregon Brew Crew to have an annual competition where the best of the club’s beers, regardless of style, would brewed and served by Widmer Brothers Brewing.
In the spring of 1998, the first beer chosen was Scott Sander’s English Brown Ale. However, for whatever reasons, a Milk Stout was the first to be brewed and was served in the summer of 1998.
This Stout became known as the Collaborator Stout and was an instant success. Over the years, this Collaborator beer has probably been brewed more often than all of the subsequent Collaborator beers combined. Its popularity was further boosted when it became the AHA’s Big Brew recipe for National Homebrew Day in 1999. That was surpassed when Widmer Brothers Brewing tweaked the original recipe and introduced the Collaborator Milk Stout as Snow Plow Stout in 2004 as their annual winter seasonal. This beer won a Great American Beer Festival gold medal. Snow Plow Stout is Widmer Brothers Brewing's best selling seasonal beer. Rob and Kurt honored the Oregon Brew Crew by including a short history of the Collaborator project and a Brew Crew Logo on the six pack holders.
All of this is not even the best part of the Collaborator Project. With every barrel of Collaborator beer that Widmer Brothers Brewing sells, they donate $4 to the Bob McCracken Scholarship Fund which supports students at the Oregon State University Fermentation Science program under the direction of Dr. Thomas Shellhammer. Through this program, Widmer Brothers Brewing has donated tens of thousands of dollars, and continues this tradition proudly.
Walk in to the Widmer Brothers Pub any time of the year, and you’ll likely find a Collaborator beer or two on tap. As a matter of fact, starting 2016, Noel Blake’s “Steel Bridge Porter” has been selected as a year-round brew to join Widmer’s other core beers. Each year more Collaborator beers are chosen during the annual competition held in Spring exclusively for Oregon Brew Crew members. Will your beer be the next?
Recent winners of the Widmer Collaborator Competition
Read an article on ten years of the collaborator and the winners list for those first 10 years by Jeff Alworth
Jodi Campbell - Vanilla Pale Ale
Rodney Kibzey - American IPA aged on Spanish Cedar
Max Tieger - Stout (with coffee, chocolate, and vanilla)
Brian White - Session Red Rye
David and Mandy Hayes - Robust Farmhouse Ale
Rodney Kibzey - Rauchbier