2020 Virtual Harvest is a month long, online event available for free and to the public, bringing beer lovers, homebrewers and international craft brewers together from all over the world.
Every weekday in September, we will be offering multiple webinars and online tours in various languages and time zones. To learn more, go to www.virtualharvest.com.
Below you can find session presentations from last Summer’s event.
Alpha King Challenge
Alpha King Challenge is NOW Full. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at [email protected] Thank you to everyone who entered!
May the best (hoppy) beer win!
[Live Stream link coming soon.]
Each year, the competition is typically held during the Friday of the Great American Beer Festival at Rock Bottom Brewing in Denver, CO. However, we value the health and safety of our global communities, and in light of COVID-19, this event will not be held in person this year. Instead, the competition will be held virtually at 3 Floyds Brewery with an official LIVE stream announcement of the winners on Oct 16th at 4pm CST. Tune in to see who is crowned the next Alpha King!
During the competition, all beer entries are judged by a selected team of brewers, industry experts and veteran beer writers. The competition follows a series of elimination rounds to determine a list of top finalists as well as three placed winners. The first-place winner receives the Alpha King crown and a sponsored video.
The purpose of the Alpha King Challenge is to determine the most well-balanced and drinkable hop forward beer. The competition includes but is not limited to IPAs and DIPAs. The only rules that apply are as follows:
- Beer entries must be 60 IBUs or greater
- Submitted by a licensed commercial brewery
- Only one entry per brewery (not brewery location)
- Beer entries must be shipped to 3 Floyds, for delivery between Oct 5 – 9th
The competition is limited to 150 entries, which are fulfilled on a first-come basis. Historically, spaces have filled up quickly so brewers are encouraged to plan ahead and submit their registration as soon it is open.
SHIP ALL ENTRIES TO:
3 FLOYDS BREWING
C/O ALPHA KING CHALLENGE
480 45TH STREET
MUNSTER, IN 46321
How are the beers judged?
The beers are judged through a series of blind elimination rounds, determining the winning beers based on flavor, aroma, bitterness, drinkability, balance and of course it’s powerful hop punch. Judges select 20 top finalists in no particular order, along with the first, second and third place winners.
When are winners announced?
For the 2020 Alpha King Challenge, the winner will be announced during a virtual event hosted at 3 Floyds Brewery on Oct 16th at 4pm CDTThe LIVE stream link will be posted soon.
What do the winners receive?
The top three entries for each competition each receive a cash prize, swag bag, mash paddle, and the first-place entry will also receive a one-of-a-kind AKC Crown. (Prize value will vary depending on location. Head to a specific event page to get the event specific prizes.)
How should I ship my entries?
YCH recommends that you package our entries with double layers of padding to avoid breakage, especially if you are shipping glass. Wine shippers work great as they are molded foam that will cradle the containers. Beer will be sent immediately to cold storage, so plan your shipping accordingly. Most entries do a max of 2 shipping days depending on the current weather conditions. 3 Floyds will notify breweries if their package arrives with too many broken containers, not leaving enough sample to be judged. 3 Floyds will work with the brewery to determine if there is time to resubmit your entry on a case by case basis. Make sure to include a copy of your registration confirmation so we know who the beer belongs to.
Is there a cost to participate?
The only cost breweries incur is the beer making and the shipping of the samples. Entry into the competition is free.
What do I do if my submission name, ingredients, etc. change?
If you need to change any of the information on your entry, please email [email protected]. Changes can be made up to 2 weeks prior to the shipping window dates.
What containers do you accept for beer shipment?
Breweries can send their entries in cans, bottles, or crowlers. Please no growlers.
The history of the Alpha King Challenge dates back to more than two decades ago, when hop and brewing industry veterans Ralph Olson and Bill Owens shared the idea of finding the hoppiest beer in America. Ralph Olson was the original owner and general manager of hop supplier Hopunion, which eventually evolved to form Yakima Chief Hops. Bill Owens was a brewer at Buffalo Bill’s Brewery and the publisher at American Brewer Magazine. He is also credited for creating the first craft IPA in 1987.
Together they set out on a mission to find the ultimate hop forward beer. As hop enthusiasts, they sought to praise brewers for their ability to create the best representation of a hop. From the beginning, they decided they weren’t looking for the best hoppy brew based on IBUs alone and agreed that the best must also be drinkable and well-balanced. And so began the creation of the greatest battle of beers.
The name of the event was inspired by Three Floyds Brewing from Denver, CO and their famous Alpha King IPA. It was strong, hoppy and delicious – the perfect example of the beers they were looking for in the competition. Inspired by the Three Floyds location, Ralph and Bill decided that the competition should be hosted during the Great American Beer Festival – the largest American beer festival of the year. Three Floyds agreed to lend the name of their beer to the cause, and the Alpha King Challenge was born.
Sponsored by Hopunion, C.B.S., American Brewer Magazine and Three Floyds Brewing, the first competition included less than 10 beers and only two judges, Ralph and Bill. The first official Alpha King was Larry Bells of Bells Brewing, crowned for his Two Hearted Ale in 1999. Over the years, the competition gained popularity, slowly adding more and more beers to the lineup of entries. Participants, fellow brewers and beer enthusiasts began to gather from across America to witness the crowning of the next Alpha King, moving to larger venues each year to accommodate the growing crowd.
Additional sponsors contributed, such as White Labs, and more judges were invited to experience and determine the hoppiest beer of the year. In 2001, Brewing News, owner of American Brewer Magazine, began assisting with judge procurement, selecting beer industry writers and official judges of the Brewers Association.
In 2012, the Alpha King Challenge moved to its current location at Rock Bottom Brewery. Since then, the Alpha King crown has evolved to become one of the most highly esteemed beer and brewing awards in the industry. Placing in the competition has helped many brewers advance their careers, providing opportunities and creating connections with other leaders in the industry. Winners proudly showcase the crown in their breweries, proving they are a master in the craft of translating hop flavors and aromas to beer.
As of 2020, the current sponsors of the event are Yakima Chief Hops and Three Floyds Brewing, as they search for the holy grail of highly hopped beers each year. The selected judges now consist of volunteer brewers from the craft beer industry. The Alpha King Challenge continues to be a highly anticipated and well-respected competition amongst the craft beer community.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL FINALISTS AND PARTICIPANTS IN LAST YEAR’S ALPHA KING CHALLENGE!
AFTER CAREFULLY JUDGING MORE THAN 150 HOPPY BEERS, WE ARE HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE THAT ALVARADO STREET BREWERY IN MONTEREY, CA, WAS THE WINNER OF THE 2019 ALPHA KING CHALLENGE. THEIR DOUBLE CONE DOUBLE IPA WAS VOTED THE “MOST WELL-BALANCED, DRINKABLE BEER IN THE WORLD!”
First Place – Alvarado Street Brewery, Double Cone Double IPA (110 IBUs)
w/ Mosaic® & Citra® Brand hops
T-90 hop pellets & Cryo Hops® pellets
Second Place – Belching Beaver Brewery, Thiz Is What It Iz Double IPA (90 IBUs)
w/ Citra® Brand hops.
T-90 & Cryo Hops® pellets
Third Place – Fat Heads Brewery, Green Grunge Double IPA (95 IBUs)
w/ HBC 637, Chinook, Citra®, Simcoe® & Mosaic® Brand hops
T-90 hop pellets, Whole Leaf & Cryo Hops® pellets
Fourth Place (Honorable Mention) – Humble Sea Brewing Co., Socks & Sandals “Foggy” IPA (50 IBUs)
w/ Centennial, Chinook, Citra® & Simcoe® Brand hops
T-90 hop pellets
2019 Hop & Brew School® Presentations
Ann Van Holle
Denny Conn & Drew Beechum
Patrick Jensen & Jackie Hite
Tiffany Pitra & Jackie Beard
Click here to Listen to our Hop & Brew School® podcast on the brewing network!