Not everyone who graduates in May will know what they want to be when they grow up. James Macdonald, a senior at Colorado State University, has no doubts about his future.
“Every time I go to a brewery, or every time we tour one with a class, I just think how much I want that in my life. I want to own a brewery, so that’s my big goal,” says Macdonald, who’s already proven himself as a brewer.
The Fort Collins native is now an award-winning beer man, after two of his beers won medals in the U.S. Beer Open Championship’s first-ever collegiate competition. After five years of making beer, this was his first home-brewer contest.
“I had some free time and decided to give it a shot,” Macdonald says.
He started his first beer with tips from a spruce tree, belonging to the Brewing Science at Technology teacher at CSU, Jack Avens. Macdonald is a teaching assistant in the class.
He says he used his education to come up with an original recipe on his own. The end result combined the tips with rye to make the beer he’s proudest of, which he calls Jack’s Front Yard IPA.
“I was sick of kind of the more floral, fruity, kind of [citrusy] IPAs that we have nowadays. I wanted to try something that has more of a pine and [resiny] – something that’s more like a winter IPA. Something spicy,” he says.
Jack’s took home a bronze medal, as did a Belgian beer called Abduction Wit. CSU instructor Jeff Biegert developed that recipe a few years ago for the brewing class.
Because Macdonald represented the university in the competition, CSU helped provide ingredients, and a place to brew his beers. Other students and staff members helped to produce the beers, as well.
Macdonald plans to use the recipes in his future brewery one day. Before then, he’ll look for a job at an existing brewery after graduation.
The competition was held in June, and the winners were announced in July.
Copyright 2016 KUSA