The Colorado Medal – My 50 State Medal Pursuit

The Colorado Medal technically kicked off my 50-state medal pursuit. It was for a beer I sent to a competition in Aurora, Colorado, in 2021. Although I didn’t officially decide to pursue a medal in every state until 2023, this one still very much counts, and it’s one of the most fun beers I brew and probably the most niche competition I’ve entered so far.

When I joined my first home brew club in 2019, one of my favorite events was brewing beer and pouring for local events. We have a few opportunities to do this in Central Florida, and I participate as much as possible. I love the feedback, I love the community, and it’s some of the most fun and rewarding time a home brewer can spend in the blazing hot sun of Florida.

I typically make at least three beers; one that’s malt forward, one that’s hop forward, and one that is entirely outside the guidelines that will hopefully get people talking.

In 2021, that beer was a beer I called “Murder Hornet”- it was an American Amber Ale that was heavily dosed with Habanero and Ghost Chili peppers. And it indeed gets people talking.

It was a beer that was fun to try once you whether you loved or hated hot peppers. It had a sting, to say the least, but still a very drinkable beer. The bottom line, it was a huge hit.

I didn’t empty the keg that day, and understandably so. I lost count of how many people tried a small sample of the pour, but I could probably count on one hand how many people came back for seconds.

After the festival, I brought home the keg of leftover “Murder Hornet” and stored it in my keg fridge for about a month.

Then the time came that I needed that keg empty, but that beer had earned such a reputation that day I didn’t want to dump the remaining beer. So I canned everything that was left, filling eight 12 oz cans. That was less than I thought, and I was even prouder of the hit that beer was that day.

I didn’t have a specific plan for those eight cans. I assumed I or some of my friends would eventually drink them, but it’s certainly not a beer you pound repeatedly in one sitting. Until now, I don’t think anyone has drank 12 full ounces of it yet.

At this point, I experienced a rare moment of perfect timing. I was in about to enter the next local competition when my eyes caught the title of an out-state competition; “Chili Pepper Extravaganza.” A quick look at the description of the competition confirmed this was a chili pepper beer-focused competition.

I read through the rules, jotted down the address, and sent the required two cans of “Murder Hornet” out to Aurora, Colorado.

I had yet to learn how big or small this competition was. It turns out very small. For 2021 there were only 15 entries divided into three categories: “Pale and Sour Beer,” “Amber and Dark Beers,” and “Meads.” In the end, “Murder Hornet” took bronze for “Amber and Dark Beers,” and my first state outside of Florida was checked off the map in my 50 State Medal Pursuit…unofficially.

I still make Murder Hornet for festivals today. Each year it’s a little hotter, and base beer is a little better. I’ve designed a couple of recipes for other pepper beers I have yet to make and hope to make them soon.
It might be time to give the “Chili Pepper Extravanganza” another go and see if I can bring home silver or gold this time.


Track the progress of this pursuit here, at the the 50 State Medal Tracker Page.

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