University of Colorado juniors Alex Gearhart and Cory Peticolas quickly admit their bark is worse then their bite -- that is, their home-brewed foreign stout beer Shark Bite.
Turns out, their bite is quite good, according to the Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery in Boulder, which recently awarded the duo first place during the brewery's Stout Month 2011 Homebrew Competition.
What: Stout Month, featuring Shark Bite on tap
When: First week of February
Where: Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, 1535 Pearl St., Boulder; and Southern Sun Pub & Brewery, 627 S. Broadway, Boulder
"We actually entered two beers," Gearhart said. "But this one had more bite then the other, and we think (the judges) made the right choice."
Gearhart and Peticolas had planned to work with brewer Brian Hutchinson on Saturday to make Shark Bite using Mountain Sun's six-barrel system. The beer will be served at both of the company's Boulder brewpubs -- the Mountain Sun and Southern Sun -- and at the Vine Street Pub in Denver beginning in February, in honor of Stout Month.
The team describes the nearly black stout as "malty with no noticeable hop flavor, smooth with a hint of chocolate and the yeast provides a small bite."
Hutchinson, head brewer for Mountain Sun breweries, was one of six judges in this year's homebrew contest. He said Shark Bite was "clearly the best brewed" beer of the 50 entries.
"We get a lot of entries that used really eccentric ingredients," Hutchinson said. "People get really creative and we like that. But this stout stood out for the opposite reason. It was simple and really, really well made."
Hutchinson said he expects the "perfectly balanced" stout to be a hit during Stout Month and is already planning on brewing a second batch to meet high demand.
If the beer is popular among Mountain Sun patrons, Hutchinson said he expects Shark Bite to make continued appearances at the breweries' annual Stout Month celebrations.
"We like to bring back some unique beers that you can only get once a year," Hutchinson said.
After spending about two weeks researching foreign stouts and formatting the perfect recipe, Gearhart and Peticolas began brewing the beer at the November meeting of the Mile High Monks -- a homebrew club of Denver. After getting some feedback from fellow Monks, they took the beer back to their shared home in Boulder, where the five-week process was completed.
The CU students have been brewing beer separately for the past four years, an interest passed down to them by friends and family and an easy way for the then-minors to sneak some pre-21 booze.
"Honestly, it was fun and it was a way to get alcohol," Peticolas said.
After becoming roommates in August, they discovered their shared passion for homebrewing and began a pact to win a homebrew competition.
"Cory brought the application home one night and said, 'Let's win this thing,'" Gearhart said. "And right then we knew we could make a great beer together. We knew we could win, but we were still shocked when we did."
With a win under their belts, the roommates already have their eyes on three more competitions this year. And with their confidence high, discussions of opening their own microbrewery after graduation are already taking place.
"It's definitely a possibility," Gearhart said. "The universe conspires and this looks like our plans falling into place."