A 2022 Boston Beer brewing master has been crowned.
Baltimore, Maryland-based brewery Checkerspot Brewing Company has been named the winner of Samuel Adams’ 11th Brewing the American Dream experienceship.
Checkerspot will make its first appearance as Boston Beer’s newest champion at the Great American Beer Festival this weekend in Denver, Colorado.
The brewery will also join Samuel Adams in brewing a collaboration beer and will receive mentorship and financial support from the company’s philanthropy.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Judy Neff, head brewer and owner of Checkerspot Brewing, shared her excitement for the big win.
“We were ecstatic when we got the call,” she said.
“It was wild and could not have come at a better time.”
“It made us feel great about our beer, and it is a little bit of a load off knowing that we’ve got someone big like Boston Beer Company on [our] side.”
Checkerspot, founded in 2018 by Neff and her husband, Rob Neff, offers small-batch, gluten-reduced craft beers.
At the first annual Samuel Adams Crafting Dreams Beer Bash in New York City’s Soho on Sept. 7, 2022, the Neffs brought their signature Juniper’s IPA to the competition.
Judy Neff described the brew to Fox News Digital as a mix between West Coast and New England “hazy, juicy” IPAs, which Rob Neff considered “one of his favorites.”
Judy Neff expressed her appreciation for the “amazing” resources and support that’s already been made available to her brewery through the experienceship.
“Now we’re sort of under the umbrella and in the family of the Brewing the American Dream crew,” she said.
Checkerspot explained that the arrival of the news was “perfect timing,” since the Neffs just purchased a new property in the Baltimore area.
In addition to moving into a new space, Judy Neff said she hopes to continue using this mentorship to grow the Checkerspot brand in the future.
Checkerspot has a deep dedication to its community, often giving back to local organizations such as The Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter and Baltimore Military Muster.
Meanwhile, the support Checkerspot receives in turn from their community has been just as “unbelievable,” according to Judy.
The owners’ message to other aspiring craft brewers across the country is simple: “Make good beer.”
“It’s not all about the money,” said Judy Neff. “You’ve got to make good beer too.”
“That’s what I love — physically making something and getting to drink it at the end of the day. But it’s definitely not all ‘sitting at the end of the bar,'” she added. “It’s a lot of hard work.”
Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch shared in a press release that he was “impressed by Judy and Rob’s Beer — but even more inspired by their story.”
“Turning passion into purpose is what led me to create Brewing the American Dream,” he said.
“Checkerspot is a deserving brewery that truly appreciates the heart and science of beer and I’m thrilled to share this experience with them at the Great American Beer Festival, where I got my start as a brewer some 38 years ago.”
“I can only hope this experience will put them on the same trajectory.”
In an interview with Fox News Digital at the Sept. 7 Beer Bash, Koch outlined the importance of fueling the American dream in aspiring craft brewers.
“It’s important to recognize what craft beer is all about,” he said. “It really has its roots, as it did for me, in just a love of beer.”
The Samuel Adams founder said his Brewing the American Dream philanthropy serves the purpose of “giving back and sustaining the values that we believe in.”
As a young and aspiring brewer at the start of his career, Koch admitted that he wished he’d had the access to two things: loan money and advice.
“We wanted to then reach out to up-and-coming entrepreneurs in food and beverage and couch and counsel them,” he said.
“Fourteen years later, and we’ve mentored, coached, advised 13,000 up-and-coming entrepreneurs over that time who have created 9,000 jobs in local communities all over the United States.”
Koch encouraged aspiring brewers to always make the first ingredients in their brews “quality and passion and care and attention.”