OC Homebrewers Continue IPA Dominance at National Homebrew Competition—What the Ale!

NHC Bronze for Specialty IPA went to Matt Cowper and Aaron Vieira’s collab Hazed and Contused. Photo by Greg Nagel

The title of the best IPA at the World Beer Cup was won by Orange County. The best double IPA at the World Beer Cup? OC has that, too—back to back. But what about the best New England IPA? Turns out we just got a medal in that as well, thanks to some talented locals at the National Homebrew Competition (NHC), which was held in Providence, Rhode Island, late last month.

Aaron Vieira and his assistant, Matt Cowper, both of whom belong to the Costa Mesa-based homebrew club Orange County Mashups, won bronze for specialty IPA, a category that saw a whopping 475 entries. If one of those names looks familiar, perhaps it’s because Vieira won bronze at last year’s NHC. We talked to him, post-competition, about his big win.

Brewer Aaron Vieira. Photo by Greg Nagel

OC WEEKLYIt’s ballsy to brew a hazy IPA for a national competition. What went into yours?

AARON VIEIRA: It’s easy to follow an IPA recipe, but it’s tough to make a great one. We’ve been making IPAs for a long time and have figured out a bunch of tricks to get closer to “local brewery fresh” IPA instead of “back stock at the grocery store” IPA.

Did any pro brewers assist in the recipe or process?

Ian McCall from Riip has been super-helpful. . . . He actually inspired the hops we chose in this beer. We used a hop called “Enigma” that he discovered; it’s really white-wine-like in that gooseberry way—like Nelson Sauvin, but without all the green dankness.

With two NHC awards under your belt, when are you going to open a brewery?

Can I borrow a few million bucks?


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