The beer sampling began early (8 A.M.) at the December 5 Brewbound Session in San Diego, when a panel of judges tasted products and heard elevator pitches from 10 different startup craft brewery owners.

Sponsored by Craft Brew Alliance, the first installment of the Startup Brewery Challenge gave the companies the opportunity to showcase their brands and business plans in front of a judging panel of expert brewers and industry veterans, as well as an audience of 170 brewing industry professionals.

Seth Weatherly, the founder of 5 Stones Craft Brewing Co., beat out nine other participants with his seasonal release business model and a 6.4 percent ABV ‘Aloha Pina’ golden ale, brewed with fresh pineapple and roasted jalapeno.

Judging the competition were Pete Slosberg, the founder of Pete’s Wicked Ale; Doug Rehberg, the director of brewing operations for CBA; Brady Walen, the Widmer Brothers brand manager; Tom Nickel, the owner of O’Brien’s Pub and Chris Furnari, the editor of

Weatherly won an all-expenses-paid trip to Portland, Ore. to become Widmer Brothers’ “Brother for a Day.” There, he’ll be able to craft a new collaboration beer with Widmer Brothers, take an extensive tour of the company’s pilot and production breweries, participate in CBA’s daily taste panel and learn from the company’s sales, marketing, graphics, quality assurance and packaging departments.

About the Brewbound Session:

The Brewbound Session is a full-day conference for beer industry professionals. The event focuses on the strategic marketing, brand building and business development issues that most directly impact craft brewers. A variety of distribution, retail, investment and branding discussions are offered.

About Craft Brew Alliance:

CBA is an independent, publicly traded craft brewing company that was formed through the merger of leading Pacific Northwest craft brewers – Widmer Brothers Brewing and Redhook Ale Brewery – in 2008. With an eye toward preserving and growing one-of-a-kind craft beers and brands, CBA welcomed Kona Brewing Company in 2010, and then launched Omission beer in 2012 and Square Mile Cider Company in 2013.