BTAD Pitch Room Finals 2016

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For the fourth consecutive year, we’ve traveled across the country hosting creative, passionate food and beverage entrepreneurs at our Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Regional Pitch Room Competitions. Since 2013, the Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room has provided fellow craftspeople the opportunity to perfect the art of their sales pitch and receive candid business advice from industry leaders.

Business owners selected to participate in this year’s regional competitions in Denver, San Diego, Washington, D.C., and Boston each had two minutes to present their product to a panel of expert judges representing some of the country’s most admired retailers, wholesalers, and restaurant owners. After fielding questions and providing feedback to participants about their pitches, the judges selected a winner in each region based on quality of presentation, creativity, passion, and product viability. One finalist was selected through an online “Wild-Card” competition, co-hosted by Entrepreneur.com, where businesses from coast to coast submitted videos for viewing by the general public.

The below 7 finalists will compete for a $10,000 business grant and extended mentoring and coaching from Samuel Adams at our Samuel Adams Boston Brewery on Thursday, December 1st in the Pitch Room Finals.

Denver Regional Pitch Room Winner: Poparuba

Poparuba offers gluten-and grain-free cake bites incorporating superfoods such as garbanzo beans, organic coconut and almond flours, olive oil, pumpkin, and dark cocoa. Owner Kerri Troyer works hard to offer a nutritious option for dessert, the meal that is most vilified by health minded foodies. She even took her passion for health food one step further going back to school earning a degree in nutrition to help further develop her recipes and meet the company’s mission. The judges were impressed by the delicious flavor of the cake bites despite their minimal levels of sugar and carbs.

Denver Regional Pitch Room Runner Up: Spruce Creek Foods

Laura and Neil Mellberg are the owners of Spruce Creek Foods; a family-owned and operated company that makes premium hand crafted cocktail mixers that are all natural and gluten-free. The couple left their corporate jobs to run Spruce Creek full time and follow their passion of small business ownership.. The mixers are sold in liquor stores in the metro-Denver area as well as throughout Colorado and Texas. Judges in Denver raved about their Bloody Mary and Margarita cocktail mixes, both offering fuller flavor and fewer additives than many current mixers on the market.

San Diego Regional Pitch Room Co-Winner: Deaf Man’s BBQ

Deaf Man’s BBQ owner Rasool Raheem‘s love for BBQ sauce began in his family’s kitchen where the recipe was served with every meal. Raheem was born deaf and learned early on to communicate via sign language and by reading lips. Rasool also grew up learning how to cook and worked for years on perfecting his family’s variation of BBQ sauce with his ultimate goal of bringing family and friends together over great food. Our San Diego judges could feel Rasool’s passion for his product in his pitch and enjoyed the high quality taste of his BBQ sauce as well as the story behind it.

San Diego Regional Pitch Room Co-Winner: FITzee Foods

FITzee Foods prepares healthy meals from scratch with fresh, all-natural ingredients. All of their meals are made with fresh produce and grass fed protein. Owner Michelle Weinstein’s products allow consumers in the San Diego area to save time by avoiding shopping for groceries or cooking -which enjoying high-quality, healthy meals -- essentially offering a personal chef in a package. The San Diego panel was impressed by Michelle’s extensive nutritional knowledge and the nutrient-rich density of herfrozen meals. Her products are available to order, for home drop off in San Diego, and at FITzee’s two brick and mortar locations.

Washington, D.C. Regional Pitch Room Winner: Honey Grail

Honey Grail is naturally carbonated semi-sweet honey mead. Owner Chris Ekechukwu is on a mission to reintroduce a modern mead to the American palate. Honey Grail is available online and in retail locations on the East Coast. His signature style of sweet sparkling honey mead, called Boudica Uprising, is made with all-natural 100% True Source Certified Grade-A honey, and contains no added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Our Washington, DC judging panel advanced Chris to the finals due to his business savvy and knowledge about this ancient beverage.

Boston Regional Pitch Room Winner: Minus the Moo

Minus the Moo creates lactose-free ice creams that rival the taste and texture of traditional premium ice creams.  Co-owners Gwen Burlingame and Katy Flannery met as undergrads at Villanova University where Katy was unable to share in her friends’ ice cream study breaks due to her lactose intolerance. Katy attended the famous Penn State Ice Cream Short Course and used her background in health sciences to develop Minus the Moo’s delicious recipes using the lactase enzyme, and the girls then partnered to launch their business. Minus the Moo can be found at Whole Foods Markets in Massachusetts as well as specialty shops and farmers markets throughout Boston. The Boston judges loved the full flavor of the ice cream and Katy and Gwen’s tenacity to grow and strengthen their business.

Pitch Room Wild Card Contest Winner: Ploughshare Brewing Co.

Matt Stinchfield is the head brewer and owner of Ploughshare Brewing Co. based in Lincoln, Nebraska. Thousands of drinkers voted online for Ploughshare as their favorite video pitch. Ploughshare Brewing Co. offers a rotation of beers handcrafted on site. They have seven year-round brews and four special seasonal beers released quarterly.   Additionally, they have a taproom where they serve food made from scratch and sourced from Nebraska based producers and farmers. Ploughshare uses traditional brewing methods and styles, and sources only the highest quality ingredients for its beer.

Be sure to check back after December 1st to see which business was named our 2016 winner!