Larry and Donna Reuter swear there’s no special bet riding on the outcome.

Just pride.

The married couple from Akron are competing — separately — in the Pro-Am Competition at this year’s prestigious Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Organizers couldn’t say whether the Reuters, who are both award-winning homebrewers and certified beer judges, are the first married couple with separate entries in the event, but it’s clearly an unusual feat.

Sitting around their dining room table next to a cabinet overflowing with beer medals and ribbons, they laughed when asked point-blank who’s the better brewer.

"That would be me," Donna said confidently.

"It’s really equal, though," Larry replied quickly, later conceding that his wife has the better palate.

The Pro-Am works like this: A homebrewer wins a medal at a sanctioned event and a brewery agrees to make his or her beer for the national competition.

This year, there are 118 entries. The winners will be announced at the event, which runs Thursday through Saturday.

The Reuters, who are both 58 and members of the Society of Akron Area Zymurgists homebrewing club, won medals at last year’s Son of Brewzilla contest in Cleveland, making them eligible.

Donna, who’s an expediter with a local jewelry company, won for a malt liquor, while Larry, who works with food and beverage companies on sanitation, won for a helles.

Masthead Brewing Co. in Cleveland asked to make the malt liquor, called Donna’s Malt Liquor. It’s 7.7 percent alcohol by volume.

A malt liquor may seem like an odd choice of beer styles for a craft brewer, but it just so happens to be Donna’s favorite. She enjoyed drinking Mickey’s while in college — and still does.

Don’t worry, she’s heard all the jokes from her friends about her beer: "Will it be in a brown bag?"

Malt liquor has a certain stigma to it — you can thank Colt 45, Schlitz Malt Liquor and Olde English 800 for that — but that’s one of the reasons that Masthead brewer Mike Pelechaty decided to brew it.

First off, he thought Donna’s beer was excellent. He also thinks the style is often forgotten.

"You can take any style and brew it with good ingredients and you’re going to end up with a good beer," he said.

Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon in North Olmsted made Larry’s beer, called Hellian Helles. It’s 5.2 percent.

Larry is a big fan of lagers.

The Hellian Helles also took home the best of show honor at this year’s Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest.

"Anyone who talks beer or actually gets to brew with Larry right away experiences his love for beer and brewing," Fat Head’s brewer Mike Zoscak said. "He is an especially superb lager brewer, which we all know how difficult well-crafted lagers are to master ... He seems to be constantly educating himself through practice and traveling and tasting beers from all over."

The Reuters, who live in the city’s Merriman Hills neighborhood, got into homebrewing about a dozen years ago after a trip to the Grape and Granary on Home Avenue in Akron.

They haven’t stopped brewing since, even picking up big awards at the American Homebrewers Association’s National Homebrew Competition.

They estimate they make about 50 batches each year, often using a well-worn propane-fired system in their garage.

For Larry, the Pro-Am competition is old hat. This is his third time competing, having previously hooked up with Fat Head’s and Weasel Boy Brewing Co. in Zanesville.

He’s yet to take home a medal.

This is Donna’s first time at the event.

"I’m pretty excited," she said.

They are traveling by car together to Colorado for the competition and plan to make plenty of beer-related stops on the trip.

The Reuters aren’t the only Ohioans competing in the Pro-Am. The others are:

• Black Cloister Brewing Co. in Toledo and Philip Blosser.

• Little Fish Brewing Co. in Athens and Eric Carman.

• Weasel Boy Brewing Co. in Zanesville and Anthony Vaccani.