The International Brewing Awards (IBAs) and International Cider Awards (ICAs) are said to be known for the very highest of standards, encouraging innovation and highlighting the best beers and ciders in the world.
The judging line up and process is unique within the industry. What differentiates this group is the unifying thread that the judging panel is made up entirely of commercially active industry professionals.
The stellar international panel see judges coming from as far and wide as Scandinavia in the north to New Zealand in the south and Japan in the east to countries across the Americas.
Judges bring a diversity of experience and range from head brewers, master cider makers, production directors, quality managers to similarly experienced senior brewers/cider makers currently supplying products to the market.
So why is this distinction so important?
This is the oldest beer and cider awards still running in the world.
Its origins are based around the industry professionals of the day gathering to assess an array of entries and to reward the quality and commercial worth of the beer.
This traditional approach still underpins the judging process today.
Most international beer and cider competitions today use a well-defined set of styles with guidelines developed on an American system that is continually evolved with the changing industry.
The IBAs and ICAs do not use defined style guidelines. This is where the professional industry judges bring their unique insight and expertise and cover a wide range of styles from across the world.
These beer and cider makers know about harvests, ingredients and the processes used to transform the ingredients into products of excellence. They recognise and reward traditional products, interpretations of classic styles or boundary breaking innovations that will find relevance in the market.
Having a panel of current industry professionals ensures a level of experience and language to enable the achievement of consensus after thorough dialogue, when there are no stylistic definitions to rely on.
Judges listen to their peers, considering their points of view. A final decision is agreed, only when every member of the panel has had a say and agreed the outcome.
A tried and tested process.
According to Chairman of judging, Bill Taylor, there are several reasons why this process is preferred.
Firstly, the judges own the decision. This is not a situation where an entry can polarise a panel or where numerical scores mean that everybody’s second favourite can win through. If there are controversies, they are shared and discussed openly from a professional perspective.
Secondly, it gives entrants the opportunity to enter innovative beers that may not yet fit strict guidelines.
Thirdly, the judges’ themselves, who are highly experienced, support this process. Despite it being a demanding task, with several assessment cycles and a lot of discussion before an entry can win, it is one that the judges relish.
As Chairman of judging, Bill Taylor provides oversight of the process and stewardship, including the technical analysis and dispensing of samples. Ensuring anonymity and the consistently high standards that have been synonymous with this pre-eminent event across so many decades.
It is this thorough process that has led former entrants and winners to describe these as the Oscars of the beer and cider industry!
Remember, if you would like to enter, final entry deadline is 1st February 2019 with product to be submitted by 22nd February.