What Our Judges Say About Judging the International Brewing & Cider Awards

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Oliver Wesseloh, Kreativ Brewery, Hamburg

“I’ve not judged at this competition before and it’s very different to others, where you judge against guidelines for a long list of categories. As a result, a category in this competition can include quite different beers; ‘ales’ could include a wheat ale, a brown ale, a British IPA. The beers that win here are the ones that, once tasted, you would order again, or recommend to a friend.”  

Rob McCaig, Asahi Breweries Europe

“This is one of the most enjoyable competitions to judge, thanks to the need to reach a consensus decision on winners through discussion with other judges. We had some great conversations, in the judging room and outside it. The broader categories rather than the stricter guidelines of other competitions make judging very different, and also mean that the beer’s commercial worth assumes a vital role, which is the right approach.”

David Nicholls, Moa Brewing, New Zealand

“The judging process here is very enjoyable; judges are looking for beers that they think will be a commercial success, rather than ones that are closest to proscriptive style guides. Including the commercial worth criteria is really important; innovation is encouraged, but it has to be tempered with the commercial reality of making beers that consumers will want to drink. This competition rewards those beers that achieve that balance.”

Kaori Osita, Minoh Beers, Japan

“I hadn’t judged at a competition outside Japan before, and found this very different. The atmosphere is very positive, with judges looking to find the good points in every beer – though of course they can’t all win. I enjoyed the discussions with other judges and being part of this very beer-focused environment.”

Gabe Cook, National Association of Cider Makers UK

“As a judge at the first cider competition in Burton, in 2013, I have watched with delight its development over the last four years – as evident in the growth in the number of entries, from 40 to over 100 in this year’s event.

“I’m also very proud to have been part of the design of the cider classification system for the 2017 event.  Crucial to the thinking was to enable cider makers from anywhere in the world, with differing  heritages, fruits and methods of production, to enter products into classes and be confident that these ciders were being judged fairly and being judged to type.

“Of great excitement, for me personally, was the level of innovation.  The influence of craft beer and wine making was clear to taste, but all ciders were judged entirely on merit – nothing was awarded an unwarranted high score simply by virtue of being a ‘novelty’.  How fantastic, therefore, to have a spicy Canadian Saison Perry, a bold and fruity New Zealand interpretation of French Cidre Demi Sec and a bone dry, Styrian hopped Austrian cider all achieving success.

“This International Cider Awards can quite legitimately live up to the billing of its name, a showcase of what the world of cider looks like in 2017.  But it doesn’t stop here.  Only three continents registered awards this time around, which leaves three more. But, quality ciders are already being made in South America, Africa and Asia, so it’s only going to be a matter of time before they start hitting the same heights.  These are exciting times, indeed.”