Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2017 – Penticton


This was the fourth year that I was asked be a judge at the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale in Penticton.  Once again the judging was held on day two of the festival on April 8th this year.  We had gone from 10 to 14 categories in the last two years but they scaled it back to 12 this year.  Those categories were Pilsner/Golden Lager, Pale Ale, Wheat Ale, Saison, Amber/Dark Ale, IPA, Specialty IPA, Dark Lager, Stout/Porter, Sour, Cider and Fruit Beer.  Once again we had 9 judges broken up into three groups of three.  The categories were broken up between the three groups in a way that everyone judged around the same amount of beer.  We were tasked with picking our favourite beer in each category that we were responsible for.  From there the groups were asked to pick their top two beer from those winners.  This gave us the top 6 beers for the entire group to deliberate over for the best of show.  I think this gets even more contentious every year and the discussions become arguments but we get down to a winner in the end.  The following photos of the Judges come from Kim of DogLeg marketing.

Meet The Judges

Chelsea – Brewtiful BC, Jeremy – Craft Beer Vancouver, Jan Zeschky – Beer writer

Rebecca Whyman – Beernesday.com, Rob Mangelsdorf – The Growler, Joe Wiebe – Author

Wade Dhooge – Cask & Barrel, Me, Jason Van Rassel – Daily Beer

Every year this panel is done by blind tasting with all samples poured by a team and handed out to each judge.  We do not judge to the full standards of the BJCP but only pick what each of the three judges in a group likes best then deliberate which of those should be our choices for number one.  Like I said above once we had decided which of the beers were the winners in our categories we had to choose our top two.  We had some pretty good discussions and disagreements about what beer should go on to the full judge panel.  Wow was there ever some serious disagreement this year when we came together as a group of nine to pick the best of show.  We started out with a very civil conversation where we discussed if the winner should be an approachable beer for the masses or what we thought was the most technically interesting beer.  Just this simple part of the conversation was a contentious one.  I don’t know if this was the most contentious judge panel that I have been a part of or not but this was definitely the one that had the most swings in our voting.  There was absolutely two different camps when it came to which beer should win.  The funny part is that the winner in the end was an underdog.  It wasn’t until one person voting against the winner said something that swayed the balance to the winning IPA.  I am really happy that I was able to come out on the right side of this vote in the end but it was close.  The judging once again started at 10am (Its a hard job but someone has to do it) and it went on for quite some time.

Once we had made all of our decisions about best beer of every category and best of show we were given the names of all of the winners we had chosen.

Best in Class, Judges’ Choice Awards:

Pilsner/Golden Lager Pixel Pils – Fuggles & Warlock, Richmond, BC
Pale Ale Dusk Pale Ale – Parkside Brewery, Port Moody, BC
Wheat Ale Summer Ale, Witbier – Steamworks Brewing, Burnaby, BC
Saison Sirens Chai Saison – Britannia Brewing, Richmond, BC
Amber/Dark Ale Brave Liver Scotch Ale – Mt. Begbie Brewing, Revelstoke, BC
IPA Street Legal IPA – Twin Sails Brewing, Port Moody, BC
Specialty IPA High Five Hazy IPA – Yellow Dog Brewing, Port Moody, BC
Dark Lager Dark Lager – Steel & Oak Brewing, New Westminster, BC
Stout/Porter Dry Irish Stout – Ravens Brewing, Abbotsford, BC
Sour Nectarous – Four Winds Brewing, Delta, BC
Cider Pippin’s Fate – Twisted Hills Craft Cider, Cawston, BC
Fruit Beer Park Life Passionfruit Ale – Bomber Brewing, Vancouver, BC

The People’s Choice Awards, voted for by guests at the event:

Best Beer                                                 Old Style Lager – Red Arrow Brewing, Duncan, BC
Best Cider                                                Pears & Peaches – BC Tree Fruits Cider, Kelowna, BC
Best Food                                                Brodo Kitchen, Penticton, BC

Best in Show, Judges’ Choice Award:      

High Five Hazy IPA – Yellow Dog Brewing, Port Moody, BC

This was once again an amazing judging session at the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale.  To check out the post on the festival itself click here.  Here are some of the photos of the group of judges and our amazing group that set up the juding and poured our samples.

Here are the photos from the Awards ceremony that was held in the main hall of the festival a few hours after we had finished the judging session.

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Atlantic Pale Ale – Hearthstone Brewery


From Hearthstone Brewery in North Vancouver comes their “Atlantic Pale Ale”.  The beer pours a golden colour with an off white head.  The aroma consists of caramel and biscuit malts, pine and citrus notes.  The flavour is of caramel, biscuit, fruity notes, mild resin and citrus, tropical fruit and mild bitterness.  The alcohol comes in at 4.3% with an IBU of 30.  This one won’t knock you socks off but it is a well made and enjoyable Pale Ale.

Commercial Description:  East meets West in this little beauty! This is our take on an English style pale ale – light in colour and body, hopped with a mix of Old World and North American hops, resulting in a balanced and refined pale ale.

Belgian Style Blonde Ale – Trading Post Brewing


From Trading Post Brewing in Langley comes their “Belgian Style Blonde Ale”.  The beer pours a golden colour with an off white to tan head.  The aroma consists of Belgian yeast, banana, clove, spices and sweetness.  The flavour is of bubble gum, banana, fruity, sugary, clove and spices.  The alcohol content comes in at 7.1% with an IBU of 16.  I don’t really have a sweet tooth and this beer was a bit too sweet for me.  This is a serious desert beer.

Artisan IPA – Bowen Island Brewing


From Bowen Island Brewing now brewed in Kamloops by Kamloops Brewing Company comes their”Artisan IPA”.  The beer pours a copper colour with a beige head.  The aroma consists of floral and herbal hops with a hint of caramel.  The flavour is of herbal hops, caramel, brown sugar sweetness, some mild citrus and mild bitterness.  The alchol content comes in at 5.5% with an IBU of 45.  This IPA could use some work as its quite low on the flavour compared to most IPA’s but its a good choice on a budget for sure.

Commercial Description:  This light golden IPA starts with a hoppy bitterness, followed by a medium level of maltiness and body, finishing with a refreshingly fruity grapefruit flavour.

Black Strap Boot Strapper Porter – Beau’s All Natural Brewing (Crannóg Ales)


From Beau’s All Natural Brewing in Vankleek Hill Ontario co-operatively brewed with Crannóg Ales of Sorrento BC comes their “Black Strap Boot Strapper Porter”.  The beer pours a deep chestnut colour with a tan head.  The aroma consists of molasses, coffee, chocolate and a sweet finish.  The flavour is of molasses, chocolate, ash, roasted malts, plum, burnt coffee resin and mild bitterness.  The alcohol content comes in at 5.8% with an IBU of 30.  The body was a bit on the thin side but the flavour was right on point!

Commercial Description:  Blackstrap Bootstrapper is a classic British-style porter brewed with an addition of fairtrade organic blackstrap molasses. The recipe uses Challenger hops harvested from Left Fields, the certified organic farm on which Crannóg Ales stands, located in the sunny Shuswap region of BC.

Food pairing as per brewery:  Beef, oyster and porter pie (British traditional pie), bacon-wrapped scallops on the BBQ, dark chocolate pudding.