Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2015 – Penticton


For a second year in a row I was honored with the invitation to be a judge again at the Fest-Of-Ale in Penticton.  Last year I had reservation about saying yes to the invite as I had never done any beer judging before but this year I jumped at the opportunity.  The judging again this year took part on Day Two of the festival on April 11th, 2015.  This year we had 10 Categories to judge from including Ale, Belgian Ale, Cider, Fruit Beer, Hefeweizen, IPA, Lager/Pilsner,  Other, Pale Ale and Stout/Porter.  This year there was a huge spike in the amount of entries into the judged competition.  I do not know if it was the extra 10+ breweries and cideries or what but last year only had 42 beer and 3 ciders while this year had a whopping 83 beer and cider to judge!  With so many beers to judge the panel of 8 judges was split up into two groups this year.  Each group sampled half of the beer that was to be judged.  Once all the beers had been sampled the groups came together and we all sampled the top two beers/ciders in each category.  The following Head Shots are from Kim of DogLeg Marketing.

Meet the Judges.

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Joe Wiebe – Author


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Alan Moen – NorthWest Brewing News

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Me

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Jim Martin – Metro Liquor (Senior Wine Consultant)

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Jan Zeschky – Beer writer with The Province

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Jason van Rassel – beer writer with The Calgary Herald

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Josh Oakes –  RateBeer.com

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Sunshine Kessler – LoveAndBarley.com

Like all other beer competitions this one was a blind tasting.  The only differentiation that we had between the beer was the number on the glass.  This year the Director of Judging was Warren Everton as Martin of Bad Tattoo Brewing had to pass the torch as he had beer in the competition.  This year we stepped away from the very official judging sheet as it seemed to take to much time overall.  This year we had very toned down score cards and we sampled all the beer in a category and chose our top two beer.  If we had a majority consensus of the top two we gave our results right away.  If not we discussed as a group to come up with our top two.  This seemed to actually work quite well and made the whole process move along at a pretty decent pace.  Once we brought the two groups together we re-sampled the top two beers from our group as well as the top two beers from the other group of judges and came up with out winners.  Only one category caused trouble for the judges and surprisingly it was not IPA but Fruit Beer.  We argued long and hard with a serious stale mate and it was very hard to come to a consensus winner.  To say this category was contentious is an understatement!  We did finally come to an agreement luckily and there were no punches thrown (totally kidding there but we did joke about it).  We started the judging at 10am and we ran to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2pm.

Once all the deliberation we were told the winners of each category and what beer we chose as best of show.  The best of show may come as a surprise to many to be sure and it may not be the most approachable beer of the bunch for the person new to craft beer.  What it was though was a standout in the crowd of beers that were judged.

Best of Each Category:

Ale: Rum Runner Red Ale, Persephone Brewing (Gibsons, B.C.)
Belgian: White Bark Witbier, Driftwood Brewery (Victoria, B.C.)
Cider: Kingston’s Twist, Twisted Hills Craft Cider (Cawston, B.C.)
Fruit Beer: Berried Alive, Longwood Brew Pub (Nanaimo, B.C.)
Hefeweizen: Hey Day Hefeweizen, Granville Island Brewing (Vancouver, B.C.)
IPA: Right Kind of Crazy Double IPA, Powell Street Craft Brewery (Vancouver, B.C.)
Lager/Pilsner: 1516 Bavarian Lager, Okanagan Spring Brewery (Vernon, B.C.)
Other: Super GLongwood Brew Pub (Nanaimo, B.C.)
Pale Ale: Coast Trail Pale Ale, Canuck Empire Brewing (Aldergrove, B.C.)
Stout/Porter: Smoke and Mirrors Imperial Ale, Coal Harbour Brewing (Vancouver, B.C.)

Best Of Show:

Smoke and Mirrors Imperial Ale
, Coal Harbour Brewing (Vancouver, B.C.)

Here are my fill sized photos.

After all the judging was done we had a few group shots taken by Kim of DogLeg Marketing..

Once all was done we were released into the festival although we had to be at the stage for 3pm for the announcement of the winners.  The following photos are taken again by Kim of DogLeg Marketing.

 

 

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Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2014 – Penticton


I was asked to be a judge for the Fest-Of-Ale and at first I was not sure if I should do it.  Not being a certified judge weighed on my mid a bit.  I felt unqualified or at least under qualified.   I decided though that there is no way to get experience without just jumping at an opportunity that you are given.  This blog has given me opportunities to do things that I would never have had a chance to do usually.  The judging took place on day two of the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale on April 5th, 2014.  There was 42 Beer and 3 Ciders to be judged from 35 different Breweries and Cideries.  There were 9 Catagories including Lager/Pils (6), Pale Ale (4), Ale (4), IPA (13), Stout (5), Belgian (2), Wit (4), Fruit Beer (4) and Cider (3).  The following Head Shots are from Kim of DogLeg Marketing.  Meet the Judges.

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David Beardsell – Brewery Owner/Consultant

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Joe Wiebe – Author

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Alan Moen – NorthWest Brewing News

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Me

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Jim Martin – Metro Liquor (Senior Wine Consultant)

As with all Beer Judging competitions this one is done blind.  Beers are brought out in their categories with only numbers on them to differentiate them.  Here are a few examples of how the beer is laid out for the judges and what our scoring cards looked like.  This competition was overseen by Martin who is the owner of the upcoming Bad Tattoo Brewing and runs the Kettle Valley Station Pub both in Penticton.

There are many ways to judge beer from what I can gather talking to this group after the judging. From what I can gather it is best to take notes and sample all the beer and then go back and give your final scores.  I didn’t do it this way and I wish I did.  If there is a next time I can always do it differently.  Judging this competition you are allowed to discuss with the other judges on all points of the beer and if it actually fits into the category it is submitted as.  Saying that it was very quiet in the room from around 10am when we started to 3pm when we finished up.

Once all the samples had been judged our score cards were handed to Martin.  He then tallied up all the scores and were were given a sample of all the winning beers.  This is were the discussion on Best of Show began.  The best of show has to both be a very good beer and it also should be true to the style.  There was a long discussion comparing the merits of each beer.  When it came down to it though it was a fairly easy choice.

 

Group shots by Kim

Winners

Lager/Pilsner: Hoyner Pilsner – Hoyne Brewing Co., Victoria BC
Pale Ale: Red Truck Ale – Red Truck Beer Company, Vancouver BC
IPA: Four Winds White Rye IPA – Four Winds Brewing Co, Delta BC
Wit/Wheat: Robson Street Hefeweizen – Granville Island Brewery, Vancouver BC
Ales: Naramata Nut Brown Ale – Cannery Brewing, Penticton BC
Stout/Porter: Holy Smoke Stout – Firehall Brewery, Oliver BC
Belgian: Sunkissed Tea Saison – Deep Cove, North Vancouver BC
Fruit Beer: Stiegl Radler – McClelland Premium Imports, BC
Ciders: Red Roof Cider – Orchard Hill Estate Cidery, Oliver BC

Best of Show

IPA: Four Winds White Rye IPA – Four Winds Brewing Co, Delta BC

Four Winds Brewing doesn’t seem to slow down on the awards front these days.  Congratulations to all the winners.  You all deserved the awards and should be proud of the medals you received!

Here are some more photos from Kim

Full sized photos can be found here

We then dispersed into the hall for the remainder of the second day of the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale.  After doing the judging for this event I would jump at the opportunity to do it again.  There was no doubt that the other judges had a better understanding of how the judging process worked and the flavour profiles of the ingredients in beer.  But then they are professionals that either work in the field or have been writing about beer for a lot longer than I have.