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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Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2016 – Penticton


For the third year in a row I was invited to be a judge for the Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale.  Like the last two years the judging took place on day 2 of the festival.  Last year we had 10 Categories to judge from but this year it was up to 14.  The categories were as follows Pilsner/Golden Lager, Pale Ale, Wheat Ale, Belgian Golden/Saison, Amber/Dark Ale, IPA, Dark IPA, Dark Lager, Belgian Strong, Stout/Porter, Blender, Sour, Ciders, Fruit Beer.  With the increase in number of beers being judged this year the organizers of the Fest-Of-Ale invested a few new judges and broke us into three groups.  Each group of judges tasted a third of the beers put in for judging.  Each group picked their top beers beer of each category.  From those they were asked to pick their top two.  These two from each group were brought together to make 6 top beers to choose Best In Show.  From this we sat and sampled each of the six and discussed what one should be the winner.  The following photos of the Judges come from Kim of DogLeg marketing.

Meet The Judges

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Joe Wiebe – Author, Chelsea – Brewtiful BC, Jeremy – Craft Beer Vancouver

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Jason Van Rassel – Daily Beer, Stephen – The Growler, Jim Martin

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Me, Brady Strachan – CBC Radio, Jan Zeschky – Beer writer with The Province

This was a blind tasting like every beer competition.  We used a very simplified score card to decide which beer we though best fit the style and tasted best.  Once again Warren Everton was the Director of Judging.  Each group of three judges tasted their samples individually then came together to discuss their personal favourites.  When we came to a consensus of our top beer in each category the group decided what their top two beers overall were.  For my group there was not a ton of deliberation as we all were fairly similar in or opinions.  When all three groups came together after a short break to taste the top 6 beers and decide what one would be chosen as the Best In Show it actually went pretty well this year.  This year there was much less animosity about what beer should be the winner.  The only real hard discussion we had was should the winning beer be very approachable or should it be our overall favourite. When it came down to it I think we ended up picking the beer that was both our favourite as well as a very approachable beer.  The juding this year started at 10am like normal but it seemed to go a bit quicker than previous years.

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 – Bohemian Pilsner – Hearthstone Brewery, North Vancouver
Pale Ale – Persephone Pale Ale – Persephone Brewing Company, Gibsons
Wheat Ale – Smoked Hefeweizen – Steel & Oak Brewing Company, New Westminster Belgian Golden/Saison – Old Barn Saison – Fernie Brewing Company, Fernie
Amber/Dark Ale – A Wee Angry Scotch Ale – Russell Brewing, Surrey
IPA – Slingshot Session IPA – Fernie Brewing, Fernie
Dark IPA – Disruption Black IPA – Category 12 Brewing, Victoria
Dark Lager – Black Lager – Tree Brewing, Kelowna
Belgian Strong – Delirium Tremens – McClelland Imports
Stout/Porter – Dry Irish Stout – Ravens Brewing, Abbotsford
Blender – Smoke & Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale – Coal Harbour Brewing, Vancouver
Sour – Sour Raspberry – Old Abbey Ales, Abbotsford
Ciders – Calville’s Winter – Twisted Hills Craft Cider, Cawston
Fruit Beer – Tropic Vice Tropical Fruit Ale – Dead Frog Brewing, Aldergrove

Best in Show, Judges’ Choice Award: 

Persephone Pale Ale – Persephone Brewing Company, Gibsons

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

After all the judging was finished we were left to our own devices with what was left of the Saturday portion of the Fest-Of-Ale.  The only thing we had to do was be at the main stage for 3pm so that we could be on the stage for the announcement of the winners.  The following photos are taken again by Kim of DogLeg Marketing.

Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2015.

Fest-Of-Ale Beer Judging 2014.

Full sized photos

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.

 

 

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.