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.