Last week, EeBriaTrade was invited to help judge beers entered into the International Beer Challenge. Now in its 23rd year, the IBC aims to reward and promote excellent beers from around the globe and provide brewers with a platform to express their beers to trade and consumers. There are now over 72 different categories and entries come from no fewer than 40 countries. Beers are awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals and there are further trophies are awarded for Best Ale, Best Lager, Best Stout or Porter, Best Wheat Beer, Best Flavoured Beer and Best Speciality Beer, and, from these winners, a supreme champion beer is picked.

In 2018, Gold medal winning breweries include Harbour, Harviestoun and Fourpure. Silver medalists include Long Man, Lost Pier, Sadler's Ales, Tempest, Thornbridge, Seven Bro7hers, Stewart and Wold Top. Bronze medalists included Black Sheep, Septem (Greece), Jabru, Nirvana and St Peter's.

The 2019 grand winners will be announced in September, but read on to hear more about how we got on with judging this year’s entries.

Medal Announcement

The 2019 medals have been announced, find the full list below. In total, judges awarded 64 Gold Medals, 196 Silver and 282 Bronze Medals

Jeff Evans, Chairman of the International Beer Challenge said "The IBC has long championed the idea that a beer should win prizes simply on how good it is, rather than how closely it adheres to some pedantic definition of style. We believe that when customers enter an off-licence, while they may have an idea of the broad type of beer they want to buy, they are not fixated by technical profiles and simply want to know what is going to taste good when they open the bottle or can.

“This is the principle that we again rolled into play at this year’s IBC judging. The net result this year was that our judges discovered nearly 300 bronze medallists and nearly 200 silver medallists – all of whom have much to celebrate as a result. Most importantly, however, they also decided on more than 60 gold medallists from a wide range of countries, from Belgium to Brazil, Colombia to Cambodia, Myanmar to Mexico.

Golds were awarded to Fourpure, and design Golds were given to Fourpure and Moncada for their Blueprint series. Silvers and Bronze medals went to: Edinburgh Beer Factory, Fyne, Harviestoun, Lost Pier, Quantock, Big Drop, Septem (Greece), St Peter's, Salopian, West Berkshire and Five Points

The Judging Process

70 Industry experts were invited to The Royal Honorable Artillery Company barracks in central London. Judges were drawn from multiple fields including brewers, retailers, importers, publicans, writers, flavour analysts and of course, online distributors. 12 tables were laid out with each group being made up of a cross section of judges. A table captain led the tasting and aggregated the judgements of the table to be submitted to the chairman. One after another, flights of unlabelled samples were bought out from behind a screen and the table passed their assessments. As judges, we were looking for well made, interesting beers that deserve to be consumed and recommended.

There were some fantastic beers that leapt out of the glass and showed their medal worthiness straight away, and there were others that weren't so good. Discussions on the table were lively and spirited, but the highly capable table captain kept everyone engaged and ensured the whole panel's opinion was reflected in the scores submitted. Our mix of backgrounds showed itself as we worked through styles that some of us had more experience of than others. Opinions on NE IPAs and the use of barrels, botanicals and exotic fruit in beers were shared at length before reaching a final decision as a table.

Our table worked through 11 six beer flights, and the strength and flavour intensity gradually increased throughout the day. With so many categories to judge, other tables in the room were judging different beers so lunch was a good opportunity to hear about the experiences of other parts of the room. By late afternoon, judging was completed and the many empty glasses, spitoons and crackers begun to be cleared away.

We see a lot of beer at EeBriaTrade, from nearly 600 different producers. We welcome judging panels such as the International Beer Challenge as they serve as a symbol of quality, acknowledging the skill of the brewer. Medals are displayed on beer labels and restaurateurs, bar owners and hoteliers are proud of the award winning beers they carry. Drinks lists promote IBC award-winners directly to the consumer and can influence their buying decision and as a result, increase a brands' profile, prestige and sales.

To learn more about the International Beer Challenge, head over to their website and check back here in September once the final medals have been announced.

Check out the 2019 Medal Winning beers

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