When you see advertising for beer, some of them advertise awards that they have won at various beer festivals and/or competitions.
What are the judging standards at these competitions, and what are the most prestigious competitions?
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Main categories include:
Some of the sub-categories of beer include:
I think winning an award at any sanctioned competition would be huge. I do see the World Beer Awards, the US Open Beer Championships, Great American Beer Festival, and North American Beer Awards, just to name a few. There are also Homebrewing awards that are very competitive.
In a nutshell, most beer judging is based on how well the beer represents the style category that it is entered into.
These aspects of the beer are evaluated to see if they match with what is expected for the style:
All of these are evaluated with respect to what is expected for the style, and points assigned. The beer may be perfectly drinkable, but be marked down because it doesn't fit with the style. For example, a hefeweizen that is dark would be lose points for appearance since they are light-colored beers by style.
Judging sheets often have a list of flavor descriptors. Some flavors are bad for any beer, such as rubber, astringent, soapy, while others may or may not be considered faults depending upon style. For example, fruitiness in an English Ale is much desired, but not in a Pilsner, similarly low levels of diacetyl in a Stout is acceptable, but not in a Hefeweizen.
The BJCP Scoresheet provides a working example of the notes a beer judge