Beer Judging FAQ

1. I heard there was a beer judging competition involved in the Calgary International Beer Festival, what does that look like?

Essentially, a panel of certified beer judges (yes, it’s a thing) will deliberate over beers registered in 20 different categories, awarding gold, silver and bronze certifications to the best beers in their  respective categories, to the best of their ability.

2. Can anyone register and participate in the competition?

No, only breweries and agencies participating in the festival may register a beer to be judged. There are strict rules and regulations governing the number of beers they may register, as well as the availability of those beers for judging, which have been posted for those who are eligible to register.

If you represent a brewery or agency wishing to register for the beer judging competition, please contact Bill Robinson with any questions you may have.

3. Can regular festival goers participate some how?

Yes! the Calgary International Beer Festival’s beer judging competition has a fan favourite component. Look for voting cards throughout the BMO Centre during the weekend of May 2-3, 2014!

4. What are the different categories?

There are 20 categories in the beer judging competition. They are:

  • Light Lager
  • Pilsner
  • Amber / Dark Lager / Bock
  • Light Hybrid
  • UK Ales
  • American Ales
  • Porters
  • Stouts
  • India Pale Ale (IPA)
  • Gluten-Free
  • Wheat, Wit, Rye
  • Belgian / French Ale
  • Cider & Perry
  • Specialty Beers
  • Traditional Mead / Melomel (Fruit Mead) / Other Mead
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Fruit Beers
  • Best Friday Cask
  • Best Saturday Cask

5. Who are the judges?

Each judge has been selected through the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), a rigorous course designed to promote beer literacy and appreciation. for more information on the BJCP, visit

6. How does one judge a beer? what should I look for in judging a good beer?

Beer is the second most popular beverage in the world – after water, of course. Its consumers can range from those who just want a cold brewsky after a long day at work, to those who sip each beer with the same appreciation as a wine connoisseur. No matter where you fit in, your beer won’t judge you. But if you want to learn how to judge a beer, look no further. Calgary International Beer Festival is the perfect event to try out some of those beers that you’ve seen on the shelves of a store but haven’t tried yet. Who knows – that new beer could be to you like scotch was to Robbie Burns.

There are two general classifications to break beer into – Ales and Lagers. The difference in a nutshell? Ales are fermented at warm temperatures and turn out more robust than their lager brothers. Lagers, fermented at cold temperatures, are more mellow.

From here it gets more complex. There are large varieties within the ale and lager families, and even some beers that don’t really fit in either.

How do you pick which classification is right for you, and then which beer within that classification will suit your mood or go along with your meal?

There are five main criteria to look for when judging beer:

  • Bouquet & Aroma
  • Appearance
  • Flavour
  • Body
  • Drinkability & Overall Impression

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