September 19, 2009

Beer judging: A dirty job that started at 8 a.m....

UPDATE, Sept. 22: The results are in! For the second year in a row, an Illinois brew wins the Grand Prize. Racine brewmasters won 29 medals, including 12 first prizes. See below...

Original post:

As if Saturday's Brew Fest was not enough, the Schooner Homebrew Competition went on full bore today.

Thirty beer judges started at 8 a.m. this morning (Yes, beer for breakfast!) judging the last of 517 entries from all over the country... bottles of homebrew in many categories. Judging actually started two days ago.

They were huddled in the basement of D.P. Wigley, sitting two or three at a table, going through dozens of bottles brought in from all over the country via FedEx and UPS (No, the Postal Service won't deliver beer.) Many of the judges were BJCP-certified (via the Beer Judge Certification Program). Its guidelines fill a 66-page booklet, describing the standards for 28 types of beer, mead and cider.

The beers judged today included European Amber Lager, Oatmeal Stout, English Brown, Weizen, Belgian Blonde, Fruit Beer, and many more. Sad to say, there was much "alcohol abuse" ... judges carefully eyeball the beer to check its color and texture, sniff it, slosh it around in a glass -- and barely taste it. Most is thrown away.

Rick McNabb of Union Grove, steward and competition organizer, said the Schooner Homebrew Championship drew entries from 17 states, including two cases from the St. Louis homebrew club. The club with the most medal-winning beers earns a $250 prize; all winners earn a medal. The competition is run by three area homebrew clubs: the Belle City Home Brewers, the Beer Barons of Milwaukee and the Kenosha Bidal Society.

But the big prize won't be awarded until next week: All of the entrants submitted two bottles of each beer, and the second bottle from each of the Schooner medal winners will go on to compete at Milwaukee's Rock Bottom Brewery. The best-of-show winner there will be brewed commercially. Next week's winning brewmaster will get a half-barrel of the winning beer, a party for 20, a professionally-designed label ... and, of course, bragging rights that will last at least until next year.

Results from the Rock Bottom Brewery:


1st place: Brett Wilkes - Algonquin, IL - Imperial brown Ale

2nd place: Brian Hanold - Oconomowoc, WI- Scottish 60

3rd Place: Kevin Flynn - Racine, WI - Cherry Ale

CIDER - Steve Olsen - Menasha, WI - Griffen Cider
MEAD - Ryan Verkennis, Blaine, MN - Viking Mead
SAKE - Doug Zobel, Oak Park, IL - Junmai Sake

COMPLETE RESULTS -- all 500+ entries -- HERE.


  1. And the winners are???

  2. READ ABOVE:the big prize won't be awarded until... The 1st place beers from each category are judged Monday night at Rock Bottom Brewery. It is open to the public, so stop on by and show your support for Racine brewers that did really well...I can tell you that Racine brewers had quite a few 1st place beers that will be in the judging for Best of Show...obviously, you shouldn't disclose all the category winners until all judging is final...

  3. Each category had a winner (as well as a second and third place) announced on Saturday. The category winners are competing against each other for "Best of Show" at Rockbottom. There should be no secret about the category winners.

  4. There should be a secret about category winners at Best of Show. Since many Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha club members know each other, and judges are from those clubs, if a judge were to know one of his members had the 1st place IPA, for example, and then came across it in judging, it could influence his vote...

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