Swiss craft beer champions 2020

Brau & Rauch Beer Contest selects the best Swiss craft beers

The Covid-19 crisis has hit small breweries hard and with the cancelled beer festivals, it has also taken away the platform for them to present themselves to their audiences. At last, the Brau- & Rauch Beer Contest offers placed breweries an opportunity to present themselves to the public. This year an independent jury evaluated over 380 beers in the double-blind procedure and beside the category winners also selected the an overall winner: M14 Bräu from Escholzmatt.

Breweries have been through hard times with the lockdown this year. For many of the smaller, professionally managed craft beer breweries their source of income has diminished from one day to the next. The common effort of all to sell more directly to the consumers has only compensated this loss of income partially. Similarly, most of the beer festivals have fallen victim to the pandemic, which has deprived the breweries of another platform to present themselves and attract new customers.

Even the Brau- & Rauch Beer Contest 2020, planned for the beginning of May, could not be held due to the uncertainty and restrictions prevailing at the time. And it is thanks to the extraordinary effort of all organizers, above all of course the team of the Brau- & Rauchshop, that the prestigious titles could be awarded this year at all.

This means that the participating breweries, which took first to third place in one of the many categories, still had an opportunity to prove the quality of their beers and present themselves to the public. From all category winners, the jury also selected an overall winner. This prestigious title goes this year to M14 Bräu.

Neutral, unbiased feedback

Even though the fifth edition of the B&R Beer Contest had to be postponed, organizer Silvia from the Brau- und Rauchshop has always resisted cancelling the competition. “It was very important to us to be able to offer this platform to the participating hobby, picto, nano and micro breweries”. Only in this way is it possible for the breweries to receive honest, unbiased feedback on their beers without having to resort to expensive laboratory analyses. “Since there are only three prizes per category, the winners really do have a seal of quality,” Silvia continues.

This is also confirmed by Laurent Mousson, independent beer expert and head of the judges at the B&R Beer Contest. “Each beer is judged by at least three judges, who evaluate color, taste, and style and, if the beer has flaws, give the brewer an advice on how to avoid them”. In large categories, e.g. IPA or Juicy and Hazy, there is also a second round of judging by additional judges. This gives the brewers of these beers additional feedback. So not only the top three per category would benefit from sending in the beer, but also all other participants.

The jury, which evaluates the beers, is consisting of skilled experts from the beer scene. “This year, 21 judges have evaluated the more than 380 beers submitted. Of the judges, 10 are brewers, 6 are beer sommeliers and another 5 are beer judges, restaurateurs or beer hunters who are otherwise recognized in the beer scene,” says Christian Jauslin from bierversuche.ch, Doemens beer sommelier and judge at the B&R Beer Contest. He continues: “We are also especially proud of the fact that we were able to win over so many brewers from top Swiss breweries, such as BFM, WhiteFrontier, Hoppy People, Brausyndikat, Brauerei Thun or La Nébuleuse. By the way, breweries which provide judges are not allowed to submit beers to the contest.

Double-blind tasting

Those now thinking that the judges are prejudiced because of the brewery names of the participants and that well-known breweries would get off better than unknown ones, are proven wrong by the set up of this contest. The beers are evaluated in a double-blind procedure. This means that the judges do not know who has submitted a beer at all and secondly, they do not know what kind of beer they are tasting. This guarantees maximum impartiality and a pure focus on the quality and taste profile of the evaluated beers. The beer is served by the B&R team, which does not include judges.

The only thing the judges know is in which category the beer was entered and what style it should have. For example, in the category IPA a West Coast IPA. Even the allocation of the judges to the different tables, who each evaluate one style at a time in order to compare the beers, is not done according to the judges’ preferences for the styles but by their background and their language.

So the winners can be all the more happy about their title, because neither the name nor the good relationship to one of the 21 judges influenced the result. For this year the following beers could be awarded:

Categories and winners

Overall winner over all categories this year was M14 Bräu from Escholzmatt in the category black beer.

1Stollo’s Best Festbierbrauerei
2Brasserie Celestial Sarl
3Stollo’s Best Festbierbrauerei
Belgische Starkbiere
1Rutz Ivo
2Schäfer Kai – Lenzbräu
3Schäfer Kai – Lenzbräu
1Jäggi Philipp – Tucho Brew
2Thomann Lukas
3Helbling Daniel – Brauradau
24655 Brewing Company
1Löffel Tobias – Kwär
2Thomann Lukas
3Janett Mats – Lost Grain
1Elsaesser Jan
2Friederich Dominik – Ahoi Bier
3Jäggi Philipp – Tucho Brew
1Laubscher Martin und Daniel
2Helbling Daniel – Brauradau
3Braufbrik Baden
3Friederich Dominik – Ahoi Bier
Juicy & Hazy
1Foiada Flavio
2Löffel Tobias – Kwär
3Thomann Lukas
1Hebestreit Leonhard
2Garcia Manuel – Viking Brew Lab
3Braumanufaktur Schlachthuus GmbH
1Bracher Michael
2Friederich Dominik – Ahoi Bier
3Thomann Lukas
Pale Ale 
1Friederich Dominik – Ahoi Bier
2Dr. Brauwolf GmbH
3Ruf Beat
1Torkelbräu Vereinsbrauerei
2Baris Kräuterwelt
3Cathélaz Alain
1M14 Bräu
2Wilson Brian
3Garcia Manuel
1Baris Kräuterwelt
2Erschwendner Gerhard – Eibachbraui
3Hausbrauerei Kudibräu
1Foiada Flavio
2Ruf Beat
3Gendre Pascal
Strong Ale 
1Mousse de Thoune
2Brasserie Mundschenk
3Grob Yvonne
Sout/Imperial Stout 
1Scheidegger Kaspar – Shrinkbrew ales
3La Pérégrine Brasserie artisanale
 Imperial Stout
2Friederich Dominik
3Kägi Thomas
1Wittwer Patrick – Tante Flora
3Mousse de Thoune
Weizen und Weizen-Bock
1Ruf Beat
3Friederich Dominik – Ahoi Bier
1Löffel Tobias
2Kuster Kevin
3Nuzzello Davide

All first, second and third place winners in each category will receive vouchers at the Brau- und Rauchshop sponsored by the companies Weyermann Malz, Speidel Tank und Behälterbau and kochtrade. The main winner will also receive a beer cooler “Exclusive” personalized with its own brewery logo.

We from bierversuche.ch congratulate all podium places to their great success. Marcel Alber, Doemens beer sommelier, judge and co-founder of bierversuche.ch is glad that the Brau- & Rauch Beer Contest could take place after all. “It’s great to see the creativity with which brewing is also done in Switzerland and how the quality of the submitted beers improves from year to year. It seems that the brewers take our feedback to heart. It would have been a pity if the Covid pandemic had also made this important contest its victim this year”.

Disclaimer: Bierversuche.ch has supported the B&R Beer Contest with the organization of the judges and has provided two of them, but has no financial participation in the company or the contest. We would like to thank the B&R team for the great organization and their extraordinary commitment. We would also like to thank all judges for their participation. We are already looking forward to next year, hopefully in spring and with a public spring beer festival.

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