For the first time in the seven-year history of the Brau- & Rauchshop Beer Contest, there were no winners in one category. Why? The short answer is because no beer deserved it. The slightly more detailed answer below.
A murmur went through the audience when Michel announced that there was no winner in the Double IPA category this year. He quickly passed the microphone to explain why.
Only one winner per category
What sets the B&R Beer Contest apart from other Swiss (and sometimes international) awards is that there is only one winner per category, only one runner-up and so on. The tasting of the beers takes place in a double blind procedure, i.e. the jurors neither know whose beer they are tasting nor who has submitted beers at all.
The jury is made up of proven experts (mainly brewers and sommeliers) who not only evaluate the beers but also comment on them and, if necessary, provide feedback for improvement. The evaluation is based mainly on appearance, taste, any faults and trueness to style.
4 in the wrong category and 3 with diacetyl
Thus was the scenario: The jurors received 6 beers that were submitted in the DIPA category. Three beers were described by the brewers as Imperial Ale, one as Rauchbier. Of the 6 beers, 3 had a distinctive diacetyl aroma – which must be considered a fault in this style of beer – and the judges opined that 4 beers were submitted in the wrong category.
After an exchange with head judge Laurent Mousson, it was decided not to award first place. This was because no beer would have been justified in calling itself the Best DIPA of the Year.
“We’ve never had that before,” explains Laurent Mousson. “And we couldn’t in good conscience give an award to a beer that didn’t meet the expectations for this style of beer,” the internationally experienced head judge explains.
All winners have earned it
This may sound unusual to a Swiss ear, but in the end it says one thing above all: the beers that won at the B&R Beer Contest have earned the award and can wear it with pride. And as Laurent already explained in the Qoqa blog post: Submitting the beer in the right category can make the difference between success and failure. Because apparently, according to one judge from the DIPA panel, there was an excellent Strong Ale among the DIPAs. But that beer should then have been submitted under the Strong Ale category.
Last but not least, it also means that a beer with diacetyl should not win any category – unless the category allows diacetyl. And unfortunately, many of the beers submitted by home and microbreweries still have faults. “The quality of the beers is getting better every year,” Mousson says with satisfaction. The organisers of the B&R Beer Contest also repeatedly receive grateful feedback from the brewers, who are pleased with both the praise and the critical feedback or advice on how to avoid mistakes. At the same time, Laurent also puts the improvement into perspective: “The number of beers of average quality is getting bigger and bigger and, unlike in the past, almost no beers are submitted anymore where everything went wrong.” So the next logical step is to raise the average and increase the number of outstanding beers. In this scenario, a DIPA can then also be celebrated as the winner of the category again. We are looking forward to it.