National Homebrew Competition – The Results Are In

Saturday 3rd of September saw the culmination of the National Homebrew Competition. Originally organised as a regional competition by the Bristol Craft Brewers it adopted the mantle of the National competition after the demise of the annual Sutton event.

The competition is open to all brewers, group and non group members, Craft Brewing Association and non CBA members, Full mash, kit brewers, young, old…Everyone.

Ali Kocho-Williams and his team put a lot of work into getting a venue, sponsors for the event, and setting up a very professional entry system.

The competition attracted 116 brewers, who between them submitted 258 beers. The range of classes was very broad as the competition was run / organised under the American BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) guidelines which provide very thorough style guidelines and tutored training for the judges, with exams to pass to qualify as BJCP approved judges.

A few members of the Oxford Brewers Group submitted beers to the competition, with Matthew Hicks entering a competition for the first time and coming away with a 3rd place in the Porter class. Oxford Brewers Group’s Graeme Coates, who has entered a number of competitions in the past, with good success too, came away with another excellent result. Here is a rundown of Graeme’s notable mentions.

  • 1st Place Weizen
  • 1st Place Belgian
  • Joint 1st Strong Ales
  • 1st place and 2nd place in American Amber / Brown Ales
  • 2nd and 3rd place overall in Best of Show

As I think you will agree, that is an above average showing, especially for such a strong competition (in UK terms).

Getting a certificate is not the only reason for taking part in a competition such as this though. One of the benefits of having experienced judges taste your beers is that as part of the competition you recieve feedback from the judges on your beer. Even for someone who places as highly as Graeme, this information is very useful in getting an understanding of some of the more subtle faults that may be in the beer. It provides useful feedback from someone impartial and, if you are so inclined, can help you tweak your recipe and method to improve your beer. Many people enter competitions for this reason alone, and appreciate the comments.

Congratulations to Graeme, and to all the brewers around the UK who took part and got a placing or a highly commended mention.

1 thought on “National Homebrew Competition – The Results Are In

  1. Thanks Matthew, feedback is incredibly important in trying to improve your beers – some faults are particularly obvious, some more subtle and it’s useful to have them pointed out by a completely impartial judge (it’s all judged anonymously so there’s no “friend/family” bias that often occurs!).

    Of course having said this, there’s a lot to be said for trying to learn about faults yourself as a brewer. I helped steward in London in November for the ordinary bitter/milds and it was surprising how many beers with really clear faults were entered – see my blog post: . There is a lot to be said for both entering beers for feedback, but I feel there’s possibly better feedback on improving fair to good beers rather than really bad ones (it’s harder to pick out subtle improvements on top of a beer that is badly infected for example).

    It’s also particularly useful to volunteer to steward in these competitions – not only does it help the organiser out to have a lot of helpers, but observing and taking part in the judging process is incredibly insightful!

    Also worth noting that the BJCP, while US based, is actively expanding its presence in other countries – with luck I will be taking the BJCP exam in Oct 2012 along with another 20 people in the UK, thus hugely expanding on the 7 active judges in the UK already – good judges are important in receiving good feedback – and I think the levels of feedback in UK based competitions is improving as we go on.

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