For all those who follow this blog, my opinion about beer competitions* will be a well known fact; that's why I was a little surprised when a bit over two months ago, Jakub Veselý, of Pivo Falkon fame, asked me if I wanted to be one of the judges of a new international beer competition he's putting together.
I agreed without giving it a second thought. I enjoy having new beer experiences as much as the next beer geek, and this one will also give me a chance to see what competitions are really, first hand.
The first edition of World Beer Idol takes place this Saturday, 9/1, at Zichovecky pivovar. It's very conventional: there are over three dozen categories that cover Lagers, Ales, Weizens, Porters and Stouts, Sours, and even Nealko and Radler; the samples, sent by the breweries, will be evaluated in blind tastings, with a session in the morning and another in the afternoon. Judges have been asked which categories we feel fit to evaluate objectively. I marked a bunch—most of the Lagers and Weizens and a few of the rest—I won't enumerate them because I still don't know which or how many I'll be judging.
I'm not used to evaluating beers on the basis of tasting sample—at least, beers that aren't fucked up—but on the basis of how much I enjoy them and their value for money, and only after having drunk enough—usually, half litre, at least. But the judging criteria is very straightforward, and I know the categories well enough, so I trust I'll be able to do a good job. I'm actually quite looking forward to it. I'll report on the experience, hopefully, some time next week. Stay tuned.
*Just in case: Competitions and their results are irrelevant, as far as the experience of the consumer is concerned. The beers evaluated are samples selected and sent by the breweries themselves; as understandable as that is, they aren't the beers that we drink.
The only exception is První Pivní Extraliga that judges beers from half litre bottles procured by the organisers through regular channels, and also awards consistency. But it's relevant only to that extent, as the evaluation proper is done with blind tastings of small samples.