Beer Judging at Ludlow Spring Food Festival

The judging of the real ale at the Ludlow Spring Beer Festival was both interesting and enjoyable. There were about 100 judges altogether with some novices like myself and David Battisby, and some experts, some of whom are brewers themselves and others get invited to judge beer at events all over the country.

The day started with registration and a bacon and sausage bap and then we had the welcome and introduction by one of the SIBA members. We were split into about 20 tables of 5 or 6 and we had to sample between 8 and 12 beers, judging them for appearance, aroma, taste (worth double points for obvious reasons), after-taste and saleability. It was interesting to see how the experts dealt with it, some of whom shone a torch into their glass to check for clarity and, presumably, to see whether or not the bits floating around in the beer were good or bad bits.

We discussed each beer in the small groups and gave our marks. There are so many different tastes and we all like different things so we did not always agree with the views of our fellow judges.

After round one the lowest scoring beers where rejected and rounds 2 and 3 followed similar paths, so that by the end of round 3 we had sampled and given marks to 23 different beers. The beers themselves were simply given a number so we did not know which beers we were drinking.

The final round was tested by a much smaller group of about 20 judges. Eventually the winning beers were announced with the gold, silver and bronze winners for each of 8 categories. Then, as they do at Crufts, there were prizes for the best three beers out of all of the 200 or so. The overall winner came from the North Cotswold Brewery and was called "Hung, Drawn ‘N Portered".

I got to meet and chat to a good number of people, both local and from other parts of England and Wales, all of whom have a great interest in and love of real ales from small independent breweries.
Lager drinkers you don't know what you're missing!

Just to show that Friday’s judging was not too heavy an experience I returned to the Castle on Saturday, with friends, to enjoy the main event with many hundreds of others. The Spring Beer Festival has only been going for five or six years but each year it seems to be doubling in size which is a credit to our new neighbours here at the Ludlow office, in particular Beth Heath and Phil and Sally Maile and their large team of willing helpers.
Colin Spanner judging the beer at Ludlow Spring Food Festival

Cheers Colin!