Beer quality has a name
In the preliminary, intermediate and final rounds of the European Beer Star, it's all or nothing for those breweries that have submitted entries for the prestigious gold, silver or bronze awards for the three best beers in each category and with that a place on the winner's podium. Competing for this year's awards are 2356 beers from 553 breweries from a total of 47 participating countries. A tasting marathon will take place at the Nuremberg Exhibition Centre - the venue of BrauBeviale - and the awards ceremony itself will be held later at BrauBeviale (28-30 November 2023).
The term "European" expresses that beers originating mainly from Europe will compete against each other. It is therefore not a pure European championship, but rather a world championship. A total of 74 different beer styles - for example, well-known classics such as "German-Style Pils" or "South-German Style Hefeweizen hell" as well as exotic varieties, that are household names for beer lovers, such as "Herb and Spice Beer" or "Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer" - are tasted in an anonymised procedure. Increasingly popular non-alcoholic beers are also represented with four categories. New this year: "Grodziskie" from Poland, long forgotten, but now brewed again by some breweries in Poland – will be presented to the judges of the European Beer Star for tasting.
Kilian Kittl, Project Manager of the European Beer Star at the organiser Private Brauereien Bayern e.V., cites the example of an evaluation sheet to explain exactly which standards the jurors apply during the tasting: "The jurors evaluate the submitted beers purely according to sensory criteria. That means that they only judge characteristics that they perceive with their senses - appearance, smell and taste. In this way, each beer receives a score in the preliminary rounds that decides whether or not it advances to the next round. From the intermediate round to the final, the judges discuss and decide collectively on advancement and, in the end, on gold, silver and bronze in each of the 74 categories."
To ensure the highest level of impartiality among the 150-member jury, all samples are coded so that neither the beers nor the submitting breweries can be identified. The two-day tasting marathon in mid-September 2023 in Nuremberg is a good opportunity to look over the shoulders of the tasters and capture the mood in the industry. Beer quality is not a question of brewery size: "The competition is open to everyone: we have entries from large, well-known national breweries, and also from speciality breweries that only produce for their own outlets. All facets of the industry are represented. That is also the strength of this competition, that the breweries are all competing on a level playing field, " says Stefan Stang, General Manager of the Verband Private Brauereien Bayern e.V. (Bavarian Private Breweries Association).
The atmosphere in the tasting room is highly concentrated, the beers are carefully analysed by the judges and their resulting ratings then entered in the appropriate evaluation sheets. At each table 7 to 9 tasters sample a "flight" - which is usually 8 to 10 beers per round. The quality judgement is thus always made on the basis of several individual tasting results.
"In the past, some breweries have been able to re-affirm their award win several times while we have also had absolute newcomers that caused surprises at the awards ceremony, " says Kilian Kittl. The names of the winners of the European Beer Star 2023 will remain a well-kept secret for a few weeks after the tasting. Only at BrauBeviale 2023, the renowned trade fair for the production and marketing of beverages from 28 to 30 November in Nuremberg, will the beer community find out which breweries will take home the gold, silver and bronze awards. The awards ceremony in the BrauBeviale Forum on 29 November 2023 in Hall 1 will - that much is already certain - once again show which beers can be counted among the best in the world.
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