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CA State Fair beer judging 2014

Commercial Beer Judging-slide0
Susan Kelly

Sunday June 22nd marked the final day for the California State Fair Craft Brew Competition. Over 850 beers were evaluated over four days by commercial brewers, Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judges, and media. This is a record for this competition, and the bragging rights are hard to dispute for those breweries who win a ribbon. Even better for that brewery who wins at the Best Of Show round where all the first place entries go head-to-head. Track 7 in Sacramento gets this prestigious honor with their American IPA. The contract for this competition (as well as the homebrew competition) is owned by the Northern California Brewers Guild, which is based in Sacramento. Renowned local experts make up the bulk of the judges, and this is also staffed by many locals who make this a smooth operation, especially with stewarding and cellaring. DBI Beverage in West Sacramento was the host for the event, and their large facility is critical for the vast amount of beer to be stored.

CA State Fair beer judging
Susan Kelly

The beers are presented in flights of about 10 to a panel of three judges. Sending on the best of that set to a further round (mini Best Of Show, or mini-BOS), will have those top beers go against another panels best beers. This is needed as no judge can handle some of the palate-fatiguing beers that are high alcohol, or very robust in flavors. The event was well-paced, and the judges were allowed the proper amount of time, and food, to allow for a few hours of judging for many of the judges.

See the complete list here to see if your favorites made the list, but keep in mind the vastness of this competition. Some categories had over 50 entries, making those what win genuine standouts. Some of these beers will be available at the California State Fair festival. See www.castatefair.org for details on their events (more details on the beer festival in a later article), but in the meantime visit our local breweries who did so well to distinguish themselves.