European Beer Challenge 2022

Almost any global organisation or industry seems to have its own competition or awards event. Oftentimes, these can become nothing more than glorified, self-congratulatory masturbation. This is perhaps none the more true than in entertainment sectors like film, TV, and popular music. 

Times are changing. Old stalwarts like the Academy Awards have seen ratings plummet for years now. Of course, there’s always the chance Kanye West might rip the mic out of someone's hand. Or maybe Will Smith will banish another deemed a lesser being to the nether realm with the back of his open hand. 

These days, more people are tuning in for pure moments of gold like one of the many times Ricky Gervais stuck it to big Hollywood while hosting his last Golden Globe Awards.

With all that being said, beer competitions can serve a far greater purpose than solely coddling egos and racking in TV ratings. 

Beer Competitions and Awards

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, beer competitions were held all over the world as annual, bi-annual and one-off events. One of the oldest of these in the UK was held in Islington at The Agricultural Hall; known as Brewer’s Exhibition. These types of events were mainly held to allow equipment manufacturers and ingredient suppliers to connect with large regional brewers. 

Today, many modern beer awards have been organised to unite the small against the behemoths, and in turn, shine a light on the excellence of their peers. The tide has been changing as beer drinkers increasingly flock to smaller craft and micro brands. These events are a great opportunity for the industry to educate consumers and increase awareness. 

In craft beer, the biggest award show has to be the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) hosted in Denver, Colorado annually. The festival was founded by famous American brewer Charlie Papazian. The first one was hosted in 1982 alongside the American Homebrewer’s Association annual conference in Boulder, Colorado. 

Here in the UK, the most famous long-running festival is the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF - confused yet?) hosted in London every year. GBBF has been dubbed the ‘biggest pub in the world’. CAMRA hosted their first large festival in 1975, but the first proper GBBF occurred in 1977 in Alexandra Palace. 

Other important award shows include those run by the Society for Independent Brewers (SIBA) and many other regional organisations.

What is the European Beer Challenge?

The European Beer Challenge may just be the most important awards show that you have never heard of. Many of the big beer festivals are influenced by GABF and operated by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) are at the apex of success for craft breweries. These competitions are held to carefully crafted protocols and guidelines and run by professionals and qualified volunteers. 

Judges during a blind tasting as they score beers at the European Beer Challenge

In other words, they are the best channels we have for possibly quantifying the quality of beer. But of course, the taste is subjective. If one beer scores a 35 and another score a 43 in the same category, no one can say you’re ‘wrong’ if you prefer the former. 

These types of beer judging are great for professionals and homebrewers like ourselves. BJCP beer competitions are also very informative for passionate craft beer drinkers and über beer nerds; they are not always so useful for the average beer drinker. 

The European Beer Challenge brings intuition to the complexities of beer judging. It creates easy and transparent guidance. The judges are all professionals who work for the largest beer buyers and restaurant groups in Europe. 

This means that they are the decision-makers–they heavily rely on their palate to be their guide. Each beer is taken through a blind tasting by a group of judges overseeing its category. 

No one knows what beer they are drinking, only the competition beer style they fall under. Each beer is scored for its appearance, flavour profile, aroma, and structure. The final tally is given. A minimum score must be met for a beer to receive a medal (bronze). Higher scores relieve a silver or gold. 

Receiving any of the three medals is an indication of excellence. Awarded beers are those that professional beer buyers believe to be solid choices for the consumer. 

For the average drinker, the sight of a medal on a package should instil confidence when taking a punt on the unknown. 

Nine for Nine?

In basketball, a player shooting nine for nine from the field in a single game is a rare occasion. In football, the chance of an entire team going nine for nine during penalties is even less likely. Well, you may have been wondering: why all the talk about awards competitions?

We are humbled and excited to announce that Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing Brewery entered nine beers at the European Beer Challenge and won nine medals! We were confident we would do well, but maybe not that confident.

Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing received nine medals from the European Beer Challenge including four golds

What’s even crazier about our wins, as you will see, many of our no- and low-alcohol beers received medals in full strength categories.

The Awards Haul

As we said, we are absolutely elated to announce our European Beer Challenge trophy case. Here is how it has broken down:


Name

Type

ABV Range of Category

Actual ABV

Rating

Easy Rinder

Bavarian Hefeweizen

4.3-5.6%

0.5%

Gold

Edinburgh Blue Balls Lager

Helles, Standard American Lager, Premium American Lager, Munich Helles

4.5-5.1%

2.8%

Gold

Lager Day Saints

Lite American Lager, Australasian, Latin American or Tropical-Style Light Lager

4.1-5.1%

0.5%

Gold

Lumber Jill

American IPA

5.5-7.5%

5.1%

Silver

Shetland Pony

American Style Pale Ale

4.0-6.0%

2.8%

Gold

Short Stack Wheat

Low-alcohol Beer, Experimental Beer

N/A

2.8%

Bronze

Small Kingdom IPA

American IPA

5.5-7.5%

0.5%

Bronze

Teutonic Nights

Munich Helles

4.5-6.0%

5.1%

Silver

Whiskey Barrel Black Lager

Dark American Lager, Wood Barrel Aged, Low-alcohol Beer

4.1-5.6%

2.8%

Silver


Amazingly, all four of our core low- and no-alcohol beers won a gold! Beers like Easy Rinder, Lager Day Saints, Shetland Pony, Small Kingdom, and Edinburgh Blue Balls all punched well above their weight.

We suppose that means we ‘fooled’ the judges who would have been completely unaware of the lack of alcohol in these beers. What we really mean is that we fooled their taste buds - a group of professional beer buyers across Europe–that’s good news for you!

Gotta Try Em’ All!

Our nine beers to receive medals at the 2022 European Beer Challenge

Many of you are reading this and thinking ‘bet I could taste the difference between 0.5% and 5.0+%’. You might be correct; if you’re here reading this blog you are a more discerning drinker than most. As with anything you read on the internet or other information channels, a bit of scepticism is healthy. 

If you really want to find out how many of our no- and low-alcohol beers could stand up to full-strength competition there is only one path. You already know the answer. Head over to our online shop and put an order together!

We recommend adding at grabbing at least one can of each medal winner while available. See for yourself what SiWC beers are all about. And please get in touch with us by email or social media to let us know what you think.


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