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Beer Awards Platform


10 Steps for a Successful Beer Competition

Amanda Renaly
Amanda Renaly
Cover Image for 10 Steps for a Successful Beer Competition

Photo by Copa Brassagem Forte de Cerveja Caseira.

Organizing a beer competition can be an exciting experience, both for participants and those who enjoy bringing the community together around this passion. Putting together a successful competition depends on various factors, such as the number of participants, the rules, prizes and how to handle the entries. However, the major element to make it all work is the organizing team. In essence, they play a pivotal role in not only setting the overall tone of the competition but also in meticulously orchestrating the details that contribute to its seamless execution. So, this text is dedicated to you, the organizers, especially to the newcomers.

We've touched on this topic before in an interview with David Houseman, co-author of the BJCB Competition Handbook. However, today, we'll revisit some important points. The following suggestions are not part of an absolute guide; we simply want to show you 10 steps that can help organize a successful competition that promotes the growth of the brewing community and can make brewers recognized for their productions. So, shall we dive in? 

1. Set Clear Goals: Before you start planning, an important step is to define the goals of your beer competition. Ask yourself what you want to achieve with the event, whether it's promoting the local beer community, highlighting talented brewers, energizing the beer scene, or simply providing a unique experience for participants. With this first point defined, subsequent decisions will be made more effectively and aligned with your central objective.

2. Recruit a Competent Team: Forming a qualified team is crucial. Make sure you have experienced individuals aligned with your primary goal. Keep in mind that this team will be responsible for various aspects of the event, so define clear roles that contribute to effective coordination. According to Jason Wing, for the American Homebrew Association (AHA) website, some of the roles to consider include:

  • Event Coordinator: This person plays a central role in decision-making when organizing a competition. It is important for the event coordinator to maintain clear and aligned communication with all the team to ensure the execution as planned. Their main responsibilities include deciding on the use of digital platforms, maintaining a comprehensive inventory of necessary materials (labels, awards, logistics), and ensuring that all documentation required for the competition is in order.

  • Head Judge: This individual is tasked with contacting and ensuring the presence of an adequate number of judges for the competition. Working closely with the Event Coordinator, the Head Judge is dedicated to ensuring the logistics of the judging sessions, preventing interest conflicts between entries and judges. Additionally, they are responsible for selecting certified judges who can contribute to the growth of participating brewers.

  • Sponsorship Coordinator: The role of this individual is to establish contact with potential sponsorship partners, such as local breweries, beer supply stores, and other businesses. In addition to securing funds to make the competition possible, this person also works as an intermediary between these companies and the competition, seeking contributions for the prizes, whether through gift coupons or other types of awards.

  • Data Entry: After the completion of the judging session process, the steward team collects the scoresheets and delivers them to the person responsible for entering this data into the system, in addition to scanning it. This procedure becomes unnecessary when using an automated platform for the judging process, which streamlines the collection, organization, and submission of data, as is the case of BAP. Depending on the size of the competition, a whole team might be necessary to perform this task.

  • Cellar Manager: This role requires an organized and efficient team tasked with labeling the entries and coordinating the logistics of delivery for each flight in the judging session. The size of the team will depend directly on the scale of the competition and the number of entries submitted.

  • Head Steward: Similar to the Head Judge, this individual takes on the coordination of the steward team and organizes the method and sequence of the flights. It is desirable for the person in this position to have previous experience as a steward in other competitions.

3. Establish a Budget: This is a critical point! Establish a budget, taking into account expenses such as venue rental, promotion costs, prizes, and expenses for invited judges (flight, accommodation, meals). With these expenses in mind, you can begin seeking potential sponsors and supporters, as mentioned in the previous point, working together with the Sponsorship Coordinator. This step also helps you to determine entry fees and explore other ways to raise the necessary resources.

Photo: European Beer Star

4. Choose the Venue and Date: The selection of the venue is a major aspect that should be carefully considered to ensure the success of your event. It is recommended to conduct research to identify spaces that can comfortably accommodate the entire judging team and provide a suitable place for entries storage. In addition to the necessary infrastructure, it is essential to evaluate the convenience of the location. Make sure that the chosen venue is easily accessible.

Furthermore, it is important to check whether the planned competition date does not coincide with other beer competitions or holidays, which could impact participation and the success of the event.

5. Create Competition Rules: This document will establish all criteria for the competition. It will outline the competition categories, as well as the choice of guidelines that will serve as the judging criteria, whether it be the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) or the Brewers Association. Additionally, the competition rules will contain essential information about entries packaging and submission, deadlines, and entry fees.

If this is your first competition, a helpful approach is to research regulations from previous competitions, study them, and use them as a reference for constructing your regulations. You can check which competitions are currently open for registration and examine how regulations are structured on our website. However, it's important to create a clear and concise document to avoid confusion.

6. Select Diverse and Experienced Judges: Gathering a panel of qualified and trained judges is vital. Seek to establish clear evaluation criteria, provide anonymized samples, and organize judging fairly and transparently. Additionally, forming a diverse panel of judges is recommended, as it brings a multitude of perspectives and promotes the exchange of experiences among everyone involved.

To ensure success on the official judging day, it's important to conduct early training sessions. This allows judges to become familiar with the specifics of the event, understand the adopted criteria, and be prepared for the big day.

Photo: Copa 3 Ciudades

7. Promote the Competition: To attract participants, effective promotion is the key, and a well-crafted marketing strategy makes all the difference in the success of the competition. In addition to having a team familiar with communication processes, it is essential for the competition to keep communication channels updated, such as social media and an official website. Promotion can also benefit from collaborative content with partners on social media, releases on specialized websites, and the use of email marketing.

When promoting the competition, highlight the prizes, the presence of recognized and renowned judges, and emphasize all the benefits that participation can provide, such as improvement, networking opportunities, and the chance to connect with the brewing community.

8. Coordinate Event Logistics: Plan the logistics of the event meticulously, covering everything from entries transportation to the organization of judging tables. Ensure the availability of appropriate glasses, palate-cleansing water, and other necessary resources such as power cables and internet. To execute this logistics plan successfully, it's important to enlist the support of volunteers.

Furthermore, take into account that many participants may be coming from out of town. Therefore, provide guidance on transportation options, accommodations, and leisure activities in the area to ensure a complete and enjoyable experience for those involved in the competition.

Photo: Best of Craft Beer Awards

9. Organize a Memorable Award Ceremony: This is your (h)opportunity to wrap up the event with a golden bow! Make the award ceremony special to celebrate the winners and create a memorable moment for everyone involved. Prepare trophies, medals, and special prizes to acknowledge the outstanding contributions. Utilize this occasion to express gratitude to sponsors, volunteers, and participants for their invaluable support. The award ceremony is not just about recognizing achievements; it's a chance to build and strengthen bonds within the beer community.

10. Utilize BAP as Your Official Competition System: BAP is here to assist you at every stage of the competition, from registration to entry receipt, judging sessions, cellar management, marketing, volunteers management and results. Count on our platform to ensure the success of your competition.

Photo: Copa Brassagem Forte de Cerveja Caseira

We understand that organizing a competition can be challenging, which is why we've developed a checklist for you to ensure that everything is perfect for the big day. You can download it by clicking the button below:

We have hosted hundreds of competitions and our team members have participated as staff members, judges or organizers of hundreds of such events. You can rely on us to discuss strategic steps of your event organization and any components of putting together your beer competition that may be worrying you and your team.

If you're not already using BAP for your beer competitions, schedule a free demonstration with our team and elevate the quality of your next competition.


BJCP - Getting Started and Competition Planning

AHA - A Quick Guide to Running a Homebrew Competition

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