Introducing the Washington Beer Awards

This spring we will finally know which IPA is the best IPA in all the land. Well, in all of Washington anyway. Uh, at least we will know which is best among the IPAs that enter the competition. This spring the Washington Beer Awards presents the state’s first complete craft beer competition. The official press release is below.

As much as it bugs me, it is unavoidable. People want to apply the term best to beers. It’s human nature, I suppose. For whatever silly human reason, something in our ancient DNA wants to have a best against which all others must be judged. I get it. We all want to know who the fastest person alive is, so we have a race. That makes sense. With beer, we too often presume a beer to be the best simply because people on the Beer Advocate forum, or some other public forum, say it is the best. We rely on borrowed opinions. That completely devalues the meaning of the word best.

I don’t mind it when such a determination is based on a blind, empirical tasting. When a group of BJCP judges determines a particular beer (in a group) to be the best, I have no complaints. I may not agree with the judges and the best beer may not be my favorite beer, but I respect the results of equitable competition. They judge beer based on adherence to established guidelines. I judge beer based on personal taste.

Professional brewers have individual palates. When they taste their own beers, their own palates skew their opinions. That’s one of the reasons why beer is so interesting. Each brewery’s interpretation of a particular style is unique. Still, there is value in having panels of unbiased judges evaluate the beers based on the established style guidelines. With that, I introduce the Washington Beer Awards.

Here is the Washington Beer Awards press release.

Washington Beer Awards Coming this Spring

We are proud to announce the Washington Beer Awards, a craft beer competition designed specifically to support Washington’s professional brewers. This Washington-only competition is intended to provide an opportunity for all of Washington’s craft brewers to compete in a blind judging format. It will allow recognition of brewing excellence in Washington and provide constructive feedback supporting future competition entry decisions.

By providing an unbiased and affordable competition for Washington brewers, we can allow all brewers to compete and raise awareness of Washington craft beer both within the state and on the national level.

This competition will provide a venue for Washington brewers to compete locally and receive high caliber of judging. It will be open strictly to Washington brewers and leverage trained judges with a focus on providing feedback tailored for the commercial community.

Judging will be conducted using the nationally recognized Brewers Association style guidelines.

The competition will be held in May 2013 with medals will be provided to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners and special awards will be provided to breweries with many winning beers. Winners will be announced and medals will be awarded at a ceremony in June.

The competition will be run by the longest running organizers of the largest beer competitions in the Northwest. With Master Judge certifications, the organizers will bring the best of Washington’s judging community to celebrate the best of Washington’s beers.

Breweries will be able to begin the registration process in mid-February. You can find more details about the competition at www.wabeerawards.com.

Get ready to recognize the best of Washington’s excellent craft beers!





  1. I’m actually super excited about this. One of the problems with national competitions is that the field is becoming so packed that there are diminishing returns on entering. There were 203 IPA entries in the GABF last year. Can you honestly say the medal winners were significantly better than the next 20 down the list? They’re still technically the top 10%… And at $175 per entry and a one in 70 chance of medaling, why should I enter? (Pride and my competitive streak, but still.)

    So I’m super psyched that we have a competition limited to our own statewide market. Is my IPA better than my friends’ breweries? Will it get people to seek out my beer if I win? Am I gonna not go broke entering? Sweet!

    I agree totally with your point about ‘best’ vs. ‘stylistically closest’. The BJCP guidelines are woefully out of date, so I am really happy they’ll use the BA guidelines instead. And I agree about personal taste. I brew the beer the way I want it to be, and if my Kolsch is a little hoppy or my Brown a little dark, well, that’s the way I likes it. (Now get off my lawn!) 🙂

  2. I’m pretty stoked about it too, actually. I think this it is great that it is a Washington beer throwdown. If you’re going to judge one beer against another, I suppose you need some kind of criteria. Beyond that, I think of style guidelines as…. uh, guidelines. I was never good at coloring inside the lines when I was a kid. I bet Picasso had the same problem.

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