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Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2016 – Announcement of Winners on 2. July

Mark the date: 19:30, 2nd July @ Home World Beer Bar (Neue Bahnhofstraße 23, 10245 Berlin)

All brewers and homebrewers are welcome to attend the announcement of the winners of the Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2016.


19.30: arrival of participants and their guests
20.00: announcement of the winners
20.30: Party Time!

All entrants to the Berlin Homebrewing Competition will also have the chance to collect their Judge feedback sheets on the night.


HOME & Getränkefeinkost Berlin have been so kind to contribute to a fresh keg of a classic beauty: Fuller’s London Pride – there is at least one free pint for all participants!
And, yes, from 21:00 you can watch the football Quarter Final on one of the screens at HOME as well!




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Selecting a Jury for the Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2016



On Saturday, 21.05.2016, several brewers gave up a couple of hours of their Saturday afternoon in order to take part in the Judge Qualification Tests for the Berlin Homebrewing Competition.

For this year, we specifically set the goal of having objective tests, with standardised sensory tests (via FlavorActiv off-flavour kits) as well as technical written test. The bar needs to be raised on judging homebrewing in Germany and the most effective way to do this is in such competitions and setting high requirements for all participants.

Today, I had the unenviable task of reviewing these tests and informing the judge applicants about their abilities and suitability to be on the judging panel. As is always the case with such selection processes, some homebrewers will be disappointed not to be included. The goal of this article is to be public and open on what basis our judges were selected and to stand by our decision.


Summary of the tests

  1. Written Test:
    • Eight broad technical questions were asked about brewing methods and beer judging.
    • Berlin homebrewers were all technically competent, with consistently high marks across all applicants.
  2. Off-Flavour Sensory Test:
    • 4 samples prepared with FlavorActiv off-flavour kits for beer were used: acetaldehyde, DMS, cardboard and Phenolic (4-vinyl-guiacol) notes.
    • This is the test that was the most challenging – with only one participant scoring 3/4.
    • Notes on the objectivity / difficulty of the test:
      • Each of the off-flavours could be detected by at least 1 participant (i.e. none were impossible to detect)
      • DMS and phenolic (4-vinyl-guiacol) were the most easily detectable, as indicated by over half the participants
      • Papery/Wet cardboard (Trans-2-nonenal) was the most difficult to detect.
      • Due to the difficulty of this test, the total passing level was reduced to 60% for the combined score
  3. Sample Judging of Homebrew:
    • Two beer samples were presented: Ordinary Bitter (weak beer with strong oxidation flaws) and an Imperial Stout (with more minor grain bill and acidity flaws)
    • Participants were rated on their ability to notice strong off-flavours and brewing flaws.
    • Correct analysis was rewarded, while false positives and false negatives were both penalised


Congratulations to the five Beer Judges who have been selected for the Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2016!!


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WOLFGANG official release party: Sunday @ Lager Lager


There is a new brewery in Berlin: WOLFGANG

This Sunday, they will be launching their first two beers, “W” a delicious big and juicy IPA that I have had the good fortune to sample already and “L” the new Pale Ale. WOLFGANG are gypsy brewing at Heidenpeter’s, Markthalle 9 at the moment but are establishing an own brewery in Berlin.


When: Sunday, 22.05 @ 13:00

Where: Lager Lager, Pflügerstraße 68, 12047 Berlin, Germany

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/804439353024628/804462213022342/




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Last Chance for Judge Applications for the Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2016

Introduction to the Competition

The Berlin Homebrewing Competition is taking place in 2016 for the second time. Founded in 2015 and based in Berlin/Brandenburg, this annual competition is organised by homebrewers for homebrewers and is the largest of its kind in Germany. As the interest in homebrewing has blossomed in Berlin, the competition is expanding this year. We expect more entrants; we have more categories and we will have an experienced Competition Jury from the community to judge the competition.


Ther Brewing Industry International Awards - Judging, Burton 2011

Beer Judging – More Than A Beauty Contest

Beer judging is a discipline that requires both deep knowledge of brewing as well as sensory abilities to be able to put this knowledge to work. Unlike many other competition forms, beer judging does not just require giving scores to entrants and selecting the ultimate category winners. In fact, this is almost of secondary important in the competition!

Far more important is that each entrant receives fair, honest and expert feedback on the beer that they have entered. All brewers can benefit from the experience of their peers to improve their brewing technique. The technical and sensory feedback recorded during the competition judging is in many ways the most important aspect of the competition itself.

For this reason, it is vital that competition judges are experienced homebrewers themselves, who can detect both how successful the beer is brewed according to style as well as the flaws that may have been introduced during the brewing process.



Requirements for Beer Judges in 2016

For the Berlin Homebrewing Competition 2016, our judges will be selected based on three requirements. These are:

  1. Deep Brewing Experience: Successful applicants will be experienced brewers or homebrewers. Since judges will be assigned to particular competition categories, they must be familiar with all the styles within a category and be able to give each individual brewers constructive, technical feedback on the positive and negative aspects of their brewing abilities. This is only possible with deep brewing experience.
  2. Proven Sensory Abilities: The selection process will involve a sensory test, in order to verify the applicant’s sensory abilities – in particular their ability to detect off-flavours / brewing flaws. Since all judges will be giving technical feedback to all entries, they must be able to prove their objective brewing knowledge in this test.
  3. Positive, collaborative attitude: The competition was founded for the benefit of homebrewers. Unlike many commercial competitions, this competition exists not as an opportunity for (self-)promotion, but in order to encourage brewing as a hobby. Judges must be willing to collaborate in a positive manner and provide constructive feedback for all participants.


Format of Competition Judging Sessions

In 2016, the competition judging sessions will take place on 04.06 & 18.06.2016. For each category in the competition, judges will sit together and review the style descriptions of the category that they are about to judge.

Over several hours, the beers will be judged blindly in rounds of 6-8 beers at a time: unlabelled samples will be brought out to each judge, who is expected to spend 4-5 minutes analysing each beer, taking technical notes and awarding that beer a score.

In a final discussion round in each category, judges will collaborate to select a winner for that category and discuss why the beer merits the first place. Judging sheets are collected and will be distributed to the participants during on the date of the awards ceremony.


Competition Categories

In 2016, the competition categories are:

  1. Bottom Fermenting (Pils, Helles, Dunkel)
  2. Hefeweizen/Wheat Beer
  3. Pale Ale
  4. IPA
  5. Brown Ale, Porter, Stout
  6. Special Category for 2016: Belgian Ales



Thank you for your interest in the competition!


Rory Lawton (Head Competition Judge)


Christian Glaeser (Head Organizer)



Further Information

  • Web:berlinhomebrewingcompetition.de
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/berlinhomebrewingcompetition/
  • Twitter: @berlinbrew2016

Blind German Pils Tasting #3 – In the Land of the Blind…


This report is the third of a series of blind German Pils tastings that have taken place at Hopfen & Malz, the beer specialist store in Wedding, Berlin, with the widest selection of Pilsner beers that you are likely to find north of the Main river.

As always, tasting pils in this way once more proved to be an extremely difficult excercise, with breweries producing beer within an extremely narrow range of flavour profiles – most of them technically well-brewed – but failing to inspire gushing praise.

For the results of the previous tastings, please refer to the following pages:

Blind Pils Tasting

On Saturday, 9th April 2016, eleven experienced beer lovers once again sat down at Hopfen & Malz in order to sample a total of nine different German Pilsners. The participants included brewers, home-brewers and other beer professionals. As in previous tastings, participants had no knowledge of the breweries involved in the tasting and all samples were poured out of view.


Blind Tasting – Group Results

The following results are the average from the combined group results from all eleven participants, using the German scoring system (1=very good, 6=very bad):

1. Gampert Förster-Pils (average score: 2,14)
2. Veltins Pils (average score: 2,85)
3. Krug Pils (average score: 3,02)
4. Schönramer Pils (average score: 3,07)
5a. Debringer Pils (average score: 3,17)
5b. Hummel-Pil (average score: 3,17)
7. Oettinger Pils (average score: 3,25)
8. Heidenpeters PILZ (average score: 3,67)
Wildwuchs Fastmoker (average score: 4.53)

tastingresultatGerman Pils ranking from the combined group results from this tasting

Blind Tasting – Personal Results

My own results broadly aligned with the averages, but with a preference for the fresh maltier samples from breweries in Franken.

1a. Krug Pils (my score: 2,0)
1b. Debringer Pils (my score: 2,0)
3a. Gampert Förster-Pils (my score: 2,5)
3b. Hummel-Pils (my score: 2,5)
4. Schönramer Pils (my score: 3,5)
5a. Veltins Pils (my score: 4,0)
5b. Oettinger Pils (my score: 4,0)
7. Heidenpeters PILZ (my score: 4,5)
9. Wildwuchs Fastmoker (my score: 5,0)



The Good

The group results showed a strong preference from all participants for Gampert Förster-Pils, a deserving winner. This light, malty pils had less hop bitterness than most of the other samples and had a crisp finish.

My own four favourites were all brewed in small breweries in Franken. These pilsners tended towards the malty side, with the cereal malty component still present in the finished beer. These examples also tend to have more body and a balanced finish.

My overall favourite was Krug Pils. Of all nine beers sampled in the tasting, this one beer had a remarkable buttery note in the aroma – unmistakably from diacetyl. Although  experienced German palates will always write off diacetyl as an off-flavour in a bottom fermented beer, I enjoyed the complexity this brought to Krug Pils and look forward to trying this again.

The Bad

Technically well-brewed, the next three pilsners that took places 4, 5a and 5b, were all from  breweries with larger outputs – ranging from the (award-winning) modest Schönramer brewery (Bavaria) to the gigantic Veltins (Sauerland) and Oettinger (everywhere).

In the blind tasting, I ranked these (as-yet-unknown-to-me) beers lower due to their thin bodies, and flat, simple character.

I suspect that these beers all suffer from the bottling and pasteurisation process. From personal experience, I know that Schönramer – and to a much lesser extent Veltins can have an interesting hop aroma when poured from a fresh keg.

The Ugly

Pilsner is difficult to brew, as there is nowhere to hide the defects. Unfortunately, this beer style did show up two beers that were brewed by dedicated craftsmen, but that suffered from the risks that one sees in smaller breweries.

Both the Heidenpeters PILZ (Berlin) and the Wildwuchs Fastmoker (Hamburg) had noticeable flaws, that impacted their scores. Both were brewed in small batches by hand, with fresh malts and hops. Both were had significant hop aromas – likely from dry-hopping. Unfortunatley, but suffered during their time in the bottle, with both beers showing signs of sourness, in particular the Wildwuchs Fastmoker.

I have had the opportunity to try the Heidenpeter’s PILZ fresh from the keg at the brewery bar and can attest that the beer is an enjoyable modern spin on the pilsner. However, this sample from the bottled version was not the same beer.


Final words

Brewing a pils is not easy. Industrial brewers have spent decades attempting to make one beer style as cheaply as possible, measuring their market at every step of the way.

On the other end of the spectrum, new “craft” brewers should be encouraged for their bravery, particularly in a country where changing this staple beer style is frowned upon.

However – in my view – both extremes on this spectrum are still trumped by the smaller breweries around Franken, who take the time, chose the ingredients and rely on generations of experience to brew a fresher-tasting pils.