Award Criteria & Judging

Awards Philosophy

The World Beer Cup recognizes brewing excellence in more than 100 categories but does not automatically award the top three entries in a particular category. When judges determine that a category contains three excellent examples of the style, they present gold, silver, and bronze awards for the first, second, and third place beers, respectively.

Judges may choose not to designate any awards in a category if all beers entered in that category are significantly out of style or have major defects. The Competition Director will cancel judging in any one category if fewer than three entries are received.

Also, judges may grant an award in any one or more of the three award places without granting awards in all three places. For example, judges may recognize a beer as a silver or bronze award winner; yet not grant a gold award.

What makes a beer worthy of a gold, silver or bronze award?

“Evaluating beer happens on many levels. On a professional level, beer evaluation is a form of peer review. The results are public, so consumers can learn what beers meet a high level of quality and what beers exemplify certain styles as interpreted by the judges. When industry professionals acknowledge the excellence in products from around the market, the consumer can be sure that those products are the finest available.”

— Chris Williams, Competition Director

image of awards

Minimum Standard for Awards

GOLD A world class beer that accurately exemplifies the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.
SILVER An excellent beer that may vary slightly from style parameters while maintaining close adherence to the style and displaying excellent taste, aroma, and appearance.
BRONZE A fine example of the style that may vary slightly from style parameters and/or have minor defects in taste, aroma, or appearance.

Effective in 2018, the World Beer Cup will no longer award Champion Brewery awards. With the continued growth of the competition, this change allows us to focus all of our judging and staff resources on a flawless execution of the core awards—gold, silver and bronze across more than 100 different style categories.


Judge Selection

man judging beers at world beer cup

The World Beer Cup Competition Manager selects judges from a list of internationally recognized brewers, consultants, industry suppliers and writers. These individuals have been selected on the basis of: (1) formal beer sensory training; (2) ongoing beer sensory experience; (3) industry and peer recognition; (4) knowledge of beer styles and the brewing process; and (5) judging demeanor.

Prospective judges must communicate in fluent written and verbal English, must have formal sensory training, and must participate in regular flavor panels or competitions.

Each World Beer Cup judge panel includes ~10-12% judges newly introduced to the panel. Interested persons wishing to be considered as World Beer Cup judge panel candidates should send by email a request to Competition Director Chris Williams. Candidates will be directed to submit an application online; such application information will include brewing industry vita or résumé with an emphasis on formal beer sensory training and ongoing sensory experience, and three letters of recommendation (all in English). New judges are seated in order of application completion and acceptance.

Judge Procedures

World Beer Cup judging takes place just prior to the Brewers Association Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America®.

Judges are assigned by the Competition Manager to judge beers in their specific area of expertise and do not judge in every category. Judges will seldom taste more than 30 beers in any one judging session and judges never evaluate their own product or any product in which they have a concern (a consultant cannot judge the beer of a client). Judging is blind, with no brand knowledge of any kind provided to judges. Beer entries are judged solely on their merits.

Judges perform several important roles at the World Beer Cup. Judges determine winning beer entries that meet the stringent award criteria described above. They are also expected to provide concise, accurate written feedback to entering breweries about their entries, describing positive product attributes as well as defects noted during the competition. This indirect communication to entering breweries adds value to their World Beer Cup entries and provides a glimpse into the judging process.