Testing a Brew


Standards used by the 
Inter Kingdom Brewers Guild


Created 29 July 2006

There are a great many questions about the judging standards used by IKBG during competitions, and what is required in each area. This page is meant to answer some of the more common questions.

What is meant by "Documentation"?
Documentation covers what you did to create your beverage, which includes the recipe and the process/procedure. This information helps immensely in the judging because it allows the judges to critique and provide feedback on things that can improve the product. This may be minor tweaks to the hops, malt, spices, or flavorings, or may be some significant changes in the process and procedure being used. Not every brewer can stay for the competition, and even if they do stay and explain everything they used and did, the judges like to refer back to the information as they are evaluating various aspects of the product.

Why don't I have to create documentation like the type that is normally used in SCA A&S competitions?
IKBG competitions are NOT and have NOT EVER tried to be an "A&S" competition.  The IKBG is not interested in trying to match, replace, or supplant any kingdom's A&S competition. The IKBG is primarily about whether the brewer can make a quality beverage.  The SCA, in all the various A&S competitions, is focused on "period" stuff. However, this also means that a brewer who "experiments" or is "creative" with the ingredients and/or processes is usually penalized in their score. The IKBG, being focused on the product's "drinkability", provides a place for a brewer to have their beverages evaluated by other brewers that are focused on the product, rather than the documentation and "authenticity" of the beverage. This provides a complementary aspect to the normal judging that happens in an A&S competition. Again, it is not intended to replace, supplant, or even match any A&S competition.

A&S competitions are primarily interested in the authenticity of recipes, processes, tools & techniques, and ingredients. The IKBG isn't. Not really. Yes, it can make the final difference between an 8 or 9 in documentation and a 10, but it doesn't make up the bulk of the documentation score. Additionally, documentation doesn't make up truly significant portion of the overall score for the beverage.

So you are telling me that I don't have to create a "period" beverage?
The simple answer to this very astute question is "Yes, you are correct. It is possible (however unlikely) to get 98 or 99 out of 100 for a completely non-period beverage." 


What is meant by "Presentation"?
Presentation is exactly that... how is the products "presented" at the competition.  Presentation has several aspects to it.
    - Information on the label
    - Proper fill
    - Appropriate bottle
    - Appropriate cap

Maybe it is too easy to get 10 points for presentation and we might consider changing the percentages, but it has worked pretty well so far. We have seen the following problems.

  1. Information on the Label: Because the competition lasts several hours (in PA in August) some bottles are cooled/iced because you don't know when in the competition a particular entry will be judged, so your beer/wine/cordial may sit around for 3 or 4 hours in the afternoon heat. Labels that either fall off the bottle (in a cooler of several bottles) or have the ink run/smear make it very hard to identify what the heck is being judged. Sometimes the writing on the entry form isn't clear, or there is a stack of forms that have been left with a cooler (because the person has other conflicts in their schedule and can't hang around). Even labels with names like "Lord Brewsalot's Ale" or "Dementer's Kiss Cordial" don't tell the judges anything about what is inside the bottle. Are we judging a nut brown ale or an IPA? Is it a pilsener or a kölsch? what kind of wine/mead/cordial is it? Labels don't have to be fancy graphics or snazzy designs, but they do need to include information on specifically what is inside (meaning a description of the beverage in common terms rather than a fancy/irrelevant 'name')  and who brewed it.
  2. Proper fill: Sometimes bottles have no carbonation/head because they are over filled or under filled. There is a proper amount of liquid in the bottle and this reduces oxidization, and yet provides the right amount of space for carbonation to develop (for beers or sparkling wines/meads). There is also a proper amount of liquid in a bottle, even if it is just a cordial. We really don't want to be judging the last quarter bottle of the cordial your friends were drinking last night. We prefer the simple common courtesy that you think the IKBG competition is important enough to bring a "good bottle" (just as you would do if gifting a friend or the local baron or baroness with it).
  3. Appropriate bottle: We gotten all sorts of bottles for all sorts of entries. Yes, a keg would be ideal, and if you want to bring the keg to the competition then we are happy with that. But, since we realize it is a competition and you only need to bring one bottle's worth of liquid, a bottle is fine. We aren't trying to get picky about medieval containers, but we don't want wine or cordial in a Grolsch bottle, or mead in a cordial bottle, or beer in a plastic soda bottle. There are beer bottles for beer (and they should be brown glass to prevent becoming sunstruck). There are appropriate bottles for wine or mead. Various colours of glass are cool for wines and meads, but most any glass bottle that gets a cork is appropriate. Cordials should also come in an appropriate bottle.  Quart or liter size bottles for cordials really aren't right.
  4. Appropriate cap: We have also seen a wide variety of caps. Twist off beer caps don't make it. Screw off soda bottle caps don't make it. Screw off caps of any kind don't make it. Pull out corks on beer bottles don't make it. (wired down mushroom shaped corks in appropriate bottles for the appropriate type of beer/wine/mead are fine.) Just like there are appropriate bottles, there are appropriate caps.

We aren't trying to be overly hard or nit-picky, but if you aren't proud enough of your beverage to present it appropriately, then you will lose a few points.

I have a question that isn't answered here.  How do I find out that information?
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