Which one is it? Thankfully many festivals are both. They’re located in a country of origin AND they recruit judges from other places to provide a varied and therefore widely competent panel.
Judging is such a final word. So striving for a balance of opinions, morals, preferences, knowledge, thoughts, and agendas is really critical to get a equilibrium in any judging situation. We’re still human and we still let our own thoughts come through, however obvious or subtle they may manifest.
The GABF is one example of a well balanced judging of the beers. It is after all a competition. The 2011 GABF estimated that 4000 beers would be judged by 170+ judges from all over the globe. 400 beers! Whew! Being well acquainted with some of the judges I can share that it’s truly a dedicated and challenging endeavor. It goes way beyond what they think about what is in the glass. Partially because they have to reach consensus all the way around for a beer to advance. So this process also involves diplomacy, articulation and professional decorum.
They also added new judging categories this year:
- Fruit Wheat Beer
- Chocolate Beer
- American-style Brett Ale (interesting – no lagers per Brett?)
- International-style pale Ale
Local festival, international judges. That’s how you host an International National Festival. I say cheers to that!