The first-ever USA Beer Ratings will take place in San Francisco, Calif., on July 23-24, 2018. The event is noteworthy for introducing entirely new criteria for judging the best beers in the world. In contrast to traditional beer scoring systems that focus only on taste, the new scoring system of the USA Beer Ratings will consider three different criteria: Quality, Value and Packaging.
One goal of the new USA Beer Ratings is to highlight the beers of particular value to the average beer drinker. While the quality of the beer is obviously of greatest importance, other factors – such as how a beer looks on a shelf, the overall design and presentation of the beer (including the label), and the relative value that a beer provides within a price category – also play a very important role in the whole beer drinking experience.
The introduction of new scoring criteria is particularly important, given the huge growth in popularity of the craft beer industry. Potentially, consumers have the option of hundreds of new beers every time they enter a retail store or supermarket to purchase beer.
Organizing the event is Beverage Trade Network (BTN), which is spearheading a major new drinks initiative to spotlight new criteria for buying wine, beer and spirits. Beverage Trade Network recently hosted a similar event in London called the London Beer Competition, which resulted in significant new discussions about what makes a great beer.
According to Sid Patel, Founder and CEO of Beverage Trade Network, the choice of bringing the competition to San Francisco after London is part of a broader strategy to change the thinking within the beer industry, especially among commercial buyers.
Judging criteria for the USA Beer Ratings
For a beer to receive a high overall score, it will need to perform well according to three major criteria:
It was initially a difficult decision, says Patel, about which judging criteria to use. Quality obviously needed to be a part of the equation, he says. But there also needed to be a way to consider the way a beer looks on the shelf. After all, consumers are becoming more and more sophisticated about branding and the narratives that surround new craft beers and breweries. It’s no longer enough just to create a beer that tastes good, you also need a beer that is packaged and designed to appeal to the consumer.
“It’s challenging for many consumers to decide what to buy,” says Patel. “We wanted to make the job easier for them. A beer that wins an award in San Francisco can be considered best in class.”
Scoring system for the USA Beer Ratings
A specific weighting for each of these three judging criteria will result in a final score. It is on the basis of the final score that a beer will be eligible for a Gold, Silver or Bronze prize. The weighting of the judging criteria is as follows:
• Quality: A score between 0 and 50
• Value: A score between 0 and 25
• Packaging: A score between 0 and 25
Q (Quality Score) + Value Score (V) + Packaging Score (P) = USA Beer Ratings Score
As can be seen here, Quality will be responsible for determining 50% of a beer’s final score. However, simply scoring the maximum number of points within this category will not be enough to win an overall Gold, Silver or Bronze award. The scoring system for these awards is as follows:
• Gold: A score of 90+
• Silver: A score of 80 to 89
• Bronze: A score of 70 to 79
According to Patel, this scoring system proved to be a big success at the London Beer Competition. It was particularly successful at surfacing new beers that provided relative value to consumers.
The panel of judges will include top-level buyers with current direct commercial buying responsibility. The list of judges will be drawn from leading retail chains, wholesalers, distributors and on-trade groups across a variety of channels and disciplines.
- Early Bird Registration: Ends May 31, 2018
- Warehouse closes for samples: July 15, 2018
- Judging: July 23-24, 2018
- Winners announced: August 15, 2018
- $90 ends May 31, 2018
- $120 from June 1 to June 15, 2018
- $140 from June 16 to July 10, 2018