Beoir performed the judging at the 2018 Cask and Strange Brew Festival in Cork which takes place at the Franciscan Well each year. The judging was performed on Saturday, January 27th between 1pm and 5:30pm and 30 beers were judged in total on the day. I should say that not every beer at the festival could be judged, only those that were available to judges on Saturday during the judging period. Most beers that were running out on Thursday and Friday were bottled for judging but some were missed. Likewise, a few beers were not tapped until after judging was complete but overall, these winners represent the best beers available on the day.
We also had some audience interaction this year. I performed a talk on how to judge beer to seven audience members. Six of these stuck around to help judge the Strange Brews category. The strange brews category included everything in the specialty category and also any kegged beer that was on. They judged the available beers at that time which totaled five out of the eight beers entered in that category. I'm happy to report that our fledgling judges managed to pick the same top three beers as our experienced judges up until this point.
So now to the results. The overall top three beers were announced on Twitter that evening.
Category Winners 2018
- Stout / Porter - Brehon – Shanco Dubh Porter & YellowBelly Dark Abbey
- Pale Ale / Lager - White Hag – Bran & Sceolan IPA & Yellowbelly - Citra Pale
- Dark Ales - Barrelhead – Amber
- Specialty - West Kerry – Barrel Aged Winter Ale
- Strange Brews - West Kerry – Barrel Aged Winter Ale & 9 White Deer - Mexican Imperial Stout
The act of including the kegged beers in the competition led to an interesting result. Only two kegged beers were entered and because there were a number of joint places, 8 beers ended up in the final instead of 5, one of which was kegged.
- 9 White Deer - Mexican Imperial Stout (keg)
- White Hag – Bran & Sceolan IPA
- Yellowbelly - Citra Pale
It's worth saying that even though the winning beer was actually served from a keg instead of a cask, I think the judges agree that it probably would have won if it were served on cask anyway. In fact, it would likely be even better on cask.
The beer is simply stunning and 9 White Deer deserve all the credit for brewing it. It's officially called Imperial Stag and it's a whopping 13.5% beer that was brewed as a 75 litre pilot batch. I think it's safe to say that this will now be scaled up to a full size batch. You can read more about the beer here.