Stewarding a beer competition

18 August 2018

Volunteer, learn about brewing and drink great beer?! Steward a beer competition and get involved!

Advice for Stewarding Beer Competitions:

After stewarding my first beer competition I thought I’d write some advice to other newbies!

Why volunteer to steward?

  • Learn a lot about beer: from acquiring new vocabulary, to identifying flavours, and understanding what makes a style unique, judges are usually thrilled to share their vast knowledge
  • Drink good beer: Most of the time the tasting only consume half the beer, once the judges are done, they are generally happy to share, and will excitedly let you know the noteworthy entries (This goes both ways: I stewarded for a prankster who loved to inflict the terrible beers on people too. I quickly learned to check the score sheet before taking a sample!)
  • Be part of the community: Even if competitions are not your thing, stewarding is a good way to get involved in your local beer community! In this case the competition was also a fundraiser- volunteering was a fun way to participate and help out!

Key Points:

  • Head Steward knows all: the adage “If you want something done, ask the busy person” is true, the head steward is probably trying to do everything, and knows everything.
  • Ask questions: every competition is a little different
  • Listen as much as you can- judges are experts with lots of information to share.
The hustle and bustle of the competition
The hustle and bustle of the competition

Key tasks:

  1. Gather beer:
    • There will usually be some kind of flight-list tracking the entry number and beer type o Judges may have a preferred serving order, or go by numerical entry
    • Minimize jostling when getting beer from refrigerated area to judges
    • DON’T open the beer (unless asked): Judges often prefer to open and pour beer themselves
  2. Score Sheets and Paperwork:
    • There will be a coversheet for each entry, you may be responsible for managing this
    • Gathering the individual sheets, double checking the math, running paperwork etc. will be an important part of the job
    • Bring a calculator (or make sure you have enough phone battery). As one of the judges I stewarded for joked “Checking the math will be more important after the 3rd or 4th entry” (I was helping with the barley wine category)
  3. Clear beer/glasses etc:
    • Once judges are done, clear empty glasses
    • Add clean glasses to the table if running low
    • Let the head steward (or other knowledgeable person) know if glasses start to run low- freshly washed and dried glasses may take a while to cool down
    • Remove bottles from table
    • There may be a system for putting particularly good samples somewhere for others to try
  4. Other helpful running around:
    • The specifics may vary depending on the competition, but could include grabbing water for judges, crackers, dumping buckets etc.