Cider Competition Tips

Recently, I joined 70+ judges for the 13th annual Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Over 1,334 commercial and non-commercial ciders were submitted, and I had the opportunity to sample and judge 60 ciders and perries. The results for the competition were announced on Friday, May 25. I am overjoyed to announce that the two ciders I entered took home silver! “10:10” is made with New York State hops by Hop Brothers. “Baes Knees” is inspired by my love for gin cocktails.

Although I have been making cider for awhile now, GLINTCAP was the first cider competition that I judged. These cidermakers spent countless hours to perfect their best cider recipe and rely on trained judges, like myself, to analyze their cider, provide feedback, and hopefully win a medal.  While I met so many incredible cidermakers and judges from around the world, I picked up on a few tips along the way:

Participants

  • Enter as many ciders as you can. GLINTCAP was also my first competition entering cider, and my only regret is I submitted only two  ciders despite having many more at home. Solid feedback is essential for growing as a cidermaker, so don’t be shy!
  • Fill your cans/bottles carefully and label them according to the style guidelines. If your ciders do not fall into the criteria that you’ve entered it in, your mistake may affect the way the judges score your entries.
  • Be sure to package your ciders thoroughly so they arrive safely. Bubble wrap, baggies, and newspapers are your friend when shipping them to the competition.

Judges

  • Familiarize yourself with the style guidelines pertaining specifically to the competition. For example, the style guidelines for GLINTCAP is slightly different from the guidelines published by the United States Association for Cider Makers. When in doubt, reach out directly to the competition committee or a fellow Beer Judge Certification Program Judge / Certified Cider Professional.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Prior to GLINTCAP, I conducted my blind test with ciders and filled out scoresheets/tasting notes to prepare. I recommend BJCP’s Cider Scoresheet or BJCP’s Beer Scoresheet, especially since they have detailed descriptors (including off-flavors).

Participating in GLINTCAP encouraged me to set the bar higher for my own cidermaking and opened up my eyes to styles I thought I could never enjoy. Congratulations to all of the cidermakers for entering their ciders!

Author: thebrewbabe

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