5 Ways to Win Your Next Homebrew Competition

A medal from the GTA-Brews-run Brew Slam can be the push an amateur needs to join the pro ranks. Supplied photo

When entering any judged contest, it’s a great idea to scout the vibe of the competition and determine what might be the keys to your success. Here are five helpful hints from GTA Brews President Eric Cousineau that can help you win big.


If you’ve never entered a homebrew competition before, the rules can be complex. The best way to get a handle on them is to see them in action. A competition the size of Brew Slam is always in need of volunteers to help catalogue entries, steward and organize logistics. Not only will you get a sense of the competition but you’ll get to learn how the judges think.

Don’t Enter the Most Popular Categories

Everyone wants to make an IPA. People have spent years finding the right blend of hops and the best technique for creating that omnipresent super current #hazeboi. Meanwhile, there are only 11 entries in bock. If you want to win a medal, it might be best to improve your odds by choosing a less heavily contested category.

Leave a Little Mystery

Selling beer (whether as a product to a consumer, or as a concept to judges) is about expectation management. If you’re entering a specialty category that calls for descriptive language, keep it simple. Too much might bias the judges against you, especially if the beer in the bottle doesn’t live up to the hype.

Understand Off-Flavours

A straightforward understanding of the most common off-flavours in beer will allow you to assess your homebrew before you pay the entrance fee. It will prevent you from being disappointed by the results and allow you to make better beer in the long run.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

With 2,350 members, GTA Brews is the largest online homebrew club in Canada, and easy-going discussion is one of the hallmarks of the group. Whether you want to tweak your recipe or get a sense of what other members are doing, you’re going to find helpful, knowledgeable people who will assist in making you better.

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