The Pro/ Am Brew Challenge is a homebrew and commercial beer, mead and cider competition where trained BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judges sample and critique the entries. Judges use set of standards (The 2015 BJCP standards) to compare entries against, as a way to fairly judge all entries against each other. Homebrew and commercial beers are giving to judges blind with no labels, marks or identifiers, just liquid in a clear plastic cup. They complete a one page score sheet giving comments and feedback about the brew and brewing processes used. Entrants receive scanned score sheets via e-mail and later the original copies in the mail. These score sheets can be very valuable at improving a brew and the brewers process. The top three scoring beers win medals in each category (or combined categories) and the best three beers of the entire event are deemed the BEST OF SHOW and are award some of the top prizes and honors.
The Pro/ Am Brew Challenge was started in 2013 after many requests from members of the Winnipeg Brew Bombers to hold a national homebrew competition in Winnipeg. The competition steering committee decided that they wanted to do something different from the rest of the homebrew competitions in Canada. They decided that they wanted to bring a new level of communication and correspondence to the homebreweing community, set a new standard for treatment of valued BJCP judges and offer something that no other homebrew competition in Canada was doing, a chance for homebrewers to have their beers judged along side the pros by holding Canada’s first Professional/ Amateur Brew Competition. And with an immense amount of support from Half Pints Brewing Company, David Phillips, a member of the Winnipeg Brew Bombers and founder of the competition, an amazing and hard working competition planning committee set out to do just that.
After some discussions with Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, it was determined that a homebrew competition would be illegal to hold at a public venue and so the very first Pro/ Am Brew Challenge was held in a small Quonset on a Winnipeg Brew Bombers residential property near St. Andrews Manitoba. In it’s first year the Pro/ Am Brew Challenge received over 400 entries from all across Canada with about 15% of those being “Pro” or commercial entries. Over the next year, David worked tireless with Manitoba Liquor and Lottery staff to write new rules and regulations for Homebrew competitions in Manitoba and by 2014 the MBLL gave their full support to the event and granted the Pro/ Am Brew Challenge a permit to allow the competition to be held in a public venue, the first of it’s kind in Manitoba.
In 2015 Manitoba Liquor Marts agreed to sponsor the competition and offered distribution to the three highest scoring commercial entries. Not only did the competition gain the support of advertising in Manitoba Liquor Marts, but this also meant an increase in commercial entries as commercial brewers from outside Manitoba were anxious to compete for distribution within the province.
The competition continues to grow and with the continued sponsorship and support of Half Pints Brewing Company, the MBLL and many other sponsors, the 2016 Pro/ Am Brew Challenge is set to be the biggest and best year yet.