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11 June 2021

The 2021 European Beer Star

What’s new | The European Beer Star (EBS) has become one of the foremost international beer competitions within the two decades of its existence. BRAUWELT International has been a proud partner of the “global family” surrounding the competition since the very beginning and presents the new developments in the following article. Author Kilian Kittl, EBS Director, talks about what’s new, including new beer categories, the new logistics partner, moving to the new premises and launching the European Beer Star online shop.

There will be 71 categories in 2021, marking the first time there have been so many. However, it might be more precise to say, that there will be “70 plus” categories, because the new addition in 2021 – “free-style beer” – is profoundly different from the other 70. Square pegs, that is, unique creations that won’t fit into the round holes of the categories, will be recognized in the new category. Brewers who have taken the road less traveled will be able to find their way into this category. It is, therefore, only logical that no analytical restrictions on registration for “free-style beer” are required.

“Normal” is not true to “free-style”

The organizers of the European Beer Star even go so far as to stipulate that a beer registered as a “free-style beer” cannot fit into any of the existing categories. Should the jurors be able to clearly assign a product registered as a “free-style beer” to an existing category, then they are required to rule it as “not true to style”, and this means disqualification – the beer will not be judged in the competition. Kilian Kittl, Director of the European Beer Star, explains why this approach is necessary: “There should be no loophole for beers that a brewery does not want to register in their ‘true’ category. A Helles has to compete with Helles, a Witbier with Witbier, and so on. We only want really unusual, ‘distinctive’ beers in the ‘free-style beer’ category. For the first time, utterly outrageous creations will have the opportunity to win an award at the European Beer Star. This new category is intended to honor and, in fact, to stoke the fires of brewers’ imaginations.”

At the European Beer Star 2021, beers can compete in 70 categories plus special category free-style (Photo: Verband Private Brauereien/Volker Martin)

Fair warning: the jury is quite strict. And yet, in this unique category, the participants will have the opportunity to employ a special “instrument”: storytelling. If a brewer is able to sway the jurors into accepting that his/her beer is indeed one-of-a-kind through a description of the entry, the brewer has enhanced their chances of not only having the beer accepted into the “free-style” category but also of winning an award.

The history of the beer submitted can play a significant role in this as well. A challenging production practice may also be acknowledged. Breweries submitting their beers would be well advised to emphasize in plain terms any innovations or unique selling points regarding the beer. If a brewer can present what makes his/her beer “something special” in a convincing manner, this can earn him/her valuable points in the evaluation. Caution is, however, advised: being “a little different” will not suffice. At the end of the day, quality is the decisive factor in the “free-style beer” category. As with the other 70 categories, every award-winning beer must earn sought-after points in the judges’ assessment of its aroma, flavor, harmony and mouthfeel. These elements are complemented by a good story and a positive sensory evaluation, which form a holistic approach.

Categories keep pace with the times

The world of beer styles is in a constant state of flux. Accordingly, the competition portfolio of styles grows every year, and existing categories are also reviewed annually and adjusted, if need be. Categories 9, 43 and 69 were amended for the 2021 competition. They are described as follows:

Category 9: International-Style Lager

This category is reserved for those lagers brewed with adjuncts, enzymes or other internationally approved brewing aids.

Category 43: Strong Porter

The two beer styles Baltic-Style Porter and Imperial Porter have been combined in this group. As a result, both top-fermented and bottom-fermented strong porters can be submitted as entries in this category. Please do not confuse this with Imperial Stout, category 46, which has not been altered.

Category 69: New-Style Non-Alcoholic Beer

This category is intended to pay tribute to the growing market for non-alcoholic beers. Styles beyond non-alcoholic Helles and Weissbier have been brewed for a long time. The list of “typical” examples of this category is varied to say the least. Non-alcoholic hoppy lagers and dark lagers are also welcome in this category. There is also room for ales, sour beers or spiced beers – provided they are non-alcoholic.

An independent jury evaluates according to the beer style description and sensory criteria defined for the category (Photo: Verband Private Brauereien/Volker Martin)

New logistics partner

The owner-operated company Quehenberger Logistics has proven to be an excellent partner for the Verband Private Brauereien (the Association of Private Breweries, a group of independent brewers in Germany), the organizer of the European Beer Star. The Quehenberger head office is located in Straßwalchen near Salzburg, Austria, in the heart of Europe and very close to Doemens Academy, where the tasting is held. With 80 locations in Central and Eastern Europe and carefully selected partners around the world, Quehenberger Logistics possesses a highly effective infrastructure.

Nicole Mayrhofer is the contact person for all participants in the European Beer Star. Efforts will be made to the greatest extent possible to organize locations where shipments can be consolidated in the respective countries. All participants, particularly those from outside of Germany, are asked to get in touch with Nicole Mayrhofer, preferably already prior to registration, as she can provide support with shipping, customs clearance and delivery. She can be contacted for questions regarding logistics at .

Tasting at the “New Doemens” facility

In 2021, the tasting will once again be held at Doemens Academy. Conducted by a panel of experts for the European Beer Star, the official tasting begins on 4 November 2021 – this time at a new location.

The planning and preparation for the new building on the Lohenstraße in Gräfelfing is on schedule, with construction work slated for completion in August. Doemens will then move from the Stefanusstraße to the new Lohenstraße facility in September and October. For this reason, one must be careful when shipping beer entries for the competition. They should be sent to the new address: Doemens Academy, Lohenstraße 3, 82166 Gräfelfing.

Stefan Stang, Managing Director of Private Brauereien Bayern e. V., reflects on the organization’s fruitful and long-standing partnership with Doemens and is looking forward to the new space: “We hope that in 2021, our team of experts will again be international. The hygiene standards at the European Beer Star were excellent last autumn. In the new building, we will have larger rooms available and more of them. Therefore, it will be a little easier to provide for the safety of the judges and those assisting them.”

European Beer Star 2021: Important dates

European Beer Star online shop

Many of the beers submitted for the European Beer Star are only sold in their respective regions. For the first time this year, it will be possible to purchase these rarities in the European Beer Star online shop.

The shop is integrated into the “Online Marketplace for Breweries” at BeerTasting.com. Breweries with winning beers in their portfolio are able to take part in the marketplace. Breweries receive their own shop on the virtual town square, which they can design and manage themselves with their own corporate design. This gives breweries and their products additional exposure, both in the European Beer Star Online Shop and on the general marketplace, allowing them to reach a substantial number of new, potential customers.

Unfortunately, beer does not enjoy the “right to travel freely” within the EU. For this reason, the online shop is currently limited to Germany and Austria. Peter Reimann, operator and organizer of BeerTasting.com, hopes to soon be able to bring the shop to Italy, France and Switzerland. The following applies here as well: the earlier breweries signal their willingness to participate, the more quickly their winning beers can be offered on this platform.

The “Olympic Awards concept”

All of these news items only cover the year 2021; however, there are two important criteria that have made the European Beer Star special from the very beginning.

Only the best three beers in each category receive an award. Therefore, the gold, silver and bronze medals from the European Beer Star are a particularly coveted distinction. The EBS is markedly different from other competitions in which awards are much more freely bestowed upon participants, where one or even multiple gold medals are handed out in each category. Instead of just a “participation trophy”, a beer that wins a medal at the European Beer Star receives an extremely valuable and unique selling point. Moreover, the EBS has become well-respected and gained a great deal in significance internationally. It is analogous to the difference between simply becoming district champs or winning the Champions’ League.

International expert jury

Category information available online

The complete list and detailed category descriptions are available for perusal at www.european-beer-star.com. Besides their importance for the competition itself, the lists and descriptions of the categories for the European Beer Star can also be very useful for other purposes, such as for training catering staff, brewery personnel or those involved in other commercial enterprises.

Not just for Europe

The European Beer Star is so named because it was invented in Europe and still takes place there. Nevertheless, it is open to the whole world. Any commercial brewery from any country on any continent can submit their beers. The jury is – apart from during the pandemic – unequivocally international. In 2019, the judges were drawn from a pool of beer experts from all over the world – a heterogeneous group from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. But they do have one thing in common: they possess the best noses and palates for judging beer on earth.