Brew Slam 2018 – Wrap Up

Brew Slam is wrapped up for another year, and what a year it was! Most prizes were shipped out to our winners before the holidays, and I finally have time to write my annual wrap up post. With 826 entries judged, were were Canada’s largest homebrew competition again for 2018!

The judging and awards for Brew Slam happened back in November, but we’ve been hard at work since then working on all the wrap up tasks to be able to mark the competition complete for another year. Don’t stop reading now because some pretty amazing things happened this year that I want to share.

Competition Stats 2018:

  • Largest Canadian homebrew competition, ever!
    • 826 entries judged
    • 847 registered entries
    • 8/10 provinces, Yukon, CT/PA, and ISRAEL!
  • 191 participants with entries
  • 135 volunteers: 75 judges, 54 stewards, 22 sorters, 10 crew
    • Likely the most judges in any Canadian beer competition, ever!
  • 31 award categories
  • 7 judging sessions, avg 7.5 entries/pair per session
  • Over $16,000 in prizes!!

GTA Brews Participation:

349 GTA Brews entries
296 GTA Brews entries
42% of entries36% of entries
44% of medals26% of medals

Local Participation:

620 Ontario entries
586 Ontario entries
73% of entries71% of entries
76% of medals61% of medals

Improvements from 2017:

Every year we take the feedback we get and use it to make the next iteration of our competition better. Our goal is to make Brew Slam the best homebrew competition in the world, so every little improvement is valuable. Here are some of the changes we made to make 2018 our best year yet:

  • Introduced overall competition cap of 850 registered entries
    • Reduced per entrant cap to 12 entries
  • Added a new major award in honour of the late Jon Mains
    • Jon Mains Award for Top Brewer (most medal points)
  • Purchased dedicated plastic bins for bottle storage
  • Greatly improved crew training, and made identifying t-shirts
  • Greatly improved volunteer training
  • Streamlined mini-BOS stations
  • Prizes bagged in fancy metallic bags
  • Printed entry info stickers and further customized scoresheet template
  • Judge assignments all done in advance
  • Created a volunteer check in station for judging sessions
  • Carried over all the improvements made in 2017 as well

Brew Slam Committee

This competition wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work of everyone on the committee. Please join me in thanking them for their hard work to make this all happen.

Organizer: Eric Cousineau
Head Judge: Jesse Reynolds
Head Steward: Emily Storey
Cellar Master: Jim Bruce
Registrar: Clayton Hoy
Social Media: Mark Hubbard
Sponsorship: Mike Vandervoort, Rob Towle, James Kennedy
Floater: Berardino Alberico

Thank you Volunteers!

As usual, we had some incredible volunteers again this year. With 135 volunteers donating their time to help make this happen, we were fortunate to have tons of amazing people on board. Judges, you showed tremendous dedication and professionalism, there were tons of amazing scoresheets, thank you! Stewards, your tireless efforts to keep things moving was very much appreciated, thank you! Thank you to bottle sorters, I know the job was tedious, but you each played an instrumental role!

Special thank you to Mark Verok of Katalyst Brewing Company who spent dozens of hours handcrafting our custom barrel stave bottle openers!

Special thank you to Doug and Pietro of People's Pint Brewing Co, for donating our volunteer beer, which was a Prickly Pear Catharina Sour!

Thank You Sponsors!

Click Here to see our full list of Sponsors and Prizes

We have some pretty incredible sponsors that donated over $16,000 in prizes, so I want to take a moment to call them all out. Please support those that support Brew Slam by shopping with them, or buying their products! This list is long, but each one of them is key to making this competition as awesome as it is.

Title Sponsor

Platinum Sponsors

  • Amsterdam Brewery
  • Junction Craft Brewing
  • Henderson Brewing Company
  • Brew North
  • Everwood Ave Brew Shop
  • Highland Hop Yard
  • Brew HQ
  • The Grainfather
  • Five Star Chemicals
  • The Brew Bag
  • White Labs

Gold Sponsors

  • BSG Canada
  • Home Brew Culture
  • Craft Meister National Chemicals Inc.
  • Beer Grains Supply Co.
  • Escarpment Laboratories
  • Katalyst Brewing Company
  • Rainhard Brewing Co.
  • Folly Brewpub
  • People’s Pint Brewing Company

Silver Sponsors

  • Spike Brewing
  • Blichmann Engineering
  • Barn Owl Malt
  • Tavistock Hop Co.
  • Hops Connect
  • Muddy York Brewing Co.
  • Rhythm & Brews
  • Little Beasts
  • Great Lakes Brewing
  • Rouge River
  • Silly Sir Brewing Company
  • Cowbell
  • Overhop

Bronze Sponsors

  • BeerSmith
  • Hopback Homebrewing Supplies
  • Wyeast
  • Left Field Brewing
  • Burdock
  • Rorschach Brewing
  • Bellwoods
  • Indie Alehouse
  • Black Oak
  • Mosaic City Brewing
  • Northern Maverick
  • Sawdust City Brewing Co
  • Pommies Cider Co.

Big Winners

Congratulations to the all the winners of Brew Slam 2018! There were some absolutely fantastic beers that didn’t even win medals this year, so winning a medal is truly a testament to the quality of your homebrew.

Best of Show

Awarded to the single best beer entry, as determined in a final judging round with the best beers from the whole competition.

Pl.Brewer(s)Entry NameStyleClub
1st Chris Potts In The Fields 23B: Flanders Red Ale CASK
2nd Mike Vandervoort
Mains Lager 1B: American Lager
GTA Brews
3rd Trevor Armstrong
Not Just Anyipa
21B7: New England IPA
HMStephen RodermondWee One11A: Ordinary Bitter

Toronto Brewer of the Year

This award is given to the GTA Brews member with the most medal points in the competition. This year’s winner was Mike Vandervoort, for the 2nd year in a row!

TBOY Winner Mike Vandervoort (center) with runners up Eric Cousineau (right) and Steve Bryson (left)

Jon Mains Award for Top Brewer

Awarded to the top overall entrant with the highest medal point count from beer categories. This award is new this year to honour of the memory of our friend Jon Mains. The winner of the 1st ever Jon Mains Award for Top Brewer was Alex Cochran, congrats!

Henderson Cup

The Henderson Cup is an award sponsored by Henderson Brewing Company. The top 10 GTA Brews entries from the competition are invited to re-submit a bottle to be judged by the staff at Henderson. The brewer of the winning entry got $1000 and gets to brew their beer on the big system for one of the Ides of February beer release. This year’s winner was Marcelo Paniza!

Closing Thoughts

We started Brew Slam in 2015 with the goal of giving Toronto an awesome homebrew competition, with visibility on the national BOTY circuit. Now our homebrew competition is the largest in the country for two years running, and receives some ridiculously high quality homebrew. I had the pleasure of tasting along during BOS judging this year, and was blown away by world class quality.

Every year we strive to improve the competition, by applying as much of the learning and feedback as we can. Every single aspect of our judging process is always open for critique; if there’s a better way do something we try to adopt it. I'm very proud of how efficient and robust our judging process has become, and I'm always looking to spread what we have learned to other competitions.

2018 was a special year for me, since my daughter was due to be born on Nov 14th, only 3 days after judging was scheduled to conclude. The rest of the Crew were incredibly understanding and helped put redundancy into place, in case I was called away in the middle of the judging weekend. Lucky for us all, she didn't come early, and my daughter Ivy was born on Nov 19th. Everyone is doing fantastic, and my family is adjusting well.

I’m very grateful to everyone that helped make this competition what it is today. We are lucky to have a very capable Crew, several of whom have dedicated several years to their roles. We're always searching for new Crew members that are looking to make an impact, please let me know if you are interested! We have our work cut out for us to make 2019 even better, but we’ll find a way. See you all at Brew Slam 2019!

Eric Cousineau
Organizer, Brew Slam 2018

Bonus Pictures