Brew Slam 2019 – Wrap Up

Brew Slam is wrapped up for another year, and what a year it was! All prizes were shipped out to our winners before the holidays, and I finally have time to write my annual wrap up post. With 819 entries judged, we were Canada’s largest homebrew competition again in 2019!

Saturday Afternoon: 49 BJCP judges seated in ONE session!

Competition Stats 2019:

  • Largest Canadian homebrew competition of the year!
    • 819 entries judged
    • 850 paid entries
    • 880 registered entries
    • 9/10 provinces, NY
      • Missing PEI still!
  • 281 participants with entries
    • A new record!
  • 134 volunteers: 77 judges, 52 stewards, 24 sorters, 14 crew
    • Most BJCP judges in any Canadian beer competition, ever!
  • 32 award categories
  • 7 judging sessions, avg 6.7 entries/pair per session
  • Over $23,800 in sponsored prizes and volunteer perks

Entries per Entrant


Score Analysis


Most Popular Award Categories

Award Category NameNumber of EntriesBJCP Styles Included
Standard IPA6321A, 21B7 (New England IPA)
Sour Beer4723A, 23B, 23C, 23D, 23E, 27A1 (Gose), 28B

Least Popular Award Categories

Award Category NameNumber of EntriesBJCP Styles Included
Bock134C, 6C, 9A, 9B
Light Lager141A, 1B, 2A, 5A

GTA Brews Participation:

338 GTA Brews entries349 GTA Brews entries
38% of entries42% of entries
36% of medals44% of medals

Local Participation:

628 Ontario entries
620 Ontario entries
71% of entries73% of entries
71% of medals76% of medals

Improvements from 2018:

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 2019 our best year yet:

  • Added staggered per-entrant cap to ensure a full week before reaching overall cap
    • Initial cap of 2 entries/person for 1st week
  • Reduced per entrant cap to 6 entries
  • Increased entry fee to $10
    • Went directly to providing a better volunteer experience
  • Changed the total cap to paid entries, rather than registered entries
  • Brought the food up to a whole new level with our friends at Rosedale's Finest
    • The build your own taco bar blew me away!
  • Introduced "speed dating" style judging so that all judges got a chance to judge with our special guest; John Palmer
  • Very successful judging weekend events
    • Palmer Welcome Party at MYBC on the Thursday before judging
    • Brew Slam Social at Granite on Saturday evening after judging
  • New BOS format that introduced voting to help nail down the best beers faster
  • Improved the formatting of the results posts to include stats and sponsors
  • CEP points for the Saturday educational presentation
  • Prize pack values tallied to ensure fair allocations
  • Improved awards livecast quality
  • Improved draft beer logistics for award ceremony
  • Award ceremony photos posted for each winner
  • Commemorative shirts and glasses for volunteers, also available to entrants at the awards party
  • Carried over all the improvements from past years

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, Bear Alberico (Asst)
Head Judge: Jesse Reynolds
Head Steward: Emily Storey
Cellar Master: Jim Bruce, Kim Watts (Asst)
Registrar: Clayton Hoy
Social Media: Mark Hubbard
Sponsorship: Rob Towle (Lead), Colin Green, Marcelo Paniza, Darrell Kelly, David Chang-Sang
Branding: James Kennedy

Thank you Volunteers!

As usual, we had some incredible volunteers again this year. With 134 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 Pietro and Doug from People's Pint Brewing Co, for donating our volunteer beer, which was a El Chupa-cocoa-cabra, a porter with cinnamon, ancho peppers and of course loads of cocoa!

Thank You Sponsors!

Click Here to see our full list of Sponsors and Prizes

We had some pretty incredible sponsors that donated over $23,800 in prizes and volunteer perks, 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

Title Sponsor and Master of Ceremonies - Zack Weinberg of Toronto Brewing

Platinum Sponsors

Amsterdam Brewery

Junction Craft Brewing

Henderson Brewing Company

Escarpment Laboratories

Brew HQ

People's Pint Brewing Co

The Brew Bag

Highland Hop Yard

The Homebrew Beer Academy

Home Brew Culture

BSG Canada

Gold Sponsors

  • Everwood Ave Brew Shop
  • Nordic Brew Centre
  • Beer Grains Supply Co.
  • Tavistock Hop Co
  • Blichmann Engineering
  • Hops Connect
  • Craftmeister / National Chemicals Inc
  • White Labs
  • Lentequip
  • Five Star Chemicals & Supply
  • Folly Brewpub
  • Granite Brewery
  • Rainhard Brewing Co.

Silver Sponsors

  • Grainfather
  • Spike Brewing
  • Barn Owl Malt
  • JaDeD Brewing
  • Hopback Homebrewing Supplies
  • Muddy York Brewing Co
  • Rouge River Brewing Co
  • Silly Sir Brewing Co
  • Cowbell Brewery
  • Rorschach Brewing Co
  • Caledon Hills Brewing Co
  • Backed By Bees

Bronze Sponsors

  • Wyeast
  • Lallemand
  • Imperial Organic Yeast
  • Beersmith
  • Grog Tag
  • American Homebrewers Association
  • Left Field Brewing
  • Rhythm & Brews
  • Little Beasts Brewing Co
  • Burdock
  • Great Lakes Brewing Co
  • Bellwoods
  • Indie Alehouse
  • Overhop
  • Paniza Brewing Co
  • 5 Paddles Brewing Co
  • Beau's Brewing Co
  • Society of Beer Drinking Ladies
  • Pommies Cider Co
  • KW Craft Cider

Big Winners

Congratulations to the all the winners of Brew Slam 2019! 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
1stAlex CochranLeichtdays5A: German Leichtbier VanBrewers
2ndFrank Schneidawind Camarade Soleil23F: Fruit LambicMontreAlers
3rdTrevor ArmstrongNot A Smoked Beer6A: MarzenDurham Homebrewers Club
HMEric SalbBeware The Alcoves25A: Belgian Blond Ale GTA Brews

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 Nick Hodowsky!

Toronto Brewer of the Year (TBOY) Nick Hodowsky (center) with runners up Iain Robertson (left) and Brian Marmoreo (center-left)

Jon Mains Award for Top Brewer

Awarded to the top overall entrant with the highest medal point count from beer categories. This award honours the memory of our friend Jon Mains. The winner of the 2019 Jon Mains Award for Top Brewer was Nick Hodowsky!

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 (Feb 14th, 2020). This year’s winner was Chris Hughes!

Closing Thoughts

When I wrote last year's wrap up post, I was convinced that it was impossible to top what we did in Brew Slam 2018. I'm pleased to have been wrong because I can safely say that Brew Slam 2019 succeeded in taking our competition to the next level once again!

It had been a longtime goal of ours to host John Palmer as our special guest and I'm so happy that it happened this year, on our 5th anniversary as a homebrew competition! John spent 5 days in Toronto and we showed him a wonderful time. A highlight was the golden hockey stick throne that Palmer sat on all weekend to judge.

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 next year even better, but we’ll find a way. See you all at Brew Slam 2020!

Eric Cousineau
Organizer, Brew Slam 2019

Bonus Pictures