It's everyone's dream job, being a beer judge. What could be better than sitting around, being brought beers all day, and asked to drink and pass opinion on them?
I took the pic on the left at the final round of the 2008 International Beer Challenge. I haven't judged a beer competition for a couple of years, and should really get back into the swing of it. Unfortunately, I'm missing the IBC again this year, as I'm going to be on holiday next week - I plan to drink a lot of Cruzcampo and eat lots of jamon and seafood in Chipiona, on the Atlantic coast of south western Spain. I'd have liked to have judged the IBC last year, but couldn't come to an agreement with last years organisers over expenses. Yes, I had the temerity to suggest that I should be paid for spending two days and an overnight stay in London, and when their offer just about matched my expenses, I still thought that wasn't good enough*. Inexplicably, the judging went ahead without me, and stranger still, they seemed to come to a sensible set of conclusions.
I've also received an invite to judge the World Beer Awards at the NEC on June 18th, held at Tasting Beers Live. That's one that I should take up, although again, there is no provision to cover expenses. Maybe I'll be there anyway - I should at least go along to see Stuart Howe's 52 Beers Roadshow - but there's still a bit of me that thinks I should be carried from my house to the NEC in a sedan chair, or at the very least get a rail ticket thrown in.
This might sound as though I've got a really high opinion of myself, and feel as though I'm owed a beer-drinking living. Maybe there's a bit of that in it. Maybe it doesn't matter who judges beer competitions. I haven't taken the Beer Judge Certification Program exams, and am a bit bemused by the number of categories they squeezed in this year, so perhaps I shouldn't complain. Maybe beer competitions in the UK should be judged by whoever can make it that day and do it for nothing.
But equally, if you were a brewer paying to enter your beers in a competition, who would you like to see judging it? Or like any right-thinking person, perhaps you think I should stop moaning and just suck down a few free cold ones?
*FOOTNOTE: The IBC has changed organisers this year, and I'm told things are very different.