State Fair Beer Judging

Beer waiting to be judged

State Fair Beer Judging

Updated with cancellation of California State Fair 2020 announcement.

Summer is my favorite season, without a doubt! Camping with friends, wineries to explore, long days to enjoy, local hikes, and warm days beg for cold beer. Every year, the California State Fair brings hundreds of thousands of people to Cal Expo in Sacramento. No Fair is complete without awards for the state’s best beer.

You Judge Beer?!

Judging beer is something I have been asked to be a part of for the California State Fair starting in 2016. Every year since, I have participated too. There are professional judges with all levels of certification who travel near and far to evaluate, judge, and provide feedback to all the entries from breweries across the Golden State. The appointed judges take the task very seriously.

Last year, the judging took place over 3 days, with the help of 35 volunteers and stewards, 70 certified beer judges. There are approximately 1,250 beer entries from California breweries across the state. For the commercial beer competition requirements, beers must be brewed in the state and available for sale.

And the Winners Are…

In 2019, the Best of Show was awarded to southern California brewery Angel City for their “California Common.” Brewery of Year went to Morgan Territory in Tracy, which won 4 first place awards. After the State Fair beer judging is complete, the winners attend a private ceremony to receive their awards. Then, during the Fair, there is a Best of the Best Beer Festival for the winners to showcase their award-winning beers. See the complete list of Commercial Beer Competition winners here.

Updated April 24, 2020:

An announcement declared on April 20, 2020, explains the 2020 event cancellation is due to Covid-19. This decision results in a a huge loss of revenue. All affected include the venue, the area, and the employees and vendors that depend on the fair. The 2018 State Fair brought in $16.5 million in revenue to Cal Expo. Or, 60% of its total revenue for the year. The CA State Fair Canceled for 2020 article from the Sacramento Business Journal has more details.

Meanwhile, I will have to keep practicing my skills while sheltering in place. My hope is that we can all judge again next year together. To the state’s breweries, keep brewing tasty beers in the meantime!

For more info:

Competition Photo Gallery

Official Press Release

In 2019, a new CA State Beer Competition arrived on the scene: the inaugural California Craft Brewers Cup Competition.

Or, do you prefer wine? September is CA Wine Month. Read about our love of grapes too!


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