Posted in Beer Culture

A Q&A with the Brussels Beer Challenge

I’m Belgian… and somewhat proud. But when it comes to my beer heritage, I’m super proud! (You may have figured that out already).

Since I won’t be back in Belgium for several months, I had to sit down with Brussels Beer Challenge (BBC) co-founder and Director Luc De Raedemaeker virtually. I have to be honest with you guys, I wasn’t super familiar with this challenge until I read about it online, but it kind of makes sense. I left Belgium and moved to the US in 2005 and this challenge was founded in  2012. This year’s event will be held in Mons, Belgium from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3, and registration and submissions start July 1! But I’ll let Luc get into the details…

Luc, who are you?

Brussels Beer Challenge
BBC Co-founders Luc De Raedemaeker (left) and Thomas Costenoble (right) at BBC 2018 day 3 – photo by Bart Van der Perre, courtesy of BBC

I’m the co-founder of the Brussels Beer Challenge and co-owner of Becomev which organizes the Dutch Beer Challenge, France Bière Challenge and the Brewers of Europe Forum. We also publish a beer magazine ‘Bier Grand Cru’. In my free time I’ve written a few beer books.


How did the Brussels Beer Challenge start? 

Brussels Beer Challenge
BBC 2018 day 2 – photo by Bart Van der Perre, courtesy of BBC

We started the BBC on a request from the City of Brussels to promote the gastronomic year 2012 in Brussels. My business partners were involved in the wine world, but the city wanted a beer event. And the rest is history.


How does the Brussels Beer challenge work?

Brussels Beer Challenge
BBC 2018 day 3 – photo by Bart Van der Perre, courtesy of BBC

International judges taste the beer that the brewers are sending to Belgium. The best beers are getting awarded.

Well, that sounds all pretty simple, but there are actually quite a few regulations and guidelines associated with the organization, registration, submissions, etc. Want to submit your beer or simply learn more about the details of the BBC? The rules and regulations (2018) and beer categories are available online.

Why participate and who should participate?

Who: Every brewer around the world.

Why: To offer beer producers a promotion and marketing tool. A medal is a huge honor.

How many beers get submitted for the challenge, from what countries? 

Around 1750 beers from 59 countries and around 500 breweries

Who are the judges? 

Brussels Beer Challenge
BBC 2018 day 1 – photo by Bart Van der Perre, courtesy of BBC

The BBC team will select judges from a list of internationally recognized brewers, consultants, industry suppliers and writers. These individuals have been selected on the basis of:

  1. Industry and peer recognition;
  2. Knowledge of beer styles and the brewing process;
  3. Flavor perception;
  4. Sensory training and prior judging or beer evaluation experience;
  5. Judging demeanor.

Most of them are beer sommeliers, consultants, professors, gastronomic journalist, ….

How does this differ from other beer competitions?

Brussels Beer Challenge
2018 Award Ceremony – photo courtesy of BBC

It’s in Belgium, the best beer country in the world. We only taste in the morning and visit breweries in the afternoon and evening. We don’t allow brewers in the jury. Our procedures are extremely strict. We are recognized by the European Beer Consumers Union.

Luc encourages people to attend the BBC event in November in Mons, Belgium. I most likely won’t be able to make it, but hey we never know…

More photos from the Brussels Beer Challenge: