Briefing for Stewards

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Thank you for volunteering to steward at this competition. Competitions like this one are simply not possible without the dedication and generosity of yourselves and others in our homebrewing community.

Stewards will receive a full briefing at the beginning of each judging session. Please try to arrive in time for the briefing. However, this pre-competition brief might be useful, especially for new or inexperienced stewards, in helping you to understand and prepare for your tasks in advance of the day itself.

How it’s all going to work (summary)

  1. The Competition Organiser will decide how the numerous beer categories will be divided up into manageable groups, which will then be allocated to tables. The beers will be arranged in boxes according to their table numbers.
  2. As a steward you will be allocated to a pair of judges, or, if you are more experienced, to more than one pair of judges, depending on the number of stewards available at the session.
  3. Judging will then take place, and once all of the beer on a table has been completed, the top scoring beers will go forwards to a Mini Best-of-Show taste-off by the judges previously involved in the judging on the table. Not all of the judges need to be present and they will determine amongst themselves who will be involved.
  4. The winner of Mini Best-of-Show will go forward to the overall Best-of Show for the competition.
  5. Please be aware that judging sessions may sometimes be lengthy and if you have to leave while judging is still in progress then please speak either to the Head Steward or the Competition Organiser.

Stewarding Objectives

The importance of the steward’s role is often underestimated. Without your input the judges’ jobs would be far harder and take far longer. Ultimately, we want to make sure that beers are judged accurately and that competition entrants get full, informative and accurate feedback for their entries. Your role is therefore to facilitate the efficient and effective management of the judging of the beers that you have been allocated. This can be summed up in the following objectives:

  • To be organised in terms of the presentation of beers in your flight and the associated paperwork to the judges;
  • To ensure that your table has everything it needs in terms of equipment etc to enable efficient, trouble-free judging (at the beginning and throughout the judging session);
  • To ensure that judges are provided with provided with beer in a timely fashion, and that they have completed their paperwork accurately;
  • Optional (to be discussed with the judges prior to the commencement of judging) - ideally no more than 15 minutes per beer should be taken to reach their conclusions.

Things you’ll Need to Do

After the Stewards’ Briefing you will need to do the following:

  • Await to be allocated the table of beers that you are stewarding for;
  • Ensure that you are not stewarding for a table in which your beers are entered;
  • Familiarise yourself with the layout of the tables;
  • Obtain the paperwork for your beer listing – beer scoresheet, beer listing sheets, steward’s checklist and Mini Best-of-Show sheet;
  • Find a location to organise the beers, preferably close to the table where your beers are being judged;
  • Ensure that all the beers that you are responsible for are accounted for on the beer listing sheets;
  • If any beers on your list are missing, inform the Head Steward or the Competition Organiser;
  • Similarly, ensure that all of the judging sheets are present and inform the Head Steward or the Competition Organiser of any issues or concerns.

A Steward’s Checklist will be provided to help you through the process. Please complete the information required as indicated.

Table Setup

Preferably before the judges arrive, prepare the table (although this may already have been done), and ensure that there is:

  • glassware for sampling;
  • pencils and erasers;
  • water for rinsing glasses and for drinking;
  • crackers for resetting the palate;
  • bucket for waste beer;
  • kitchen paper or cloth for keeping tables clean and free from spills; and
  • a bottle opener.

Prior to Commencement of Judging

When the table has been set up and the judges are in place:

  • Introduce yourself to your assigned judges;
  • Ensure that the judges have no entries in the list of beers they are judging (although this should already have been dealt with at the Judges’ Briefing);
  • Discuss the order in which the judges would like to receive the beers (could be dependent on things such as style, strength, colour and so on).


To commence judging:

  • Identify the number of the next beer to be judged.
  • Hand out the score sheets to each of the judges.
  • Collect the beer and ask the judges to confirm that they have the correct beer. It is usually easier to let the judges open the bottle and pour it for themselves. But you may want to check this with them. If you are asked to pour the beer, take great care not to disturb any sediment. Ask the judges how much they would like you to pour.
  • If you would like to sample the beer with the judges, ask them if it is ok to for you to do so. If you do sample the beer you must leave enough in the bottle in case it is needed for the Mini Best-of-Show. Also, please don't offer any comment on the beers, although they may well ask for your opinion once their assessment is complete. The judges should not discuss their comments until they have both completed the scoresheet (for your information only).
  • When the judges have finished their scoring, record their scores on the beer list sheet, and the final consensus score that they agree on.
  • If there is a disparity of more than 8 points between the judges’ scores, then it must be resolved - if a consensus cannot be reached a third judge might be asked for an opinion.
  • Replace the bottle top (as best you can) and replace the bottle back with the others for your table.
  • Proceed to the next beer on the list.
  • At a convenient moment, check that the scores have been added up correctly on the scoresheets. You would be surprised how often mistakes are made, and it is important that entrants are confident about the administration for the competition.
  • Top up any consumables (water, crackers) that may be running low.
  • At the end of the judging, the judges on the table should select the top beers that should go forward to the Mini Best-of-Show.

Mini Best-of-Show

Set up the Mini Best-of-Show

  • You should use a blinding sheet or other methods, such as beer mats, to anonymise the beers.
  • Bring the selected beers back to the table, pour them, making sure judges don’t see the original labels and numbers, and ask them to rank them.
  • If you need help with this process then discuss with the Head Steward or the Competition Organiser. Alternatively, the judges may be able to offer advice.

Judging Mini Best-of-Show

  • The judges will decide the final positions of the beers.
  • Add the final positions to the Mini Best-of Show sheet.

After Judging is Complete

Make sure all the paperwork is filled out correctly and return everything to the Head Steward or the Competition Organiser. Don’t throw anything away!


If you feel that you have made a mistake at any point, do not panic – discuss your concerns with the Head Steward or the Competition Organiser as soon as possible. Mistakes can be made easily, but can be rectified if caught early enough. We use a barcode system, so sheets filled out in error need to have a new bar code applied and not just the judging numbers amended.

Last but not least, enjoy the experience and we hope to see you again helping out at another competition.