The 9th annual Brussels Beer Challenge took place in Brussels from October 26 to November 6, 2020, with all the necessary safety precautions and health measures. The level of judging and tasting conditions were as high as at previous Brussels Beer Challenges, with judges mainly Belgian or Belgium residents.

Out of more than 1,500 beers that were entered in the Brussels Beer Challenge this year, we’re excited to announce we walked away with not one, not two, but three awards for Lager, Feral One and Parabola.

Our 2020 Accolades

  • Lager – Bronze for American Pilsner category
  • Feral One (2019) – Bronze for Gueuze category
  • Parabola (2020) – Bronze for Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout category

This is the second time a Barrelworks beer has been honored by being awarded in the Old-Style Gueuze category. Sour Opal was awarded Bronze in 2015 and now Feral One in 2020.

“We’re very honored to have Feral One recognized in such a prestigious category among Belgian brewers. Only two other international breweries outside of the Belgian sour makers have ever won in this category in the past nine years. Gueuze is like the coveted IPA category of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) to the Belgians. This is huge for us and we couldn’t be happier.” – Jim Crooks, Barrelworks Master Blender

“I couldn’t be more surprised and honored with the news. From the early days of conceptualizing what Barrelworks beers would taste like, the Gueuze-like flavors that were celebrated in the Belgian beers from Boon, Beersel, and Drie Fontenein, to name a few, were always set as the pinnacle of what could be achieved given hard work and a stroke of good fortune. From the beginning of building Feral One starting in 2013, this beer has always been about the chance to celebrate my love of the Gueuze style flavors and is, in essence, my homage to the Belgian sour beer maker.” – Jim Crooks, Barrelworks Master Blender

The Judging Process

Brussels Beer Challenge explains that the panel is comprised of experienced and well-trained judges. Its quality can also be ascribed to the background of its members: beer sommeliers, specialist journalists, beer distributors, bar keepers and brewers as well as seasoned beer enthusiasts. All of them evaluated the samples in a blind tasting session based on sensory criteria and pleasure. They then decided together which beers would take the top three places in each of the categories.

It’s good to be among some of the world’s best.

— David Walker

Trends from the 2020 Competition

  • Belgium maintained its leadership with 79 awards, followed by the United States (31), Italy (30), the Netherlands (23), Brazil (16) France (13), Canada (10) and China (9).
  • The competition is increasingly international in scope with entries from 36 countries this year, including Australia, South Korea, Bolivia and Ukraine.
  • ‘NEIPA’ is the fastest-growing category with 43 entries.
  • ‘Belgian Tripe’l (71), ‘Belgian Witbier’ (46) and ‘Herb’ and spice (44) are the most popular categories.
  • ‘Alcohol Free’ and ‘Low Alcohol’ categories are burgeoning.

About the Brussels Beer Challenge

The Brussels Beer Challenge, the first professional beer competition in Belgium, was created by Becomev (Beer Communications & Events) under the leadership of Luc De Raedemaeker and Thomas Costenoble in 2012 in response to the growing interest in beer culture.

The first edition of the Brussels Beer Challenge took place in 2012 at La Bourse in Brussels. Since then, the event has moved regularly and expanded to become one of the world’s most important and prestigious competition.