The third edition of the CICA International Craft Beer Competition was celebrated, with an important increase in the number and quality of the participating beers
In this 2018 edition, CICA is consolidated as one of the independent benchmark events in the sector, by significantly increasing the presence of international breweries and strengthening the participation of national breweries
Last September 26, the final tasting sessions corresponding to CICA 2018 took place at the Barceló Food Market in Madrid. This contest, convoked and organized by Alamesa Wine & Beer Action Marketing, is committed one more year to value and recognize quality and diversity of the different craft beers available in the market, generating interest and awareness in the final consumer, which in this way will be even more attracted by a product that grows in popularity and sales volumes year after year.
The jury of CICA, composed by sommeliers specialized in beer, qualified judges, brewmasters, trainers, specialized journalists and responsibles of sales and distribution, assessed through a blind tasting system a total of 157 different beers, representing a large group of national and international breweries, with samples from countries such as Ireland, Belgium, Latvia or Venezuela. It should be noted that the contest had beers registered in each and every one of the 17 categories accepted in the Competition, a fact that speaks in favor of the plurality and evolution of the brewing sector, as more complex styles and not so known among the public are developed. These figures show a clear upward trend of CICA, which in this last edition has opted for internationalization and to facilitate as much as possible the registration of breweries, which has practically multiplied by four the number of participating beers with respect to previous editions.
The tasting and evaluation of the jury has been highly complex. It has not been easy to choose the best beers among such a large number of samples of excellent global quality, and belonging to such varied and different styles. The judges have shown their extensive knowledge of the product and its high demand, and finally a total of 43 medals have been granted, of which 4 are Grand Gold, 21 are Gold medals and the remaining 18 are Silver medals. The official medal table of CICA shows that quality and good work in the craft beer sector does not understand borders or styles, because among the winners are beers of both national and international origin, covering a total of 14 categories and 29 different subcategories.
The absolute winning beer of this edition of CICA has turned out to be the Kraft-beer Porter of the latvian brewery Ilgezeem, which in this way takes over from the Triple of the french Terenez – La Brasserie du Bout du Monde, winner of CICA 2017. The judges have been able to appreciate the characteristics of this porter elaborated in Riga, which stands out for its intense aroma and for the perfect integration of alcohol, granting it a Grand Gold medal and the maximum score, thus rising as the best beer of the Contest. However, this brewery from Latvia, which has started its distribution in Spain only a few months ago, has shown that its references have more than enough quality to gain a foothold in the national market, as its märzen Kraft-beer Ekstra and its Kraft-beer Honey have been awarded with a Gold and a Silver medal in the categories of Dark and Amber Lagers and Special Beers, respectively.
Regarding the award for the best brewery of the Competition, an award dedicated to all those breweries that registered at least three beers in the contest, the distinction went to the Pagoa brewery from Guipuzcoa. Three of its references (the Gorri red ale, the Beltza stout and the Horia pilsner) have been included in the CICA honor roll, where they have stood out as the best beers of their styles, receiving Gold and Grand Gold medals in case of the Beltza. These results demonstrate once again the quality and know-how of the Oiartzun brewery, which was already widely awarded at CICA 2017 (where both the Gorri and the Horia reaped medals), and that in this way is consolidated as one of the producers of reference at national level.
The role played by the irish breweries registered in the contest has been outstanding, achieving a total of 12 medals in different categories for breweries such as Rye River Brewing, Wicklow Wolf, Dundalk Bay, Hope Beer and Boyne Brewhouse. This last brewery has obtained a Grand Gold medal for its American Pale Ale in the category of American Ales, proving that the beers of Ireland not only stand out in the traditional styles of the country such as red ale or stout, where they have also reaped success, but have also achieved high scores in substyles such as rauchbier, saison or pale lager. These distinctions will undoubtedly mean a turning point for these breweries, which will thus increase their chances of being introduced to the Spanish market, by having awards that guarantee their highest quality.
The upper part of the medal table is completed by the Navarra brewery Kondaira, which has obtained a Grand Gold medal for its Negra, an excellent schwarzbier made with licorice stick and sugar cane, which give it an exquisite aniseed and sweet flavor. Likewise, the brewery has rounded up its participation in CICA with a Gold medal for its Special in the light lagers category.
Among other noteworthy results, it is worth mentioning the Gold medal and the best beer award in its category for the Peninsula IPA, which confirms its high level already demonstrated in other beer competitions, in a particularly tough category with numerous rivals (however, the India Pale Ale category was the largest in the Competition, with about thirty registered references). The catalonian Wylie Brewery, recognized as one of the best new breweries of the moment, also showed her know-how in CICA by winning a total of 4 Gold and Silver medals, highlighting especially in the Indian Pale Ale category, where its double IPA Lush DIPA and its Koo Koo NEIPA won Gold medals, and their Fuck Gravity Brut IPA a Silver medal.
The aragonese Ordio Minero brewery did not miss his appointment with the medals, which won a Gold medal for its famous Matadragons, one of the most recognized and nationally awarded barleywines, and also a Gold medal for its Rebel Estiu in the category pilsner. The Canary Island brewery Isla Verde made its appearance again in the medal table of CICA, as it did in the 2017 edition, by winning Silver medals for its witbier Indiana and its dubbel Danza del Diablo. Finally, it is worth highlighting the good role of belgian beers in the category of acid beers, where the Mort Subite Oude Gueuze and Gueuze, varieties of a reduced production and limited to the local area, have filled the medal table of the category with a Gold medal and a Silver respectively.
In summary, the results of CICA have reflected the creative and innovative character of the craft brewing sector, which is not satisfied with dominating the most popular and accepted by the public styles, but tries to produce new groundbreaking references that surprise the consumer and that show a high quality and technical capacity, as the judges have been able to witness. In the words of the Organization of the contest: We believe that this edition has served to strengthen CICA as one of the most valued beer quality competitions currently. We have noticed an important increase in the interest of the breweries in order to be part of the Contest, and not only to qualify for the final awards, but also to know the professional and well-founded opinion of the jury, and thus be able to improve their beers as much as possible. In addition, we have reinforced the participation of international breweries, which in this way bet on testing their beers by the experts before their imminent entry into the national market. Therefore, CICA will return in its next edition as a consolidated contest that enjoys prestige and recognition for its good work by breweries, consumers and professionals in the sector.
The award-winning beers at CICA 2018 will be able to show off the badges that prove the medals achieved in the contest, which will serve as a visible reference of its high quality and as an attraction for consumers. In this way, breweries will be duly rewarded for their efforts, increasing the prestige and media presence of their brand, and in the short term will see growing their market share and demand on the part of the consumers. In addition, the Organization will make available to the award-winning breweries an important package of advantages associated with their award, among which are opportunities for export and direct sales, as well as presence in different events and acts open to the public, which in this way will know directly the winning references.
Finally, in addition to congratulating all the winners, the Organization appreciates the dedication, interest and confidence that all participants have placed in CICA, which contributes to maintaining the contest as one of the leaders in the craft beer sector, and recognizes the praiseworthy work done by collaborating entities and associations, sponsors and specialized media that have gave diffusion to the Contest.