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19th December 2023

International Judging Panel Announced For World’s Most Historic Cider Competition

The world’s most historic beer and cider competition – The International Brewing & Cider Awards – has announced its esteemed cider judging panel. The panel comprises internationally acclaimed cidermakers, bringing together their expertise and perspectives from key cider-producing regions around the globe, including the UK, USA and Spain, as well as emerging territories like Japan, Norway and Latvia.

Gabe Cook, known as The Ciderologist will once again lead the panel as Head of Cider Judging. As a globally-recognised cider UK-based expert, Gabe brings more than 15 years’ expertise working with small farmhouse cidermakers to the largest producers worldwide.

Through his acclaimed writing, teaching and judging endeavours, Gabe has been a driving force in the cider revolution, and his wealth of experience positions him as the perfect leader to guide the judging panel in their pursuit of recognising and rewarding extraordinary ciders at the International Brewing & Cider Awards 2024.

The stellar panel of working professionals has been chosen to reflect the current expertise in the tasting and commercial evaluation of ciders going into the market. They are not only experts in the craft of cidermaking but are also actively engaged in commercial practices, adding an invaluable layer of industry insight to the judging process. Their collective experience and passion for cider will ensure the most comprehensive assessment of entries, reflecting the global diversity and innovation within the industry.

The International Cider Awards judging panel comprises:

  • Christine Walter, owner and head cidermaker at Baumans Cider, USA: Christine is a prominent figure in the US cider scene, and board member of the American Cider Association. Having founded Baumans Cider in 2016, the company is renowned for pushing the limits and crafting exceptional high-quality ciders, achieving significant acclaim on a global scale, producing 100,000 gallons of cider annually.
  • Takuro Ikeuchi, head brewer at Son of the Smith, Japan: Takuro brings a distinctive outlook to the cidermaking realm, spearheading a fresh chapter for cider in Japan. Drawing inspiration from fermentation customs in the United States, France and various global regions, Takuro has seamlessly integrated his expertise in organic chemistry to establish methods that adapt to the nuances in apples across seasons, and re-defined what’s possible when it comes to cider.
  • Sean Houghton, master cidermaker at Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm, UK: With a deep understanding of the UK cider tradition, Sean is a revered cidermaker. His commitment to excellence has garnered recognition nationally, producing consistently great tasting cider from the heart of Cornwall.
  • Dr Amalka Woodall, product and material technologist at Heineken, UK: Amalka plays a key role in steering the company’s progress in crafting international, regional, local and speciality ciders at the world’s number one cider brand, Strongbow. Devoted to fostering innovation, Amalka actively contributed to the successful launch of the innovative Strongbow Ultra Dark Fruit.
  • Olav Bleie, founder of Alde Sider, Norway: Olav is a leading figure in Norwegian cider and a driving force of the Hardanger cider wave. As the man behind the award-winning Alde Cider, which, in five years, has become one of Norway’s leading brands, his recipe for success is great taste buds and a passion for quality and hard work.
  • Tano Collada, oenologist for the El Gaitero Group, Spain: Tano is the fourth generation of cidermakers at El Gaitero, bringing a wealth of experience in crafting Mediterranean-style ciders. With a vast network of over 70 distributors across Spain, El Gaitero is a market leader in the cider industry which reflects the vibrant flavours and terroir of the region.
  • Maris Plume, owner of Mr Plume Cidery, Latvia: Representing the Baltic spirit in cidermaking, Maris has built a family enterprise that bases its production on quality over quantity, and on a totally ecological and artisanal approach. With expertise gained from stints at renowned cider farms in Austria and France, Maris has conducted experiments with diverse fermentation techniques to create an award-winning cider which showcases the unique apple varieties of Latvia.

The competition’s unique approach to the judging process sets it apart from other industry awards. The judges’ role is to recognise and reward the quality and commercial worth of the ciders entered whether they be large volume or special niche products of excellence.

Gabe Cook, Head of Cider Judging at the International Cider Awards, said: “We have some of the best cidermakers in the world judging this prestigious competition, and it’s their participation which underpins the International Cider Awards’ credibility.

“The Awards prides itself on the unique judging process which ensures each cider is judged fairly and rigorously on its quality and commercial value, by those practicing within the industry. It is these values that sets us apart.

“Now is such an exciting time for the industry, and with a whole new world of cidermakers producing innovative products, recognition for the technical skill and taste of your product by commercially practicing cidermakers, will ensure products stand out from the crowd. If you want to showcase your product and see how they fair amongst the best in the world, there is no better competition.”

The International Brewing & Cider Awards will take place in March 2024 at Depot Mayfield in Manchester, UK. Cidermakers from across the globe are invited to enter their finest ciders to be blind judged by an international panel of commercially practicing expert cidermakers from around the world, and gain recognition on an international stage.

For the first time in 137-years, the Awards will be accompanied by a public festival – The International Brewing & Cider Festival. The festival will offer a rare opportunity for attendees to taste such a wide range of local, national and international products, including entered and award-winning cider from the Awards.

Entries for the awards closes on 1st February 2024. For more information about the Awards, including a list of categories and entry criteria, please visit:



Press: Media enquiries for The International Brewing and Cider Awards:  Umpf, on 0800 4 10 20 10.

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