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About the Awards

The Results of the 2023
Alberta Beverage Awards

By Tom Firth, Competition Director

Sometimes, one has to look back on things in order to look ahead. It was in a few conversations over the past year, that we were talking about drink competitions and specifically how it relates to the Alberta Beverage Awards. It’s now our 11th year – which is a pretty good milestone if I’m being honest. Over those 11 years, we’ve continually refined our process, looked at better ways of doing things, and learned with our colleagues in every regard. 


By my reckoning, I’ve personally judged now at just shy of three dozen double-blind competitions (a double-blind competition is when the judges may know something, like the grape or style of a wine, but wouldn’t know what is in the lineup or what labels are being tasted) – in six different countries, but at the same time, I’ve been involved behind the scenes or managed 23 competitions – yikes! 


So what does this vast wealth of information between my ears tell us? One, first and foremost, there are lots of ways to screw this up – especially if you don’t take this seriously. Two, if you don’t have a good team – you are completely effed facing a difficult uphill battle. It’s a continuous source of pride and amazement that our staff of stewards and the rest of the team at the ABAs are so damn good. I honestly don’t know what I would do without them. And finally, judging is hard work. We ask our judges to focus and assess over 100 samples blind each day, they have to know their stuff, the academia of the styles, grapes, and so on, but also what those samples “should” taste like, and finally, apply a score to them. Good judges are hard to come by!


A point that emerged in discussion while we were judging this year’s competition is why we don’t have any international judges or judges from outside of Alberta. The simple reason is that Alberta is a unique market: our collective palates are different from regions further away and the timing that new products arrive here is often quicker than other parts of Canada might be used to (our lack of government liquor stores does help). Our Alberta-based judges are intimately aware of what is in the market, what Albertans are looking for, and to be so trite, what the “Alberta Advantage” is when it comes to the beverage sector. 

This year, we’ve made the change to include scores. This wasn’t something we took lightly, but some folks really like seeing those scores. We are still presenting the results with a “Best in Class”, which is the top performer in its category, followed by “Judges’ Selection” which are the other high performing products in the category. 

As every Alberta liquor store is different, in many cases we’ve included a rough range for the retail price – but it also never hurts to check the producer’s website to see about going right to the source. Each product also has a “CSPC” number, which can be used to help you find it at your local retailer or at Some products also have a symbol to identify products that not only did well this year, but also in previous years, so you know that this product is consistently good. Tastes change, and we love seeing these consistent award winners gracing these pages.


We’ve also split out the results into 4 broad sections. Wine, beer, spirits, and all the other wonderful, diverse products that encompass the world of beverages. Please take special note of categories you currently enjoy, but take a look in the other sections – your new favourite tipple might be in there.


Thanks to our diligent and hardworking stewards and the rest of the team - Len Steinberg, Mairi, Danielle, Chelsea, Grant, Patrick, Lana, Travis, Clint, Paul, and Colleen; our sponsors: Medium Rare Chef Apparel, The Import Vintners & Spirits Association, The Alberta Liquor Store Association, Rök Water, and Spirit Wares; to our venue: Calgary’s Carriage House Hotel & Conference Centre, with their wonderful crew, our photographer Jason Dziver, and to our valued judges who are featured here.

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