The chain is responding to concerns among some microbrewers that winners of past retail competitions have got into trouble after investing in capacity to fulfil orders, only to lose the listing they've won as a prize.
Sainsbury's has recruited consultant Richard Morrice - who created and for 12 years ran the Tesco Beer Challenge until it was folded into the Tesco Drinks Awards last year - to run its new scheme.
Morrice said: "The volume requirements of the Sainsbury's awards are considerably less and shouldn't have a negative effect on smaller brewers."
Sainsbury's will choose 15 finalists on taste and packaging appeal to appear in a summer beer promotion, with a guaranteed order for 5,000 cases.
The two best selling products will get a national listing for six months and "the sort of consultancy money can't buy", according to Morrice.
This will include advice on what supermarkets are looking for when making listing decisions, contacts with agencies who negotiate supermarket listings for brands and tips on how to milk local publicity.
Sainsbury's beer and cider category buyer Chris Craig said: "There are a huge number of brewers out there, of varying sizes, who would love to get their product listed in supermarkets but haven't had the opportunity, information or support, to enable them to do it.
"Our competition is a simple way to help brewers, and in particular smaller, regional brewers, to get a listing that could lead to further sales opportunities if the beer sells well in our stores."
Morrice said Sainsbury's would launch a sister competition for cider producers in 2009.