A Beer Judge’s Diary: Knickerbocker 2018

Judging at Racing City Brewing, Saratoga, NY

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 We started judging Knickerbocker probably sometime in the early 2000s, maybe earlier. But only two of them. Then, many moons later, we came back.
 We really enjoy judging Knickerbocker but, for various reasons, we didn’t for many years. This year we normally wouldn’t have but the only way we could make Millie and my schedule work right was for me to stay up north from May to barely November.
 Aw, shucks, gee whiz, golly willikers, did I have to?
 No, just kidding, I really enjoy being where I partially grew up.
 While some judging took place at Artisanal Brew Works, we didn’t judge there. A lot of the judging was at Racing City Brewing; a new brewery in Saratoga Springs: just a little north east of the city and close to the Northway. Old friends were there, including Judy Pardee; one of the first Grand Masters in the BJCP. It’s amazing how you judge the same competitions and see people again and get that, “Oh, THIS is where I remember you from,” feeling.
 They had 213 entries, 33 judges and 18 stewards judge over two weekends, according to John Lee. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Knickerbocker 2018”

Beer Profile: Evil Twin Imperial Doughnut Break

Profiled by Ken Carman

Right off the bat I took a sip to assess what ended up being low carbonation and I got high alcohols. This seems to be a consistent Evil Twin problem.

Brown foam head that’s big, luscious and fades fairly quickly into a small bubble and glass edge only “head.” Black as all hell: no light shines through. Slight glass coat when tipped.

Deep malt complexity to malt in aroma. I get a hint of vanilla and almonds. No doughnuts, but unless I knew what the nature of the doughnuts were I have no idea what to look for. No hops in aroma. Deep dark chocolate sense dominates with a slight sweetness like a hint of brown sugar. If coffee is there it’s so slight hard to discern. There is a cappuccino sense: a hint at best, in taste.

Here’s the problem: there’s a strong higher alcohol sense that dominates the flavor making it a tad astringent and harsh. Behind that is the vanilla. Behind that is the slight sense of almonds. I don ‘t get the doughnuts but, again, what kind of doughnuts am I looking for? This quaff is harsh due to alcohol and it has SO much promise! Aftertaste in vanilla and alcohol. Finshes just a tad sweet AND dry! Dries the tongue, coats the roof of the mouth with a brown sugar like sensation.

I think the doughnuts may have simply added a viscosity to the point of thick. Almost chewy. Carbonation low, which I would expect. Coats roof of mouth AND the tongue.

I really, really wanted to like this. The higher alcohols are a major defect. I would check fermentation temp and find a better yeast: seems something this higher alcohol would be a problematic yeast, and the fact I’ve had problems with Evil Twin before and higher alcohols suggests to me a house yeast situation. Of course it could just be fermentation problems too.

I have saved some of this brewery’s brews for my tastings and have found out it smoothes out a tad. But it’s still not right.

4.2 BA
4.1 untappd
4 RB

Sorry guys, can’t do any better than…



Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”


_______________________Beer HERE

New Brewery: Various Artists, Nashville, TN

Two Nashville entrepreneurs plan to open a brewery on Elm Hill Pike not far from Fesslers Lane, my Nashville Post colleague William Williams reports. The brewery and pub will offer a menu featuring Argentine-style grilled meats.

Pat Isbey and Jeff Bergman will co-own and operate Various Artists Brewing Co., to be located at 1011 Elm Hill Pike in a building that Bergman owns. Longtime followers of Nashville’s restaurant scene may recall Isbey from the excellent barbecue spot Jimmy Carl’s Lunch Box, which he owned and operated from 2009 to 2010 in the Station Inn building in the Gulch. Isbey and Bergman are targeting a late-December opening for Various Artists Brewing.

Want to read more? Please click… HERE!

Beer Profile: Saranac’s Varick Street Breakfast Stout

Profiled by Ken Carman

For a slightly wood aged-like, imperial sweet stout I can’t imagine better. I got a 4 pack for judging Old Forge BIG Beer and Odd Ale Competition. It took me a few weeks before I could open one, but this is the kind of brew that can wait. By the way fellow Certified BJCP judge and my marital superior: Millie Carman, agrees.

The nose is lactose-like, milk and dark chocolate-like, mix. Just a hint of roasted barley sense way in the background. No hops sensed in aroma. Sweet sense tingles my nostrils; demanding I drink.

Black as hell, no light shines through. The head is dark tan, closing in on light brown. Pillow and Guinness-like in nature it goes from real big to small, but lingers. It coats the glass like it loves being there and hates to leave.

But the taste is where it’s at: intense malt profile. It finishes sweet, as expected. Slightest bitter, even though 50 IBUs. With this malt bill and sweet: not surprising. The sweet just doesn’t want to leave and dark caramel candy sense follows behind that. What hop sense there is is bitter, maybe with a whisper of herbal. Too little to assess what herb. Pale, caramel, hint black malts and hint roasted barley sense provides a BIG malt kick.

Carbonation light, but just right. Malt dominates in mouth feel too. This is so enticing to the palate as well: reminds me of a dark, brown sugar-ish sticky bun. That’s in mouthfeel too.

If they don’t brew this again may the spirit of craft beer haunt Saranac brewers and Fred Matt, their boss. INCREDIBLE. Highest rating I’ve ever given in my reviews.

untappd 4.02
BA 4.3
RB 3 (What’s WRONG with you, Ratebeer? OH, THAT’S RIGHT! No wonder. Bud driven ratings.



Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”


___________________________________Beer HERE

Brew Files – Episode 47 – The Bays of Portland

The Brew is Out There!

One of our favorite yeast people is back and he’s got big news! Nick Impelitteri is going full time and moving to Beervana – aka Portland – aka the new “Bay” City? In addition we talk about new toys he’s bringing to bear including a nectar loving critter that might change how you experience hops.
Want to hear more? Please click… HERE!

‘World’s oldest brewery’ found in cave in Israel, say researchers

Researchers say they have found the world’s oldest brewery, with residue of 13,000-year-old beer, in a prehistoric cave near Haifa in Israel. The discovery was made while they were studying a burial site for semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers. Brewing beer was thought to go back 5,000 years, but the latest discovery may turn beer history on its head.

Want to read more? Please click…HERE!

Cask Ale, No Frills, and Plenty of Conversation: Reinventing the English Pub for the 21st Century

The pub, or public house, is a revered institution in the United Kingdom, outweighing and outlasting even the church as an everyday part of British life. Pubs are romanticized, sentimentalized, and politicized, a nexus for conversations about gentrification and culture, and a proxy for the very state of the nation.

The ideal English pub might be an ancient rural coaching inn out of a painting by Constable, or an urban gin palace dancing with warm light reflected in mirrors and polished wood. Either way, it will probably be at least a hundred years old. New pubs were built in the 20th century—some 5,000 so-called “improved public houses” between the world wars, and around 4,000 austere modernist structures in the era of post-war reconstruction—but they tend to be less well-loved than their predecessors, lacking their dark corners and coziness.

Want to read more? Please click…HERE!