A Beer Judge’s Diary- Trusting Your Senses

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 I think perhaps one of the first personal lessons that I learned as a judge, and have to keep learning because there are almost an infinite number of variables, is problems I might have when identifying aromas, mouthfeel, etc. Sometimes it just takes more experience, but sometimes it is caused by relying too much on those who insist everyone visualizes smells and other perceptions the same. And when someone doesn’t sense the same the second biggest (perhaps just as important or more) mistake we make is automatically blaming it all on them for having a different perception.
 How easy and self aggrandizing is that?
 When it comes to judging beer I think one time one of these ongoing lessons was emphasized, reinforced, had to do with the ‘pine’ descriptor. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary- Trusting Your Senses”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: Pensacola Battle of the Brews and New Breweries

Blue Wahoos Stadium
By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 I won’t be able to do as complete a job as I would like on this competition because it all came down pretty fast, so I’m adding a brief report on three new Pensacola breweries: more profiles than anything else.
 It started out as the trip from hell: blown tire, nuts for the spare didn’t fit quite right, no new tire until the next day and the dog was sick all weekend long. This was the first year for Brewery Battle in the Square: a pro brewer competition somewhat based around Irish beer. We had three categories: Irish Stout, Irish Red and Pilsner. It was done in tandem with a competition of area offerings from chefs. We have no comments about the food competition because we got there late: the BJCP competition was after the food was judged. We did have a Boston Butt from one of the competitors after the competition and it was excellent. The food trucks obviously arrived in a swarm earlier, stinging visitor’s palates with pleasure. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Pensacola Battle of the Brews and New Breweries”

Beer Cafes and Bolleke: Beer for a Day in Antwerp

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Like so many cities and towns in Belgium, Antwerp is but an hour and change by train from Brussels. If you’re like me and your trips to Belgium never amount to more than about five days at a time, these medieval cities and towns end up as day trip destinations, even if they merit several days. But with a modicum of advanced planning, you can spend an enriching day in Antwerp. And you won’t be at a loss for beer and places to drink it.

A historic port that accrued its wealth through the diamond trade, Antwerp started life as a fort during Charlemagne’s time. During the 1500s, it emerged as the region’s premier port after Bruges’ once-bustling port silted up. By mid-century, Antwerp was one of Europe’s most important cities, boasting a population of around 100,000 inhabitants, one of whom was Pieter Paul Rubens. The city suffered several reversals of fate over the next three centuries till Napoleon Bonarparte rebuilt the ports in 1797. By the late nineteenth century, Antwerp was the world’s third-largest port after London and New York.

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Crux “Gated Community”: The Brutest of the Bruts


Just a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a brewery, which shall remain nameless, tasting yet another desultory Brut “IPA” and whining to myself about the seeming inability of Northwest breweries to make one that even remotely measures up to the original, the template, as created at The Social Kitchen & Brewery in San Francisco, by brewmaster Kim Sturdavant. I tasted his two on tap at The Social in February of 2018, and was floored by the almost laughable 180-degree turnabout from the recent trend of milkshake beers and ales infused with all manner of wild adjuncts – gingerbread, marshmallow, pretzels, banana muffins, pancakes, cupcakes, guava, mango, maple syrup, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Lemonheads, slices of actual pumpkin pie, etc…the list goes on and on.

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A Season for Strong Beer

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

You have to admire a city where the rhythms of life revolve around excuses to tap a keg and raise a mug of good cheer.

Munich is one such city where the seasons are marked by festivities that involve a healthy amount of imbibing. Most of these beer festivals have their roots in Catholicism and are, more often than not, bound up with the arrival of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

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Beer Profiles: Uinita Detour IPA and Crooked Stave’s Trellis Buster

Profiled by Ken Carman

It’s a profile off! I thought these so similar that it would be fun to do this.

Crooked Stave Trellis Buster

For all the promo on the can this is NOT a double taste abv mouthfeel wise, or hop-wise. It IS a well balanced IPA with a very interesting hopping, if you accept the caramel. There is some significant caramel malt-like sense in this. I like it, but not the point. The body is low side medium, but the malt makes it seem higher. Carbonation is medium. The caramel malt sense on this heads out of style, really, as it warms.

I like it, but I would think traditionalists would be annoyed by all the caramel. Aroma is caramel and a very fresh hop sense. The hops are quite fruity in a tangerine/orange way. Reminds me of using those fruits instead of apple for a caramel apple one might get at a carnival. As it warms bitter comes out, but it’s still background. Finishes moderate: not quite sweet, not quite dry.

Head retention poor. Head color off white. Almost no head.
Continue reading “Beer Profiles: Uinita Detour IPA and Crooked Stave’s Trellis Buster”

Barleywine Commentary: Victory Old Horizontal Barleywine

By Ken Carman

I started this as a profile for PGA, but decided a commentary might be more appropriate. The Professor not only agreed but is hoping to make this a semi-regular feature with rotating writers.

Barleywines tend to be high abv. Yes, but this is higher alcohol-ish. Not much, but annoyingly so. But more than that I am going to abandon my standard BJCP-type review because, IMO, the 2015 Guidelines contributed to this. I understand that commercial versions of American Barleywine have gotten more hoppy, but this is what you get. It was annoyingly bitter, so much so it was hard to drink. And what the hell is wrong with having a sweeter barleywine? The bitter masks the rich goodness a great barleywine has to offer. Continue reading “Barleywine Commentary: Victory Old Horizontal Barleywine”