Victors in the world of competitive barbecue are judged by just a single bite. Thus, when you’re producing some ribs or brisket for the blind tasting, competitors look to pack each and every possible bite with an overwhelming amount of sugary, salty, smoky, fatty flavor. The funny thing is, were you to actually try to eat an entire meal of these “competition” ribs or brisket, you couldn’t. They would be far too sickly sweet, way too nauseatingly rich.
When I look back at how I used to judge beer, I’m embarrassed to say I once acted like those blind-folded barbecue judges.
In my twenties, I strictly sought out the most ingredient-laden beers around. IPAs hopped and dry-hopped and perhaps even Randall-ized with numerous avant-garde varietals. Imperial stouts packed with more sugary adjuncts than an ice cream sundae bar. Sours jammed with a fruit salad of funk. Often these were enjoyed in few-ounce pours, sometimes as part of a tasting flight. Much better than having a full pint of something “drinkable,” something traditional, something not much different than the macro-lagers the craft beer industry was running from in the first place.
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