A Beer Judge’s Diary- Peach State Brew Off

By Ken Carman
 This edition will be short. Stay tuned: I will explain why.
 I have never judged at this competition before for various reasons. I used to tour through Atlanta with my kid shows and educational activities. I stopped touring because of Atlanta traffic is wild and crazy, rush hour traffic amounting to parking lots and many of the places hiring me kept shifting ownership almost weekly. I’d book a program and three weeks later I’d walk in to new owners and, “Who are you?”
 Atlanta is a crazy busy, exploding outward town. The closer you get to Atlanta the harder it is to find reasonable motels more than questionable quality. There are plenty of great places, but very pricey. Why? Demand is high.
 The resorts I used to stay at were far out of town. There used to be free camping on Allatoona Lake to the north, but to save money the state shut them down. The short but simple face was, business-wise, it started to make less and less sense.
  But I had other business in Atlanta that Saturday, yes, beer-judge related. I may even write about it soon, but I can’t write a detailed story on that experience now. I don’t want to influence any decisions. Just trust me. Later.
 I was only able to judge one session, but it was enjoyable. I also got to judge with Grand Master Phil Farrell; a privilege for sure. He didn’t bring the chicken, as far as I know. I have my own collection of rubber chickens from entertaining kids all those years. Maybe some day we should have a chicken off?
 We had just a slight disagreement or two, at best, and I would say at least 95% of our scores were close. Some of our observations were different, but I feel could be easily explained by palate sensitivities and Phil’s talented tongue. OK, palate.
 We were in a large room over at Carey and Kimberly’s nice house with a dog friendly fenced in backyard on the west side of town. 6 entries, and only one was an Australian Sparkling Ale. I found it interesting because I had been studying the style recently. Ever since 2015 Guidelines came out I have been reviewing them so I can know them better. The rest were English IPAs. One entry clearly stood out and we were both happy with 1, 2 and 3: keeping with the scores.
 I find changes to the area interesting. When I found out where the competition was I wondered, really? I remembered the area back in the 90s as, well, not the best. But when I got closer to Carey and Kimberly’s house I noticed the area becoming quite nice. Is it because I never went down these specific streets, or because, like all cities, Atlanta has been changing? Nashville has done the same. East Nashville and lower Broadway were strict avoids when we moved here in 78. They too have changed for the better, like west Nashville changing now.
 For what was really a prejudging session we had a lot of judges. When I first walked in and saw the rooms filled to the max I thought chaos might ensue. But no, we all settled down to
Not actual picture of Butler, but close enough. Courtesy DogAppy
business quickly, professionally. Kudos for a well run session, especially with that many judges. I’m sure they were needed: I was told there was well over 400 entries.
 I wish I could tell you more, but one judging session in such a large competition doth not a complete picture make. I’d also like to give a shout out to Butler, the Great Dane. NO, not ‘Butler the Great Dane’ from Star Trek Generations! Carey and Kimberly Charles had a Harlequin (black and white) Great Dane named Butler. I was never told what category he judged, but from what little I stayed I’m guessing he was the life of the after party.

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Ken A Beer Judge’s Diary is one of many columns by Ken Carman: Certified BJCP beer judge, homebrewer since 1979 and seeker of both simple and complex quaffs who once upon a time thought he didn’t care all that much for beer. Then he discovered brews beyond the standard fare’ available on the east coast in the early 70s. Thus the adventure began.

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