Judge Counterpoints: Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing


 I am hoping to have at least a few editions of this. I already did this under one of my other columns. What I am hoping for here is to display just how different judge palates can be: even day to day and referring to one judge. However most editions will be two BJCP judges, and if other judges wish to join in on this please contact me. You can summarize the differences between the two judges or I can. Different beers will be judged: mostly commercial, however I am open to homebrews. This is raw judging not consensus because the point is missed if we adjust.
 For this edition we chose Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing. Nothing on the can tells us what style IPA it is, but we both agreed New England IPA.
 Millie and I are both Certified.
 Our scores were 10 points apart. I got a 38, Millie got a 28. Minor differences include Millie felt the aroma was lemon-like whereas I thought it more grapefruit. I didn’t identify the hops, mostly because I find naming specific hops rather, fruitless? If I write “Cascade,” as she did, I can be relatively sure it will be Amarillo, or essence or squeezed armadillo, or who knows. She also noted “spicy.” I didn’t.
 The appearance descriptors were about the same.
 The main difference was Millie found the flavor very astringent, and admitted sometimes IPAs effect her this way. To me I found relatively no astringency: especially for an IPA, but the product being somewhat out of balance for an NEIPA. While the aroma screamed the fruity delightfulness of an NEIPA, the flavor was close to nothing but bitter: malt way in the background, as we both described. I found it less a great NEIPA, more a better than good IPA, despite appearance being spot on for an NEIPA. Carbonation just a hint low for the style.
 A couple notes here: I did find more fruit in the flavor as it warmed, but still lacking. Millie found some pepper sense in the hopping.
 I gave it a 15 for flavor, Millie a 10. We were only one point apart on mouthfeel and overall, four points on aroma and appearance where Millie gave it a perfect 3, I gave it a 2. I felt the head faded very fast, a minor point it’s true. Perhaps when the BJCP includes NEIPA in 2015 either of us might change.
 Millie judged with Guidelines. I didn’t because I am heading towards improving my tasting score in the future. Kind of a “I know I have to use the Force so I’d better get used to it” concept. However, since we relied on standard descriptors, and what little we knew of NEIPA, it probably doesn’t account for score differences.

Judge Point/Counter Point examines different brews from the perspective of BJCP judges and possible an occasional pro-brewer without BJCP credentials. Occasionally others with experience may be invited simply to get perspective from outside the more professional brewing and judging community. The reader is reminded that these results are offered as is with no discussion between judges for a consensus that might alter the differences in the two scores. BJCP score sheets are used.