Judge Counter Points: New Belgium Tripel

Our judges: Jerry Wood, Certified BJCP and Ken Carman, Certified BJCP

  Let’s beginning, as us judges so often do, with AROMA. I noticed Jerry commented on a sweet aroma. I did not comment on sweetness either way even though I frequently do: Jerry did and I should have. Jerry found it very sweet in the aroma: honey-like, and slightly sweet in flavor. I don’t remember it that way: now I wish I had that second bottle Millie and I finished off to reassess for my own sake.
 This is why I write notes to myself on top of judging sheet when I’m practicing filling them out. I try to catch what I missed once I review what I did.
  Jerry found a mild solvent sense (“almost”) and perfume-y hop. We agreed on perfume-y but I didn’t get any sense of solvent. In fact I found the alcohol level a tad low. More on this in a moment.
 I also identified that the hops could be contributing to the pepper sense, which to me was overwhelming in the balance. Indeed my major issue was balance. We both had an 8 for AROMA.
  APPEARANCE: Jerry found the head a mix of different size bubbles, I found a pure white pillow, but as far as that contrast the goes the vessel poured into matters and I am guessing we used different size/shape glasses. (Jerry: I think it MAY have been those small Carboy glasses where the rim is less wide than the glass: a clever design, IMO.) We both had a slight haze but Jerry identified the color more as orange, while I identified it as yellow approaching gold. I could see where those descriptions may be similar in that to get orange one might add a little red, but it might also make it more gold-like. That head faded fast for both of us. We both had 2 for APPEARANCE.
 MOUTHFEEL and FLAVOR…
  Low body for both of us, Jerry had medium carbonation whereas for both bottles we found low carbonation. Jerry also got clove, to me it was all pepper. The biggest difference between us was Jerry found it almost alcohol hot where I found it needed more. That’s odd and, again, I wish Millie and I hadn’t polished off the second bottle. This could also be a serving temp issue: ours may have been cooler. Jerry found it had a dry finish, I didn’t find it dry or sweet, if I remember right, and neglected to comment. Again: I should have. Sigh.
  I had 14 for FLAVOR, Jerry 12. Jerry had 3 for APPEARANCE, I had 4. Thinking back I may have been a point high on the last one.
 OVERALL…
 I was impressed: I’m stealing something from Jerry. Right off the bat he thanked the brewer for brewing the ‘entry.’ I waited until the end of OVERALL. I think sometimes I may get too much into the weeds when it comes to OVERALL; suggesting how to improve an entry and mentioning any solutions. At the end I did tell the brewer I would drink several. Jerry’s right up front positive approach is better. Jerry made some too; I just made more because I’m working on improving my technical commentary. We both suggested more carbonation. Jerry suggested a slightly higher fermentation temperature, and I didn’t, mostly because I felt it might bring on problems like hot alcohol. Just a hint of irony there, eh?
 There could be a lot of reasons why there were differences. To assume the only reason is one palate is superior is usually over simplification. When it comes to these two sheets it must noted that how people identify what we sense is unique to each person: no matter how much we try to make them exactly the same. To me pepper and clove are more similar than they may be to Jerry, or maybe the pepper could have had an aspect that seemed clove-like to Jerry. Since I partially grew up among Adirondack pines with a distict, specific, aroma, I find what people call “pine-y” more zest-like. There are many reasons why scoresheets can seem so different, yet not really. That’s why entering several competitions then looking at similarities in sheets helps.


Judge Point/Counter Point examines different brews from the perspective of BJCP judges and possible an occasional pro-brewer without BJCP credentials. Beers chosen are beers the judges are not familiar with, though they may have had other beers by that brewer. Occasionally others with experience may be invited simply to get perspective from outside the more professional brewing and judging community. BJCP Judges usually will be of the same rank. 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.