A Beer Judge’s Diary: Amber

Different colors of actual amber

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 This comes from an argument I had quite a while ago with another BJCP judge about how we talk about colors: specifically amber. If you look at the picture at the top of the column you may note that actual amber is certainly not just one color, and definitely not always lighter than what we think of as copper, though copper is not a singular color. It does vary… somewhat.
 If you look into the colors of honey there are variations on amber honey too in mead judging. So why do we stick to one hue? One variation? Shouldn’t we have gradations to more accurately reflect the actual color? I might even consider dropping copper if considering light to dark, because copper is more a hue variation with the addition of a red tint to it. Copper, when it comes to light to dark, could be covered by amber.
 I do believe in standards, but standards that reflect the nature of the color, not one singular nature. I have read the argument that everyone is familiar with the standard color due to amber the substance that is commonly used in jewelry. My father made jewelry out with amber setting all the time, but that practice seems to have faded with better fake gems. That one version may have gotten a slight kick from Jurassic Park, but how long ago was that?

 I remember from science colors are divided into light and what we as humans derive from substances. Above you see amber light colors according to color-hex.com.
 Beer, I would assume, might be both substance and light created color because, yes, how light shines through is a large part of it. But, like paint, what we use to make those colors, like malt (etc), makes the color you see.
 Since amber can vary close to brown down to almost yellow, or even a light yellow, why not use the variations on amber to fill the space between yellow and brown?
Variations on amber in paint spectrum. color-hex.com.


 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 60s. Thus the adventure began.
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