A Beer Judge’s Diary: Old Forge BIG Beer and Odd Ale, 2017

WINNERS 2017 OFBB
Best of Show BIG Beer: Evan Rauch’s Baltijes Rasa 9C Baltic Porter
Best of Show Odd Beer: Adam Kugler’s The Great Grape Ape 34C Experimental
2nd Place: Blair Richardson’s and Marti Richardson’s Sour Brown 28C
3rd Place: Luke Esoposki’s Specialty Wood Aged 25C
Honorable Mention: Dean Wiensch’s Dabling a Bit Part Deux 5C German Helles
People’s Choice: Michael ClarkPywar’s Hint O’ Mint 34C

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
  Why do I lose track? Nothing to do with high gravity and general weirdness, one hopes. I think this is the 4th OFBBOA, though the first year the name was different. But it could be the 5th. Maybe being stalked by a bear (part one) one year has
Courtesy adirondackalmanack.com
Courtesy adirondackalmanack.com
devoured some of my memory capacity, competition specific? I’m here, he didn’t eat me because Mr. Bear had more of an interest in a nearby outhouse. A long story where I REALLY don’t want to know the specifics of what he was doing in there. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Old Forge BIG Beer and Odd Ale, 2017”

A Beer-y Good Story: Competition Partners

 I understand: “Beer-y Good” may not apply to this one, except as a warning flag to keep up with your sponsors. I was glad I did.

Written by Ken Carman


 Be watchful who you dance with…
 Last year I partnered with a local organization for my competition. This is a case of, “Uh, oh.” When I heard everyone I had worked with last year was gone I knew in my other, more professional, life this rarely is a “good” sign. There’s a reason why “a new broom sweeps clean” is usually stupidity to the max. People know how things work, and more important how they didn’t. The best example I can think of; from before I started my life as a full time entertainer, is a car dealer I did transfers for. The company sold twice and the second time they fired everyone and radically changed the business model. The doors shut six months later. Continue reading “A Beer-y Good Story: Competition Partners”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: the 11th Beaver River Beer Tasting, Beaver River, NY, 2017

STRANGE person with obvious tongue defect who does this beer tasting year after year

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 Really, this was the 11th Beaver River Beer Tasting? Yes! Doesn’t seem that long ago. Of course, along with the good crowd some regulars showed up, like Donna Fruit Beer Brown: seen in the picture at the bottom of this column, Joyce Carman Lovelace and her daughters: May and Dorothy, the Hutchinsons. Of course what would an annual Beaver River Beer Tasting be without award winning brewer, beer judge, steward, winemaker Mark Franey… who also blows mean bagpipes?
 Mark brought several browns to educate the palate including maple brown, hazelnut brown, pecan brown, caramel brown and chili coffee brown. He also brought some of his wine. No one whined about that. Since we have limited time, about 5 beers in, Mark took over. We only have from about 1:30 until 3:30 when the busses arrive to take everyone off to the Riverboat back to Stillwater. Luckily they pick up in front of the house. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: the 11th Beaver River Beer Tasting, Beaver River, NY, 2017”

Beer Profile: Caldera’s Hopportinity Knocks

Courtesy West Coast Beer Geek

Profiled by Ken Carman

82 out of 100 BA, 3.6 out 0f 5 Untappd

I suppose it’s just right for those not expecting more. Strong bitter, really no flavor. Hopportunity has that kind of grapefruit hop nose one expects, but not what one finds when a brewer also plans on fruiting your tongue (or spicing, or floral-ing, or…) as well as bittering. Too many late additions? A tad astringent, which would be fine if there was something else there.

The mouth screams for at least a little malt sense. I understand hops are the star, and I can take super IBU bombs, but I expect at least some complexity.

I have found Caldera a mixed bag brewer. Nothing I’ve had outstanding, nothing really bad.

Mouthfeel? BITTER. The malt comes across as an ever so slight slickness. carbonation is low side medium.

Visually yellow, clarity: tad hazy. Light yellow. Many small bubble head that holds OK.

Again: just a tad more complexity please? Some hop flavor and just a hint more malt might do the trick. As it is it’s a bitter bev that hints there may be some malt way in the background. MAYBE. (Of course there is, but point made.)

3.8

Readers: for now we are using only BA since InBev owns Rate Beer. We may get UnTappd but their site security is done with something that resembles a bad version of Candy Crush!

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Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”

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Beer Profile: Mission’s Dark Seas Imperial Stout

Profiled by Ken Carman

90 BA, 3.9 UnTappd

I literally copied and pasted this one then altered some of it. Same problem with one added and a little better hop-wise: not much. Better, but marginally so. Higher alcohols and too much bitter screwed the pooch.(Poor pooch. So much molestation.) I must admit: I’m old school. To me this is too much like a very, very dark double IPA. But it was submitted as an Imperial Stout. Making hops this big of a focus distracts from the darker malt deliciousness/feast that is an RIS. Yes, you have to increase the hops for balance. But if I want “hoppy” I would go an Imperial DPA.

This is my second fav style and they screwed this one up too.

Appearance: no head. No glass coat. Clarity: why even discuss it in an RIS? The excess bitter is a distraction from what should be adark malt feast.

The mouthfeel higher abv harsh and harsh bitter.

Although I prefer the more sweet versions of old, and the astringency is annoying for me;

3.8

Readers: for now we are using only BA since InBev owns Rate Beer. We may get UnTappd but their site security is done with something that resembles a bad version of Candy Crush!

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Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”

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______________________________Beer HERE

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A Beer Judge’s Diary- Of Stipends and Big Awards

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 It seems to be the latest rage: paying judges for judging. OK, let’s be beer judging-correct, “stipends.” Oh, I’m not saying it’s absolutely new by any means, but I have seen a rather large increase.
 I understand, I have been tempted myself with my competition: The Old Forge BIG Beer and Odd Ale Competition. OFBB is in the middle of nowhere and there are no local homebrew clubs. Getting judges is tough. Hell, getting entries is an adventure.
 But I have seen the result of stipends and I’m not convinced they are that effective. And I have every reason to say otherwise. I love judging, but I have yet to let a stipend influence me if I really didn’t want to go somewhere. The Can Can Awards in Franklin, TN offers decent stipend but, to be honest, I’m no fan of the judging sheet they use that reminds me more of a multiple guess high school pop quiz than a judging sheet. It seems designed by someone who thinks every aroma, every flavor, is sensed exactly the same way by every judge. So, naturally if this was all about just me, I’d avoid Can Can, despite the stipend. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary- Of Stipends and Big Awards”

Brew Biz: Werts and All (Our VA Trip)


The Topic: A Brief Mention of 2 Worthy VA Breweries

 Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Salt City, Clarksville Carboys and Music City Homebrewers, who has been writing on beer-related topics and interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast, for over 15 years.

Written by Ken Carman

 This is going to basically be a quick commentary and contrast between two Waynesboro and Charlottesville

Taps at 7 Arrows
breweries. We had to go to a wedding and reviewing breweries wasn’t part of the agenda. But we can’t help ourselves.
 The first one we kind of stumbled into: 7 Arrows in Waynesboro area. When we got off for our exit Millie saw the sign and, after reporting in to the motel, I promised to go back.
 Out in the country, west of Waynesboro, we tried several brews, mostly via sample but also 3 pints between the two of us. The barleywine, to both of us, was way over hopped. We both understand guidelines have been adjusted to increase hopping on barleywines over the years, but we both agree if we wanted that many hops we’d do an IPA our a DIPA. The beer menu said it was Cascade hops, if I remember right, but most of what we got was bitter. In fact, considering the malt profile, maybe Imperial Black IPA might be more like what this was? OK, that doesn’t exist in the guidelines… yet. But it did seem more like a higher abv Black IPA than a barleywine. Continue reading “Brew Biz: Werts and All (Our VA Trip)”

Beer Profile: Mission’s Shipwrecked Barleywine

Profiled by Ken Carman

83 BA, 3.7 UnTappd

I must admit: I’m old school. To me this is too much like a double IPA. But it was submitted as a Barleywine, the cans even said that. Oh, I understand: the newer BJCP guidelines over the years have upped the hop level in barleywines, making me miss the maltier, sweet barleywines; like I’ll Have What the Gentleman on the Floor is Having. Making hops a bigger focus in barleywines to me is a mistake. Yes, you have to increase the hops for balance. But if I want “hoppy” I would go DPA. If you want to make a distinction let’s talk East Coast/West. DON’T %$#@ with my beloved barleywines!

Appearance: longstanding big pillow head with a few small bubbles. Great glass coat. A slightly dark yellow with relatively good clarity. Bitter approaches a little too much astringency.

Nose: hint of caramel malt, more pale and hops. A sweet orange-ish and zest-like sense behind that.

The mouthfeel is caramel and slight fresh hop-like sense under the very dominant bitter side to the hops. A tad more bitter than caramel. More caramel malty than most barleywines these days. Hop bitter lingers, fruity orange-ish tangerine mix fades fast, obviously hop driven. More early additions would have helped hop perceptions, less late. The bitter becomes annoyingly astringent after a while. I’d enjoy one glass but not go back for a second. And if I like barleywine I always go back for a second! Higher abv be damned.

Although I prefer the more sweet versions of old, and the astringency is annoying for me; especially in this style, I feel this is well crafted and enjoyable. I would have given it a 4.2 if it had been an Imperial/Double IPA, but even for the newer Guidelines over the years I feel it just a tad overboard. As far as Imperial I understand my comments are a matter of taste. But I stand by my Barleywine concerns. Even if hops should be the focus, this is DIPA focus.

NOTE: Only after I wrote this did I discover the beer sites list it as a DIPA. Not sure what happened here.

3.8

Readers: for now we are using only BA since InBev owns Rate Beer. We may get UnTappd but their site security is done with something that resembles a bad version of Candy Crush!

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Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”

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______________________________Beer HERE

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A Beer Judge’s Diary: Can Can II

Peter Kiley from Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta judging entries

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 Once again hosted by the marvelous Nathan Baker, this year’s Can Can was, and is, everything that it was last year, only better. This is a competition offering more professional judging than some I’ve been to: BJCP, Cicerones and pro-brewers judging beer brewed by other pro-brewers who can their beer. It’s a big job.
⁦Nathan opens up his house in the Franklin Westhaven community for us. Westhaven reminds me of cross between Seaside on the Florida panhandle and The Villages near Orlando. Unlike either Westhaven inner streets are a tad convoluted. Ms. GPS decided to put our Green Honda Element through its paces.
 Sure glad Ms.GPS is patient. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Can Can II”