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. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary- Peach State Brew Off”

From the Bottle Collection: Silverback Gorilla #9

 Without intent, I have collected well over 1,000 beer bottles since the early 70s. When something finally had to be done about the cheap paneling in this old modular, I had a choice: tear down the walls while, oh, so carefully, replacing the often rotted 1X3s; OR, cover them with…

The Bottle Collection.

Written by Ken Carman

 I know, I haven’t written for a while. I have no excuses. And this hasn’t been brewed for quite a while. I’m sure they have plenty of “excuses;” better known as “reasons:” formerly brewed in Dubuque, Iowa, like they went out of business in 2006? This has been on my best of shelf for a long time. Continue reading “From the Bottle Collection: Silverback Gorilla #9”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: 17? When the ‘Logic’ I Use Bites Me in the… Beer Judge!

By Ken Carman
 No, I won’t tell you where I heard this.
 No, I won’t tell you when I heard this.
 No, I won’t tell you who said it.
 And I must ask, is this some change somehow I’ve missed, or just hasn’t reached the many places I judge? I suspect the last.
 This not a commentary on any competition I’ve judged, any fellow judge, or any organizer. These days I find competitions almost always run quite well, and having started two myself: it’s hard work you do for the love of competitions and judging. No, it’s about how someone can find themselves suddenly considering arguments they once dismissed. It’s about how scoring ‘logic’ can spin around and bite someone in the… beer judge. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: 17? When the ‘Logic’ I Use Bites Me in the… Beer Judge!”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: Balance?

By Ken Carman

 Oh, God: if I answer this wrong David Houseman might excommunicate me from the church of the holy beer judges: the BJCP. Would Mike Dixon prematurely desecrate my grave? Gordon Strong stop taking my obscene phone calls? (And he enjoyed them SO much.)
 But I must ask, “Is balance over rated?” Like when the winter slumber-er who hibernates is rudely awaken, don’t bite my digital head off yet… bear… with me.

Courtesy Wide Open Spaces
Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Balance?”

Beer Profile: 2017 Anchor Christmas Ale

Profiled by Ken Carman

I am so disappointed,and not just with this.Last Anchor I got was Foghorn and each and every bottle’s contents were phenol-laced: rubber hose. This quaff might be called phenolic too, but I actually think the balance may be off: ginger and/or clove in a fairly light old ale base that’snot all that “old.”

Not sure aging would help.

I believe it to be ginger and reminds me of ginger ale with a dark color. it could almost be food coloring as much as it contributes to taste. High side medium carbonation with a definite carbonic bite.

Deep tan pillow head, black as hell with some deep red highlights peeking through, this has alight aroma of spices.

We bought a magnum for Christmas and had so much it became somewhat annoying. We usedhalf of it for cooking. We have better quaffs we have brewed ourselves. A simplistic quaff for a season that cries out for fireplace sipping complexity.

3.84 on BA,



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.”


___________________________Beer HERE


A Beer Judge’s Diary: Music City Brew Off

No pictures this time, more just a review of the first competition we judged at, probably 1999. It’s been said and done before in this case. Let’s have a break. Next year back to more traditional coverage, maybe?

By Ken Carman

Millie and I started judging at Music City Brew Off. I think it was 99. I still have the 98 guidelines, somewhere. Since then we’ve judged all over the east coast, due in part to the fact we’re from upstate NY originally, and I spent close to 30 years on tour doing kid shows and educational activities.
I thought this year went well, with at least one problem that seems to be increasing: the unavailability of judges. The easy thing to do is blame other clubs for not helping out, but it goes both ways. Clarksville’s August competition had one MCB judge there: Millie, she who apparently has just enough masochism to her nature that she and I have been together since 74.
When will you ever learn, young lady? Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Music City Brew Off”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: Knickerbocker 2017

Judges hard at work in the brewery. If you see the creep with the long blond hair in the back that’s me with his back facing Ms. Millie.

The winners…
Doug Schmidt 1st Place 23A: Berliner Weisse, Brett the Berliner 5
Michael Chiltern 2nd Place 16C: Tropical Stout, Branko’s Big Chocolate Stout
Forest Crawford 3rd M3B: Spice/Herb/Vegetable Mead Red Bush

For the rest please go to https://reggiebeer.com/ReggieWeb.php?Web=1000234

By Ken Carman

I’ve done this before. We’ve done this before. This is the 3rd Knickerbocker for me, second for Millie. The others were quite a few moons ago, mostly because, living in Tennessee, we’re rarely up here this late in the year; though that will change once we move back.
For many years they were at the Pump House in downtown Albany. To be honest, it was a noisy venue, but it did have some advantages. This year they had decided to have it at a hotel. When competition organizer John Lee showed up for my competition this year; dragging Michael ClarkPywar behind the car on a chain… yeah, that was a joke, Michael drove… I told him they were lucky. Music City Brewer’s first hotel experience didn’t go well. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Knickerbocker 2017”

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

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

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

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”