A Beer Judge’s Diary: Knickerbocker 2018

Judging at Racing City Brewing, Saratoga, NY

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 We started judging Knickerbocker probably sometime in the early 2000s, maybe earlier. But only two of them. Then, many moons later, we came back.
 We really enjoy judging Knickerbocker but, for various reasons, we didn’t for many years. This year we normally wouldn’t have but the only way we could make Millie and my schedule work right was for me to stay up north from May to barely November.
 Aw, shucks, gee whiz, golly willikers, did I have to?
 No, just kidding, I really enjoy being where I partially grew up.
 While some judging took place at Artisanal Brew Works, we didn’t judge there. A lot of the judging was at Racing City Brewing; a new brewery in Saratoga Springs: just a little north east of the city and close to the Northway. Old friends were there, including Judy Pardee; one of the first Grand Masters in the BJCP. It’s amazing how you judge the same competitions and see people again and get that, “Oh, THIS is where I remember you from,” feeling.
 They had 213 entries, 33 judges and 18 stewards judge over two weekends, according to John Lee. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Knickerbocker 2018”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: A Judging Question

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 My apologies to the good people at this competition. Like most competitions they do a great job with what they’re handed year after year: conditions change, locations have to change, as Dave Houseman once told me, “You do what you have to do.”
 I decided not to do an article directly on the competition because I was part of only two flights, two people, one day. But more important there was another story I need to tell; a story that required a certain amount of anonymity.
 I won’t tell you the name of the competition, where it was, when it was and only two names… and just first names. I’d appreciate some answers: like what else I could have done, or most important comments regarding how I handled it.
 First flight: very early afternoon, was Malty German Lagers. I was very happy: I judged with Dawn and she left enthused. She left interested in pursuing judging.  Success!
Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: A Judging Question”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: OFBB 2018

Apologies: my camera messed up in my phone and then the new system ay the library in Old Forge wouldn’t let me download pictures. The following is all I have

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 Old Forge BIG Beer and Odd Ale is a competition Millie and I started, and have supported, since 2014. That makes this year our fifth anniversary. We are also supported by Saranac Brewing in Utica who always does a great job with judge gifts. Thanks Fred Matt and Cara!
 This year we had a smallest number of entries
Brian Josephson
since 14. We only had about 24 or 25 that year. This year we had 29. We shifted it into September and found ourselves in competing with too many other competitions and events. Next year that will change. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: OFBB 2018”

13th Annual Beaver River Beer Tasting

By Ken Carman

 I didn’t take any pictures this year, but my cousin Joyce did, so I decided to edit this and add them in. (Later info came in, Dorothy Joyce’s daughter actually took them. Probably the weird angles had to do with WAY too much beer? A joke.) Hence the second posting. She is standing there with a beer she was serving. I was grateful she walked around and helped. Next year I may shift this event until the Twitchell Lake people come up towards the end of September, or even Columbus Day because we were competing with a chicken dinner this time and next year. That’s an event that I’ve been going to since I was a kid, but it was always on Saturday. I have to ask Mark Franey and do some footwork asking others.

Joyce Lovelace
 I was going to post a picture of Mark Franey, who made it again, but I forgot for some reason the site dumped all pictures last year. He always does a great job and whatever animal he chooses for a hat that day helps too. I think one year a helpful beaver undam-ed a tap.
 There’s a dirty joke there, but I’m NOT going to use it!
 There is one of him here from cousin Joyce’s stash.
 My cousin Joyce, her daughter and husband: Dorothy and John made it again, as well as friends Lisa and Matt. They tented in my yard, Joyce stayed at Norridgewock along with her grandson. Max, JR.

How most of our tasters made it to this quaint railroad town with no roads going to it!

 Mark has many beers including, but not limited to, a light ale with various fruits like cherry. We started out with a simple brown ale. I introduced the London Brown Braggot I brewed in Eagle Bay this year. Immediately everyone who tried it morphed into John, Paul, George and Ringo. Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe showed up but since they were Beatles rejects we fed them to the Stillwater shark with just a light coating of Gray Poupon. I served two beers from Nashville breweries and Marcy, NY. Jitter Juice was a fruit coffee beer. I don’t remember the other two.

Mark in chair.

 One beer from Empire had lavender in it was an unremarkable ale, but the lavender was interesting. One quaffer said he’d never had a good beer by them. I’d rate this as not bad, but not great.
 Last year I listed this affair as the 11th. I think it is actually the 13th.
 It was a good time for all.

A Beer-y Good Story: Hop to Wit

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
Boscos, Nashville
 We joined Music City Brewers around 1998. I can’t remember
Hop deity, Tom
for sure, but I think Tom Vista aka/Hop God, aka/Hop Tyrant, aka/Hop to Wit… yes, I made that last one up, was already a member. Either that or shortly after he joined. We were faced with a loud, boisterous, opinionated hop fanatic whose voice echoed in the acoustically horrendous beer hall known as Boscos. (And they didn’t even use Boscos’ chocolate syrup! SHAME!)
 Coming from a family filled with loud, boisterous, opinionated people I was suitably impressed. Tom doesn’t just add color to the club, he’s worked his garbanzos off in past competitions and provided lots of direction. Like his passion for hops. Continue reading “A Beer-y Good Story: Hop to Wit”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: How I Studied for 6 Months, Drove 600 Miles and STILL Botched the Exam

  I asked to wait for this to be published until after I got the results because I didn’t want there to be even the slightest chance I’d influence scoring. I want to thank the graders. They have a tough job and I, unintentionally, may have made it tougher. (See my grader comments at the end of the column.) I got a 72. Considering my experience I am by no means proud of that, but I do think they did well.
 Do I have a problem with writing about moments in my life that some may think I should be embarrassed about? Apparently, in this case at least, not. And hopefully this might help those who haven’t taken it yet understand more about the tasting portion of the test.

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 This is partially a story of a beer judge sleuth trying to figure out what went wrong. Kudos to my personal Holmes who outsmarted her not as clever as Sherlock husband. Millie set me on the right path: as always. (Sometimes? Maybe? Or “maybe” I should stop digging a hole for myself and get on with the story?)
  I’m BJCP legacy Certified, but I have never been happy with my tasting score. Both times I took it I focused way too much on defects so my final score was in the 60s. On the written exam I did better, obviously.
 When I came home from the Adirondacks in November I found out I had a chance to retake in December, so every day I studied the 2015 Guidelines and judged beer at home. I did this for many reasons. Without the Guidelines my memory is what it is. It’s always been weird what sticks in my head and what doesn’t. And because my writing sucks I wanted to work on that. My elementary teachers passed me because they could see how hard I was trying. I have Gene Wilder’s Blazing Saddles writing hand. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: How I Studied for 6 Months, Drove 600 Miles and STILL Botched the Exam”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: What Do We Mean by “Clean?”

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 I’ve seen the word used so many times in judging. I thought I knew what it means and that includes what, to me, is only one contradiction. I had thought “clean” meant no fermentation by products that stand out and interfere with the malt, the hops and whatever else defines a style that has no yeast funk. The contradiction? Well, it’s the Germans who, as the cliché’ goes, must have everything precise, exact, just so. OK, I know that’s stereotyping but I’m only mentioning the perception, I have known plenty of Germans who are definitely not that way.
 To be clean and be German in this sense seems to be defined as no fruity, funky, significant DMS or buttery/diacetyl-like esters. Unfortunately that often doesn’t seem to be include a light sulfur-sense to some Germans, which I find their much treasured lager yeast sometimes provides. Not all the time, but a lot.
 OK, I admit: like some are sensitive to butter maybe I’m sensitive to sulfur? Possibly because a little butter bothers me not, but I REALLY dislike sulfur? Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: What Do We Mean by “Clean?””

A Beer Judge’s Diary: New Scoresheet Anyone?

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 My regular readers may remember my column on AHA scoresheets. I admit: I wasn’t too kind when it came to the check off judging sheet used mostly at Nationals. My opinion hasn’t changed. Now there’s a new BJCP/AHA score sheet. I like it, but…
 One change they never seem to consider is to scoring: drop the top aroma point value from 12 to at least 10 and maybe add it to mouthfeel?
 Oh, I understand aroma contributes a lot to beer. How many entries have I judged with almost no aroma that otherwise are to style and phenomenal? Yes, the link between the two is substantial, but is it so important that the range be so wide that might punish an otherwise great entry? Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: New Scoresheet Anyone?”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: Erie County Fair Home Brew Competition

This ABJD is even more “diary” in nature than some because the story behind the adventure is as interesting as the event itself, and admittedly I know less event specifics than I should. For a complete list of winners please keep checking Erie County Fair’s Facebook Page. According to a recent post the first in show was Kevin DiTondo of Cheektowaga, NY with his Vienna Lager. Part of his winnings are having his beer brewed at Flying Bison Brewery in Buffalo.

By Ken Carman
  It’s April and I have a situation. I have lots of situations: story of my life, but I’m already veering off course. It’s Ken writing this, right?
 Anywhosie, like some fool writer who makes up his own words, Ken tends to make his own “situations,” and is good one. We have a boat to tow up north and, this year, a car too. The somewhat obscene sounding two ball rule means I can’t do the more dangerous thing and tow both. And for many unmentioned reasons that would extend this tale towards tedious, some of a somewhat self sabotaging nature, I need to tow the boat first.
 On the bright side, with my increasingly buff 64 year old body I’ll be able to fulfill my not so wet dream fantasy of flipping the 90 horse Evinrude upside down, use it like a propeller, and slide across the ice of Stillwater ten miles to Beaver River. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Erie County Fair Home Brew Competition”

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”