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. Continue reading “Judge Counter Points: New Belgium Tripel”

Beer Judging Counter Points: Abita Turbo


Our judges: John Lee, Saratoga Springs, NY, Millie Carman, Nashville, TN. Both are BJCP Certified. (Summary by Ken Carman.)

 The similarities here are remarkable. They are 2 points apart on score: John 41, Millie 39. Both had a 3 on Appearance, 16 on Flavor, 4 Mouthfeel, 8 on flavor. The difference was in Aroma: Millie 8, John 10. I (Ken) remember Millie saying she was having a problem catching the aroma.
 Both sensed chocolate and caramel. Millie got nutty and toasty. Only John got coffee and pome fruit, some yeast notes, a little musty and some oxidation. In was interesting that sell by date on John’s bottle was better than Millie’s, but Millie didn’t get oxidation. (Neither did I-Ken) John’s was 1/29/19; ours was 11/27/18. I suspect the difference may be transportation and storage. Abita is a lot closer to Tennessee than Saratoga, NY, area and there may be more stops on the way. Continue reading “Beer Judging Counter Points: Abita Turbo”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: New Judging Forms


2019 OFBB Judging formA

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
  My apologies for the images. Yes, they’re blurry. I also understand the protosheet at the bottom is smaller. I tried to also include another way to access either one which should be more clear. So since there’s an image problem in this column I’ll try to walk you through this.
  I think I first became fascinated with alternate versions of the BJCP judging form when I judged for Amber Waves of Grain in Niagara Falls: one of the best large competitions I’ve ever judged. Most of my regular readers know I like, and have started, small competitions. It’s a personal preference. But I have a LOT of respect for, and still judge, large competitions. Running big competitions is tough and requires a lot of cooperation and volunteers, not to mention location issues, and AWOG is impressive: a lot of thought and steady improvement has gone into AWOG. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: New Judging Forms”

Judge Counterpoints: Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing


 I am hoping to have at least a few editions of this. I already did this under one of my other columns. What I am hoping for here is to display just how different judge palates can be: even day to day and referring to one judge. However most editions will be two BJCP judges, and if other judges wish to join in on this please contact me. You can summarize the differences between the two judges or I can. Different beers will be judged: mostly commercial, however I am open to homebrews. This is raw judging not consensus because the point is missed if we adjust.
 For this edition we chose Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing. Nothing on the can tells us what style IPA it is, but we both agreed New England IPA.
 Millie and I are both Certified. Continue reading “Judge Counterpoints: Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing”

Brew Biz: Werts and All (Hopkinsville Brewing Company)

Image courtesy kentuckynewera.com

Written by Ken Carman

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, 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 20 years.

 We knew this was going to be a brief stop because we were on our way to a Clarksville Carboy’s Christmas gathering. We slipped right by Clarksville, knowing we’d have to back track, because we wanted to check out Hopkinsville Brewing Company.
 Be aware if you use a GPS you may find yourself face to face with some confusing directions due to one way streets Ms. GPS tells you to go down anyway. Could have been an update thing with Mrs. Garmin, but we figured it out.
 Hopkinsville Brewing Company is in a cute little brick building with a small parking lot. This is indeed the definition of a small brewing operation: 2.5 barrels. We’ve seen smaller, like Community in Buffalo a few years ago which was 1.5 at the time. The servers told me they have to brew when they’re not open, not only due to inconvenience but by law. Not surprised: you can see the tightly squeezed together, bright, shiny brewing equipment when you walk in on your right. There really wouldn’t be enough room to brew without the place being closed.
 We had a sample of everything they had on tap at the time: Watermelon Wit, Watermelon Sour, Gose with hibiscus and orange, Smoked Apple Rauch, Cream Ale, Amber, Stout (sweet), IPA. Continue reading “Brew Biz: Werts and All (Hopkinsville Brewing Company)”

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”