I think perhaps one of the first personal lessons that I learned as a judge, and have to keep learning because there are almost an infinite number of variables, is problems I might have when identifying aromas, mouthfeel, etc. Sometimes it just takes more experience, but sometimes it is caused by relying too much on those who insist everyone visualizes smells and other perceptions the same. And when someone doesn’t sense the same the second biggest (perhaps just as important or more) mistake we make is automatically blaming it all on them for having a different perception.
How easy and self aggrandizing is that?
When it comes to judging beer I think one time one of these ongoing lessons was emphasized, reinforced, had to do with the ‘pine’ descriptor. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary- Trusting Your Senses”
I won’t be able to do as complete a job as I would like on this competition because it all came down pretty fast, so I’m adding a brief report on three new Pensacola breweries: more profiles than anything else.
It started out as the trip from hell: blown tire, nuts for the spare didn’t fit quite right, no new tire until the next day and the dog was sick all weekend long. This was the first year for Brewery Battle in the Square: a pro brewer competition somewhat based around Irish beer. We had three categories: Irish Stout, Irish Red and Pilsner. It was done in tandem with a competition of area offerings from chefs. We have no comments about the food competition because we got there late: the BJCP competition was after the food was judged. We did have a Boston Butt from one of the competitors after the competition and it was excellent. The food trucks obviously arrived in a swarm earlier, stinging visitor’s palates with pleasure. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Pensacola Battle of the Brews and New Breweries”
It’s a profile off! I thought these so similar that it would be fun to do this.
Crooked Stave Trellis Buster
For all the promo on the can this is NOT a double taste abv mouthfeel wise, or hop-wise. It IS a well balanced IPA with a very interesting hopping, if you accept the caramel. There is some significant caramel malt-like sense in this. I like it, but not the point. The body is low side medium, but the malt makes it seem higher. Carbonation is medium. The caramel malt sense on this heads out of style, really, as it warms.
I like it, but I would think traditionalists would be annoyed by all the caramel. Aroma is caramel and a very fresh hop sense. The hops are quite fruity in a tangerine/orange way. Reminds me of using those fruits instead of apple for a caramel apple one might get at a carnival. As it warms bitter comes out, but it’s still background. Finishes moderate: not quite sweet, not quite dry.
I started this as a profile for PGA, but decided a commentary might be more appropriate. The Professor not only agreed but is hoping to make this a semi-regular feature with rotating writers.
Barleywines tend to be high abv. Yes, but this is higher alcohol-ish. Not much, but annoyingly so. But more than that I am going to abandon my standard BJCP-type review because, IMO, the 2015 Guidelines contributed to this. I understand that commercial versions of American Barleywine have gotten more hoppy, but this is what you get. It was annoyingly bitter, so much so it was hard to drink. And what the hell is wrong with having a sweeter barleywine? The bitter masks the rich goodness a great barleywine has to offer. Continue reading “Barleywine Commentary: Victory Old Horizontal Barleywine”
Years ago Millie, my wife, was the first of the two of us to judge with a BJCP Master: Judy. I won’t offer her last name because my point here is not to drag anyone into this unwillingly. Judy was one of the first BJCP Masters and Millie told me she said if she had to take the test today she’s not sure if she’d do as well. There’s little arguing that the test has gotten harder, the style guidelines more complex. Somewhere I have one of the Guidelines from the 90s. It’s a short pamphlet less than half the width and less than half the depth of the current one, the categories quite simple in comparison, the descriptions the same.
Yes, it’s all gotten more complex, for obvious reasons. The tasting test: now given separate up to Certified, should be about proving your judging abilities, or if already ranked your judging skills. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Tasting Test”
I headed out to Stone Brewing’s Berlin outpost in Mariendorf with less than great expectations. Stone’s arrival in Berlin had been anything but auspicious. During a press conference in 2014, co-owner Greg Koch presided over the destruction of a pallet of main-stream German beers crushed with a rock dropped from a forklift. The symbolism was lost on no one, and the exercise in cultural tone-deafness did little to endear Stone to the German drinking public beyond the craft beer converts in the crowd.
Koch came to have misgivings about this public display of arrogance, stating in an interview with Nina Anika Klotz of Hopfenhelden that it wasn’t a performance he was keen on repeating. He acknowledged that the stunt “was not meant as an insult toward beer.” His target all along, he claimed, was not the German brewing tradition per se, but rather the industrially produced beer lining the shelves of German discount supermarkets like Rewe and Lidl — beer, he emphasized, that was undermining the sterling reputation of German brewing.
Iron Horse Brewery, located in painfully windy Ellensburg, Washington, brews what is arguably (it keeps winning STATE-WIDE crowd-sourced “best of” contests, pretty much every year) the most undefinable, odd, compelling beer made in the Pacific Northwest. Rivaled only by Sound Brewery’s “Monk’s Indiscretion” for inspired eccentricity, Iron Horse “Quilter’s Irish Death” chuckles – darkly – at the whole idea of “category”. Is it a Stout? Nope, although it may be a bit Stout-ISH. Is it a Wee Heavy. Getting colder? Is it an Irish Dry Stout? Again, NO. It’s a tad lighter in weight and texture than any of those but at 7.8% ABV, it’ll work just fine as a Winter Warmer. So…is it one? NO.
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”
FLAGSHIP FEBRUARY…sounds like just another contrived event, made up to make somebody some quick cash, doesn’t it?
You could not be more wrong.
Flag February was conceived by two guys named Jay R. Brooks and Stephen Beaumont and it addresses one of the things about craft beer and our buzz-seeking culture that has always concerned me the most. We as beer fans are kinda, well, trendy. I’m no better about this than anybody else. New beers get me all atwitter, especially if the “new” part is some emerging style or variation or technical approach that breaks some new ground.
But the downside of that is that true greatness in craft brewing – those beers that set a new milepost and help breweries make their mark in the craft beer culture – often get lost in our communal rush after Buzz and Novelty and staying Hip and Current.