A Beer Judge’s Diary: Return to Atlanta; Taste Test, Take 2B

It’s mystery beer time!

 I don’t think of myself as some guru or know-it-all answer
By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
guy. A lot of my experience comes from making mistakes and running into dead ends. And I have made a LOT of mistakes. And as this edition of A Beer Judge’s Diary will show I have been greeted by some dead ends.
 I must admit I agree with Andrew Luberto’s comment in his excellent youtube interview that those who score very well to begin with may be missing something. Trial, error and trying again can make better judges, just like it makes better songwriters, better actors, better on air personalities and better almost anything in life. Those additions to “beer judge” are mine, not his, but strike me as truth. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Return to Atlanta; Taste Test, Take 2B”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: Return to Atlanta; Taste Test, Take 2


 The first edition will be an overview of that day, Take 2B gets to specifics that might help potential judges before they take the tasting test.

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 If I were to pass on a warning to those who haven’t taken it yet it would be, “Use the few minutes you have per beer well, otherwise time will be your enemy.” 15 minutes per beer: try practicing to get it down to 10 or 12. That’s per completed sheet.
 Unlike my last column on this topic this is not going to be about my score at all, or how I did. Enough of that: whatever the score is it is. Besides, I don’t know the score yet and most likely won’t for up to six months, maybe more. That’s OK. As I told Phil Farrell it’s not about getting a better rank, and only a little about a better score. More than anything it’s about the fact every time I take the test I learn a lot through intense study, including how I know less than I think I do. Even the study involved is a humbling experience, not to mention the review after the test. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Return to Atlanta; Taste Test, Take 2”

Beer Profile: Lagunitas Dark Sour Swan

Profiled by Ken Carman

Low side medium carbonation that approaches just medium. Low side medium body. No warmth. No creaminess. No astringency.

Aroma: grape like, concord to be specific. No hops noticed, debittered slightly darker malts-like sense way in background. Very fruity sense, again concord grape.

Visually about 31 srm almost no head dark red: almost burgundy. Deep orange almost red highlights under light. For this dark good clarity. Pours as a big head slight off white with slight purplish highlights. A lot of small to tiny bubbles. Fades very, very fast.

Finishes slightly dry with a concord grape-like aftertaste. Medium body, slight tart finish too. No hops noted except maybe slightest bitter that is also grape skin tannin-like. Yet there is also the slightest fruit sweet behind the dry.

Immensely enjoyable I would sip this night after night: buy a six and maybe one after that. Not all that sour: just a hint with the tart. The tart is supportive, not dominate. Concord grape sense dominates. Could use hint more malt sense. Describe more as “tart” because that works better than sour.

3.9 BA
3.6 untappd
89 RB/56 style

4.4

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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

A Beer Judge’s Diary: Should We Be Eliminating Styles?

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 Millie and I love to stop by McGuire’s in both Pensacola and Destin, especially years ago when Steve Fried had his barleywine; known as I’ll Have what the Gentleman on the Floor is Having. Long but funny name. It actually had a low enough level of bittering to make it finish somewhat sweet, really no hop flavor and the SRM was at least mid to high 20s. Slight bitter: enough to balance.
 All of which would mean I’d be scoring it lower these days if someone entered something like that. Most likely it wouldn’t win in a barleywine only competition. In the 90s I remember a lot of barelywines were like this; the few brewpubs that served them and the few bottled examples on the shelf. Not all. However the profile has been shifted, from what I remember when I first started judging in the 90s, to reflect the higher hop usage/ibus trend.
 Are we so significantly changing profiles sometimes we eliminate older, still worthy, subcategories? Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Should We Be Eliminating Styles?”

Profile: Ithaca Beer Enigmo

The color is golden amber, the clarity is exceptional and the head is white, uniform and fell modestly to a cap and ring. The mosaic hop is completely under control on the nose and while it hints at orange and shows you some leafy hop greenness too, you cannot smell orange. There is a barely perceptible fruity ester form yeast that tickles the nose like a hint of something sweet. No scent definitions can be applied. Grass. Bread-y with hops making their mark in the body of the beer. A little orange-y tasting but it’s brief and not too overdone as complimentary hop bitter and dryness from perfect attenuation punctuates the moderate carbonation and malty finish. No diacetyl, no dms. I can say no acetyldehyde because I think the fruity ester I was able to perceive is pear like but not sufficient so as to be able to say. There is just a tiny bit of stickiness from hop resin on the tongue as it finishes.

If you have ever had Sunner Kolsch but not too recently as the last batch I had seemed different from my first few, you would have noticed a resiny and substantially bitter hop presence that is not at all fruity. If we say that terroir has to be admitted in order to use local hops in international styles, then this beer meets the style. If you read the guidelines you will note that the style is subject to a not too loose interpretation in that regard. However, they have called it a “Kolsch” instead of a “Kolsch style” ale or beer. This is despite the appellation designation already granted to the Kolsch.

4.1 out of 5. Congratulations Ithaca on a modern yet traditional Kolsch style beer. Their brewing process had to be meticulous.

My score of 4.1 reflects excellence in all five categories but minus a few points for fast falling spots not streaky clinging on the lace which fell just a bit faster than some and was not at all soapy even though it was uniform. Also it reflects the idea that they met the style just a tad bit outside of the flavor parameters with that cheeky point 1 after the 4 and did so with both panache and control.

4.1

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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

Rogue’s Cold Pressed Coffee IPA

Profiled by Ken Carman

I was wondering about this one. So many ways it could go wrong and, once it warmed, that only confirmed my fears. To be honest cold pressed coffee too often tastes like chewing on coffee grounds which this had a hint of to begin with. I thought, “THAT will up my score.” WRONG. As it warmed the cold press turned into chewing on coffee grounds covering the hops, which were more Pale-ish when it comes to balance.

The hops and coffee were perfectly balanced but were too light to start. Once again as it warmed: better. The aroma was the best sense of the quaff. Pale malt way in the background, as one would expect from many IPAs.

Quite the haze to this one which may have been exacerbated by coffee. SRM about 16-17: reddish-dark copper that was becoming brown. Head faded supper fast.

Could have used more carbonation: just a tad. Again coffee may have affected that. Medium body that felt higher than it really was. Carbonation tad prickly.

Once it really warmed the Pale Ale sense that should have been more IPA faded and coffee dominated. They really need to back off on cold pressed coffee and increase hops just a tad: mostly flavor and maybe some high alpha hops for head retention and a tad more bitter. So I couldn’t go to 4.

3.5 at RB
3.9 at BA
3.7 at Untappd

3.8

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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