Brew Biz: Werts and All

Written by Ken Carman

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Salt City and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

The Topic: Judging Mead

Last episode of The Brew Biz this beer judge offered up his diary of a competition in Mississippi. In that “episode” I ended up as one of three judges at the Mead table, two of us Certified. There are more than a few judges I have met who feel Meads and Ciders shouldn’t even be in a beer competition. I disagree, but as a brewer of Braggots, I admit I have my own partisan mash tun dipped into the debate. Most judges I know welcome the addition of Ciders/Cysers, Pyments, Hydromels, Melomels, Braggots (Yes!) and Meads. However, most of us are not all that comfortable judging them.

Some of the best ways to educate judges about their duties would be the BJCP test, supplemental reading and studying BJCP testing information provided on site… the order where one should start from having been reversed in that list. Yes, taking the test itself is an “education” of sorts. If for no other reason it can help encourage you to learn more and judge more. The more you judge, the more you learn, and that applies to Mead too.

While this has been an education for me, my regular readers know I have been rather critical of some aspects of the program in the past. While many of these aspects have changed, it’s still been an adventure discovering just how wrong I was, occasionally. And an adventure discovering how right I have been: occasionally. You, the reader, might be the best judge, I suppose. Judging that for myself would be as unfair, and as unethical, as judging my own entry in a competition.

But, more than anything, it has been an “adventure” discovering how helpful the education leading up to the test and, yes, the test itself, are. It helps us focus: better assess all the categories and to judge well, encourage us to judge more frequently.
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