A Beer Judge’s Diary: The Hop Experience


Written by Ken Carman

beerjudge-258x300 (1) One of the more problematic things to really achieve as a judge is decent palate education. You can’t do it by simply drinking more beer. In fact, unless you drink a lot of defective beer, and styles you’re not fond of, and otherwise great beer that’s considered off style: drinking more may be counter-productive when it comes to educating the palate. An occasional defect session run by your homebrew club is great, except these are flavors, aromas and other parameters you need to be very familiar with; time is not your friend: memory fades, can even change.
 The summer before I took the BJCP test again, every week I would stop by Yankee Spirits in Sturbridge: or wherever my tour took me, and buy a beer. Then I would pollute it with Butter Buds, corn juice from a can of corn, Chloraseptic: anything that might mimic a beer defect. I started with NAs and worked my way up to Russian Imperials and Double IPAs.
 Clubs often have off flavor seminars, or club meetings where polluted beer is served: “polluted” with a defect kit offered by the BJCP containing vials of concentrated defect solution that; if you sniff them straight, really are quite “vile.” Beer could be left out in the sun, beer might be very, very old. You too can drink cardboard beer: yum!
 We do whatever nasty thing we need to do to beer to experience the defects we need to be looking for when judging beer.
 Note: I also recommend sessions, to provide just one example, where Anchor Porter, in a label-less bottle, is served as an American Amber and participants tell everyone why this is, or isn’t, an American Amber, or a Dry Stout, or…
cclogo  A few years ago I brought a case of Sam Adams single hop series: where they took their Latitude 48 and made several versions with only one hop each, to a Music City Brewers meeting for all to try. I think we found it educational… so I was already interested in being able to understand how different hops affect beer. This concept seems to have been filtered into something called The Hop Experience, where homebrewers can take a very simple beer, usually a light beer, and put different hops in it.
 Enter Clarksville Carboys
 Millie and I are members of Music City Brewers, but we live closer to Clarksville than most Davidson County residents: out towards Ashland City. I used to live even closer in Cheatham County part of Joelton and worked for a while in Clarksville. So when we found out there was a homebrew club in Clarksville, Tennessee, we decided to visit occasionally, when we had a chance. Our first visit was about a year ago, and three weeks ago we got to visit again. That’s when James Visger, president, told us about their plan to do The Hop Experience. We’re into beer education, so we couldn’t resist. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: The Hop Experience”

Beer Profile: Barrel Aged Hoppin Frog Christmas Ale #2


Profiled by Ken Carman for professorgoodales.net

Beer-Profile1-258x300Nose: oak, a little sweet. Mouthfeel sweet with some oak clinging to the roof of the mouth. Bourbon in still in the mix, but lighter. A little bourbon cling, but not as dominant. In #1 barrel aged the spices were obvious, though background. In number two I think the oak, with the bourbon almost perfectly counter balanced, made the spices kind of disappear.

Once again brown with great highlights, clarity good and head lingers: pillow. SRM high 20s.

I did find spices in the nose, but slight and hard to perceive. Oak is stronger, bourbon behind that. Mouthfeel is just a little more bourbon focused: sweet coats the back of the mouth. Medium body, hint of caramelization, good clarity with brown/ruby highlights. Soured orange sense, which I’m sure is the bourbon, on the palate.

What happened here is balance is actually working against us. With the bourbon just a hint on top, but the rest firmly beneath, it was superb. With the bourbon and the oak mostly in balance the spices seem less important, the oak and bourbon arguing so loudly on the palate the spices almost might as well not be there.

A very pleasing quaff, but, honestly, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first, though it’s still is very, very good.

I wasn’t tempted at all to give this a 5 out of 5, but it still deserves 4. Maybe even 4.5, though I do feel the balance is so even the flavors are battling for attention a bit too much.


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 “prefecto.”