A Beer Judge’s Diary: The Batman Beer Judge Appears at Fugetaboutit 2015

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Written by Ken Carman for The Professor

bjd-265x300  I knew I was in trouble when I got the E-mail that claimed, “I know you like high gravity,” so I wasn’t surprised when the morning was filled with Belgian Strongs. Hey, it’s what I do. Who’s da man who started an all high gravity competition and used to be one of the biggest suppliers for Big Bob’s Barley Wine Bash in Pensacola Beach, Florida?
 This edition of A Beer Judge’s Diary will be a little different. If I repeat a competition I try to mix things up a tad. This will be more about the beer, my method of judging, stewards and my fellow judge… since Jake Evers and I partnered for the day.
 Jake and I patiently worked through every entry we judged. Jake is semi-new to judging and I gave him the option (A) of silence until after (or just before) scoring, or (B) laying out our cards and discussing as we went along. I prefer this with new judges: it’s like teaching someone how to play pinocle or rummy with all the cards out on the table. But instead of learning how to play a game, how to achieve a winning hand, it’s all about putting a great judging team together. When the other judge chooses option “B” I always tell them to stand up for what they believe and I never push for them to agree if they really feel they sense something I don’t, or don’t sense what I do.
  The title of this edition came from a discussion that happened as I started to set up. I put out my modified lantern: non-led with white duct tape to focus down to just the contents of the glass, a special AWOG competition opener that doesn’t bend the cap and several aroma glasses that seal so I can do appearance first and wait to judge that all too easy to escape item: aroma.
DSCN0871   It’s always been an “A” or “B,” thing with me. Either the head fades, or the aroma leaks into the room. Shaking with a palm over a glass gets my hand wet, or spills if not careful. So an aroma glass that seals helps.
 Jake used the aroma glass a lot.
 We worked well together.
  As I set up one judge says, “Boy, you come with all the tools, don’t you?”
  Without even thinking I snapped back, “Yeah, I’m the Batman of beer judges.”
  “You just need the utility belt.” Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: The Batman Beer Judge Appears at Fugetaboutit 2015”

Best of The Northwest 2014: Breakout Breweries Break the Mold

pourFThis time of year – every year for the past six – I’ve compiled my most memorable experiences from travels around the Pacific Northwest – my heart and ‘hood – to come up with those I especially want you to know about. I say this just about every year because just about every year it’s true: This was a real banner year. The creaky Washington paradigm of “Nothin’ but Brits” is beginning to crumble. Oregon and Idaho breweries are not just pushing the envelope as much as ignoring the very existence of an envelope. Good breweries, promising breweries, and some right out of the wrapping paper have become great.

You’re going to read some names, here, that you’ve never heard or read. Two in particular – Tin Dog Brewing of Seattle and Big Block Brewing of Sammamish, Washington – are barely larger than the changing rooms Nordstrom’s. John Julum’s operation at Big Block, especially, is easily the most intelligently conceived, laid-out, and strategized nano-brewery I’ve ever come across. The whole brewery, because of his neighborhood’s CC&Rs, is in his garage! And he routinely has ten or twelve beers on tap, all amazing and all in decent quantities. This level of ingenuity is what sets the NW apart from the rest of the US and 2014 was the year of its full flowering, when breweries like De Garde, in sleepy Tillamook, Oregon, are birthed fully formed and hit the ground absolutely flying.

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