A Beer Judge’s Diary: Savannah

Picture judging glasses courtesy Sandy Cockerham
By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 I have headed a few mead tables. The fact I have headed every mead table I’ve been at up until now says something important: we need more actual mead judges in the BJCP. In fact at the first few I headed, well over ten years ago; closer to twenty, I got the sense mead was, like Harry Potter, the poor stepchild of BJCP world: living under the stairs; only because the favored son (beer) was the star of the family. Not cruel, as in Harry Potter, more an anomaly in an organization started around beer.
 There were reasons for so few mead judges. Back in the legacy days you had to find a sit down write test for beer that included tasting. I drove to Knoxville for my second legacy test out of Nashville, beer-wise. Tests local enough to drive to were tough to find, sometimes. Mead was worse. Has that improved? Yes. But even now finding a mead tasting test in the southeast is tough. Thankfully, like beer, they went online with the questions. Tasting, so far, has been long drive to out of Nashville, and there are so few… in comparison.
 I certainly would love to give mead tests, but first I need endorsement, obviously.
 As I started to study again for an upcoming test, I decided judging a mead only competition might be helpful. I chose Domras because I entered a Dunkelwiezen Braggot a while back and the comments I got back were quite interesting and helpful. The fact it did well was secondary, at best. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Savannah”

Bend, The Rules: America’s Stylistically Liberated Beer City

Written by Stephen Body

Bend, Oregon…no matter what anyone says, my vote for the mythical (and mostly bogus) title of “Beer City USA” – besides the presumptive winner, San Diego – would have to go to this explosive brewing mecca, out there in the arid middle of Oregon’s High Desert. It is certainly, even including SD, the most per capita great brewery nexus in the country and the only real challenger is the far more tiny Hood River, Oregon, about 150 miles up Oregon Route 97. One quick scan of the breweries located in Bend makes the case eloquently…

Deschutes Brewery

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Brew Files – Episode 80 – Chill Out Or Don’t


The Brew is Out There!

Since travelling to Australia last year and witnessing the ubiquity of no chill brewing, Drew decided to get over his objections and see if you really can skip the chilling step when brewing at a home level. In this episode Denny and Drew breakdown the benefits, the objections and Drew’s experiences brewing the no chill way.

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Brew Biz: Werts and All- Trends


Zima. According to Wiki it was brought back in 2017 and 2018 but, “It did not return in 2019.”

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Clarksville Carboys and Music City Homebrewers, who has been writing on beer-related topics and interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast, for over 20 years.

           The TopicTrends: The Good, the Bad, the Yucky

 Remember Zima? Don’t you wish you could forget? Some dare called it a MALT beverage.
 There have been all kinds of trends over the years. I suppose Billy Beer might have been called “a trend.” When they vended out the brewing for Billy Beer the name became a curse. But it really depended on who brewed it. For the time the one brewed by FX Matt out of Utica, NY, was actually sort of an IPA for its time. Not bad. Not incredible, but better than a lot of the Bud clones that dominated the market in the mid 70s. Who knows, if some of the others had been better maybe the hop trend might have had an earlier start.
 But I’m really writing about trends that have homebrewer and pro-brewers going hop crazy, hazy hop crazy, sour crazy, brett crazy (While calling it all sour: really?) and lactobacillus crazy. (The short list.)
 Lacto is a good example of one of the negative sides to trends. Many I have had aren’t really definable by any style, except a non-existent one called “lacto soup.” Continue reading “Brew Biz: Werts and All- Trends”

A New Year with New Beer

Denny is on the right

Happy New Year! It’s time for a whole new bevy of beers and a world of new brews to be. In this episode, we talk our recent brewing efforts and new toys and new news and then we talk to Stephen J Porr of BrewTube fame about the SJPorr Challenge, a unique and logistically challenging homebrew competition that’s prepping for it’s next season!
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Video Tip: Thinking of Barrels as an Ingredient


Cory King, owner and brewer at Side Project, talks about formulating a barrel-aged imperial stout recipe with the barrel in mind, and being patient enough to allow the beer and barrel character to meld.

Side Project Brewing in St. Louis, Missouri, has made its name on barrel-aging and blending—not only for its widely acclaimed range of mixed-fermentation beers, but also for decadently rich imperial stouts such as Derivation and Beer: Barrel: Time.

In the full 86-minute video, Founder/Brewer Cory King digs into deep technical detail on how Side Project brews, ferments, ages, and blends those huge barrel-aged stouts. Among other topics, he covers:

water and the importance of mash pH
grain selection for body and character, from oats to Carafa
the challenges of mashing very high-gravity beers
long boils and long aging
choosing (or not choosing) adjuncts

And much more.

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Replanting the Seeds of Brewing


Craft-beer pioneers Kim Jordan and Carol Stoudt have led women back into the brewhouse after an absence lasting several centuries. Here Tara Nurin spotlights some of the others who have helped along the way.

“How Women Brewsters Saved the World,” we explored the hidden-in-plain-sight history of women and beer from prehistoric times up through Prohibition. Here we bring this history of women’s contributions up to present times, spotlighting some of the women who have helped the modern craft-brewing revolution take root.

February 1986, Park City, Utah

Homebrewer Mellie Pullman is après-skiing at a condo being sold by a cousin’s friend when she spots a business plan lying open on a table. Nosy by her own admission, she picks it up and starts reading.

“It was a plan for a brewery,” she says. “I saw there was a position for a manager and I thought, ‘I can do that.’”

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Episode 108 – The Questions Begin


Another 12 episodes down, so it’s time for your questions! We tackle 25 of your questions that cover process, ingredients hops, yeast, weird things and Denny’s favorite Karoake song! Sit back – we’re getting quizzical!
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Producing a Good Mead Scoresheet


By Andrew Luberto

As anyone who has ever done so can tell you, entering a home mead into a competition takes some serious time and a fair amount of money.  So it can be pretty disappointing when you get a scoresheet back that doesn’t provide a good evaluation of your product. The components of any scoresheet, whether its beer, mead, or cider generally all follow the same basic structure of descriptive evaluation of the product, non-biased judging, and helpful feedback. However, where a scoresheet may fall short can land in a few broad categories that could include: misevaluating the mead because of an unfamiliarity with ingredients or process; not understanding the product and what should be perceived; sparsely filling out or an incomplete sheet or; not having a good grasp on evaluating mead in general.  For more on properly evaluating mead check out this previous newsletter article. Luckily mead evaluation has vastly improved from the days when some just expected to taste a dominant raw honey sweet character. That being said, there’s always room for improvement! So with that in mind, here are some thoughts from both experienced judges and entrants on what makes up a quality scoresheet.

What are entrants looking for?

Continue reading “Producing a Good Mead Scoresheet”