A Beer Judge’s Diary: Tasting Test

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 Years ago Millie, my wife, was the first of the two of us to judge with a BJCP Master: Judy. I won’t offer her last name because my point here is not to drag anyone into this unwillingly. Judy was one of the first BJCP Masters and Millie told me she said if she had to take the test today she’s not sure if she’d do as well. There’s little arguing that the test has gotten harder, the style guidelines more complex. Somewhere I have one of the Guidelines from the 90s. It’s a short pamphlet less than half the width and less than half the depth of the current one, the categories quite simple in comparison, the descriptions the same.
 Yes, it’s all gotten more complex, for obvious reasons. The tasting test: now given separate up to Certified, should be about proving your judging abilities, or if already ranked your judging skills. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Tasting Test”

Deschutes Brewery: Bravely Done…Again!


By Stephen Body
The people you see in the photo above…Are these the staff of the best brewery in America?

If you read this thing, you know that I frequently scoff at the whole idea of “Best“. All those lists of “America’s Best IPA“, “Best Breweries“, “Best Beers“, all, to be diplomatic about it, a load of brainless crap. Why? Because they are NEVER – EVER! – anything but a judging of what’s around on one particular day or whatever breweries, beers, IPAs, etc., that the author or panel of “experts” knows of…and nobody – NO-freakin’-body – knows every brewery, every beer, every IPA in their own region, much less the entire country.

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STONE BREWING BERLIN: A ROCKY LANDING RIGHTED?

Written by Franz Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

I headed out to Stone Brewing’s Berlin outpost in Mariendorf with less than great expectations. Stone’s arrival in Berlin had been anything but auspicious. During a press conference in 2014, co-owner Greg Koch presided over the destruction of a pallet of main-stream German beers crushed with a rock dropped from a forklift. The symbolism was lost on no one, and the exercise in cultural tone-deafness did little to endear Stone to the German drinking public beyond the craft beer converts in the crowd.

Koch came to have misgivings about this public display of arrogance, stating in an interview with Nina Anika Klotz of Hopfenhelden that it wasn’t a performance he was keen on repeating. He acknowledged that the stunt “was not meant as an insult toward beer.” His target all along, he claimed, was not the German brewing tradition per se, but rather the industrially produced beer lining the shelves of German discount supermarkets like Rewe and Lidl — beer, he emphasized, that was undermining the sterling reputation of German brewing.

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Weed killer in your wine and beer? That’s what a new U.S. PIRG study found

A new report by the public-interest advocacy group U.S. PIRG reveals that tests of five wines and 15 beers, including organic ones, found traces of the controversial weed killer glyphosate in 19 out of the 20.

They include brands like Coors Light, Miller Lite, Budweiser, Corona, Heineken, Guinness, Stella Artois and Samuel Adams.

“The levels of glyphosate we found are not necessarily dangerous, but are still concerning given the potential health risks,” U.S. PIRG said.

Glyphosate, best known as an ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is a probable human carcinogen, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization.

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Flagship February/Iron Horse “Irish Death” (WTF is this beer?!?)


By Stephen Body
Iron Horse Brewery, located in painfully windy Ellensburg, Washington, brews what is arguably (it keeps winning STATE-WIDE crowd-sourced “best of” contests, pretty much every year) the most undefinable, odd, compelling beer made in the Pacific Northwest. Rivaled only by Sound Brewery’s “Monk’s Indiscretion” for inspired eccentricity, Iron Horse “Quilter’s Irish Death” chuckles – darkly – at the whole idea of “category”. Is it a Stout? Nope, although it may be a bit Stout-ISH. Is it a Wee Heavy. Getting colder? Is it an Irish Dry Stout? Again, NO. It’s a tad lighter in weight and texture than any of those but at 7.8% ABV, it’ll work just fine as a Winter Warmer. So…is it one? NO.

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Judge Counter Points: New Belgium Tripel

Our judges: Jerry Wood, Certified BJCP and Ken Carman, Certified BJCP

  Let’s beginning, as us judges so often do, with AROMA. I noticed Jerry commented on a sweet aroma. I did not comment on sweetness either way even though I frequently do: Jerry did and I should have. Jerry found it very sweet in the aroma: honey-like, and slightly sweet in flavor. I don’t remember it that way: now I wish I had that second bottle Millie and I finished off to reassess for my own sake.
 This is why I write notes to myself on top of judging sheet when I’m practicing filling them out. I try to catch what I missed once I review what I did.
  Jerry found a mild solvent sense (“almost”) and perfume-y hop. We agreed on perfume-y but I didn’t get any sense of solvent. In fact I found the alcohol level a tad low. More on this in a moment.
 I also identified that the hops could be contributing to the pepper sense, which to me was overwhelming in the balance. Indeed my major issue was balance. We both had an 8 for AROMA. Continue reading “Judge Counter Points: New Belgium Tripel”

Flagship February/Mac & Jack’s: #1 with a Bullet


By Stephen Body
FLAGSHIP FEBRUARY…sounds like just another contrived event, made up to make somebody some quick cash, doesn’t it?

You could not be more wrong.

Flag February was conceived by two guys named Jay R. Brooks and Stephen Beaumont and it addresses one of the things about craft beer and our buzz-seeking culture that has always concerned me the most. We as beer fans are kinda, well, trendy. I’m no better about this than anybody else. New beers get me all atwitter, especially if the “new” part is some emerging style or variation or technical approach that breaks some new ground.

But the downside of that is that true greatness in craft brewing – those beers that set a new milepost and help breweries make their mark in the craft beer culture – often get lost in our communal rush after Buzz and Novelty and staying Hip and Current.

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Global Craft Beer on a Sea of IPA: sameness masquerading as difference?

Written by Franz D. Hofer for A Tempest in a Tankard

Franz Hofer
American-style IPA, that beloved child of the craft beer renaissance, has left the building. In recent years, IPA has become detached from its local context on the West Coast of the United States to emerge as a globalized signifier of everything exciting and novel about beer and tastes in beer. IPA in all its subsequent iterations has become so dominant that it now does double duty as an agent for craft beer in general, itself a stylized approach to the production and consumption of beer. This free-floating global style has since reterritorialized itself in local contexts the world over, sometimes threatening to displace home-grown local styles that had become mundane and less desirable through their familiarity. Local breweries and taprooms have sprung up on every urban corner and every countryside crossroad serving this global style in a local setting, introducing its enthusiastic patrons to an exciting new taste and powerful elixir.

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Rodenbach and Dogfish Head to Produce First Collaboration in Famed Belgian Brewery’s History


Brouwerij Rodenbach, the highly regarded Belgian brewing company founded in West Flanders in 1821 and known for its tart, oak-aged ales, is doing something unprecedented. For the first time in its nearly 200-year history, Rodenbach will produce a beer in partnership with another brewery. The recipe hasn’t been chosen yet, the label design is no more than a twinkle in an artist’s eye, and the sour ale won’t appear on shelves until 2020, but one key detail has already been decided: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is the other half of the collaboration.

“The goal is to bring as much taste and flavor as possible in a sessionable beer,” explains Rudi Ghequire, Rodenbach’s master brewer. “Beer is more than hops and only hops.”

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