A Beer Judge’s Diary: Cider and UNYHA

Written by Ken Carman

Written by Ken Carman
    It was a busy weekend starting with a rather shoddy Motel 6 where the shoddy wasn’t much of a problem. First morning: on to Studebakers at Dunkirk. We own a 63 Stude truck and I had a book I wanted to hawk, Studebaker Hawk pun somewhat intended.
    Back to the Motel 6 and next morning off to offices at Genesee Brewery to judge for UNYHA: Upstate New York Homebrewer’s Association. Beautiful offices! Even down to the bathrooms.
    Neither of us had ever been to the Genny brewery, so we even stopped the night before. Good porter, the orange and cranberry “sour” was orange and orange peel dominant, light cran. Where’s the malt? If we had wanted something seltzer like we could have ordered that.
    The morning was amber lagers, the afternoon cider. The lager judging was clockwork, as was amber lager mini-BOS.
    I still feel we need more BJCP cider judges, being a freshly minted cider judge last year, having taken the test 12/21.
    Tom Barnes headed one team, I headed the other.
    Anything remarkable? Well, this was the first time I had ever confronted the “mousy” defect in cider. It truly tastes and smells like one would think a mouse nest would taste and smell. Tom offered a trick for those who couldn’t sense it: a hint of baking soda on the tongue then try again. I didn’t need it, but my fellow judge Simone did. But great way to adjust the palate, Tom!
Payson happy to get back in our 63 Studebaker Champ truck.
    If she’s like me she may become sensitive to it now.
    Otherwise, it was the usual intricate sensory fest. Too much acidity? Too little? Tannins? Additions can matter. “Did someone add a lot of grape skins to this?” we ask ourselves once. Mini-BOS went fast. Tom and I generally agree when it comes down such matters. Simone sat in. Beer literally makes her sick so she judges mead and/or cider. A condition I’m glad I don’t have and she wishes she didn’t.
    We all have some condition we wish weren’t that way.
    They wanted us for big BOS, but competitions for us now are far away, we had dog in car, cat at home, so we had to go back to Eagle Bay. Yes. our “walked many times” collie had been in a shaded spot, walked often, but I’m sure he was tired of the wait. As it was we got back at 7pm.
    A very enjoyable learning experience; for every time I judge, or take a test, or do palate training, I learn.


A Beer Judge’s Diary is one of many columns by Ken Carman, Certified BJCP beer judge, endorsed cider and mead judge, homebrewer since 1979 and seeker of both simple and complex quaffs who once upon a time thought he didn’t care all that much for beer. Then he discovered brews beyond the standard fare’ available on the east coast in the 60s. Thus the adventure began.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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