A Beer Judge’s Diary: Can Can II

Peter Kiley from Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta judging entries

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 Once again hosted by the marvelous Nathan Baker, this year’s Can Can was, and is, everything that it was last year, only better. This is a competition offering more professional judging than some I’ve been to: BJCP, Cicerones and pro-brewers judging beer brewed by other pro-brewers who can their beer. It’s a big job.
⁦Nathan opens up his house in the Franklin Westhaven community for us. Westhaven reminds me of cross between Seaside on the Florida panhandle and The Villages near Orlando. Unlike either Westhaven inner streets are a tad convoluted. Ms. GPS decided to put our Green Honda Element through its paces.
 Sure glad Ms.GPS is patient.
 Sure glad she doesn’t mind a little cursing.
 We got there around 9:15 and started the first flight at 10 which was American Lagers. There was a note about “Pre-Prohibition” which someone told us it was both entries, but it was just one. I know I would have scored them both the same anyway, and my judging partner agreed he would have too.
The “marvelous Nathan Baker.”
⁦The rest of that flight went better.
 The next flight was dominated by what was called Golden Blonde… a tad confusing. They have to collapse categories and take styles in as defined by the breweries and also consider standard styles. We ended with 2 IPAs and 2 Porters. Yes, they bring you two at a time. I kept having to resist reaching for the wrong one. I think it helps me with being more aware as I judge, but I wouldn’t want to try it at my own competition where we have novice judges too.
 Lunchtime! We went Mexican with bell pepper chicken and bell beef? Offerings, plus chips, refried beans, usual sauces.
 Afternoon: they threw me together with some judge named Millie Carman. No idea who she is, though she has been stalking me for more than 40 years. (Beatings will follow after she reads this.) We went back into Porters and polished off the flight with what was called German Hefe. (BJCP now lists this as Weissbier.)
⁦Dinner! Barbecue and great pork chop-like pieces. All the sauces one might want. Potato salad and other pleasures, then home to a soaked collie puppy on our porch. Oh, he has dry places, but he’s still learning.
 Early Sunday back to Franklin with two flights ahead of us. I did pale, stout and a few odd brews.
  We have been using the AHA form I’m not fond of. Nate said the judges, overall preferred it.
⁦ Can Can offers different “styles” to be judged via a handout. These are decided by looking at what the breweries entered last year and this year. Fellow judges found mixing those with BJCP Guidelines was best. Sometimes it could be confusing, like Golden Blond. There’s a few Golden styles but they’re not the same as Blonde. We’d wing it.
 Having judged since 99 winging it isn’t the best way I judge, but doable for sure.

Comfy garage with plenty of snacks and food

 About two weeks later we returned… late. The software gave us Eastern time because we received the E when we had been in the Adirondacks, upstate NY. So I had to judge with annoying… shhh! She’s reading this! …with my lovely wife and faithful companion Millie. WHEW! That was close.
 To be honest I should have taken notes: not sure about the rest of the day. Then we came back on Tuesday to do IPAs and one Amber. Basically were polishing off what was left.
 This year went even smoother than 2016.
 Can Can is a different world in some ways. Entry fees are higher and the entrants are professionals. But I still feel blind judging and feedback are important, no matter who enters, and judges can help improve beer for all.
 So I guess, for now: fini’. On to 2018. The awards are in the Can… Can… again.

Judges hard at work.

Ken A Beer Judge’s Diary is one of many columns by Ken Carman: Certified BJCP beer judge, homebrewer since 1979 and seeker of both simple and complex quaffs who, until the very early 70s, thought he didn’t care all that much for beer. Then he discovered brews beyond the standard fare’ available on the east coast.

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