A Beer Judge’s Diary: Knickerbocker 2017

Judges hard at work in the brewery. If you see the creep with the long blond hair in the back that’s me with his back facing Ms. Millie.

The winners…
Doug Schmidt 1st Place 23A: Berliner Weisse, Brett the Berliner 5
Michael Chiltern 2nd Place 16C: Tropical Stout, Branko’s Big Chocolate Stout
Forest Crawford 3rd M3B: Spice/Herb/Vegetable Mead Red Bush

For the rest please go to https://reggiebeer.com/ReggieWeb.php?Web=1000234

By Ken Carman

I’ve done this before. We’ve done this before. This is the 3rd Knickerbocker for me, second for Millie. The others were quite a few moons ago, mostly because, living in Tennessee, we’re rarely up here this late in the year; though that will change once we move back.
For many years they were at the Pump House in downtown Albany. To be honest, it was a noisy venue, but it did have some advantages. This year they had decided to have it at a hotel. When competition organizer John Lee showed up for my competition this year; dragging Michael ClarkPywar behind the car on a chain… yeah, that was a joke, Michael drove… I told him they were lucky. Music City Brewer’s first hotel experience didn’t go well.
I spoke too soon. Apparently, the hotel that shall not be named thought we were buying beer from them and then judging it. They refused to allow us to bring entries in. Usually, such things happen because distributors raise hell or their lawyers; acting as if they own all beer, even if it can’t be sold and so, therefore, doesn’t compete with their clientele at all, or them. Plus I tend to find such things usually involve serious misinterpretations of laws and the intent behind these laws and regulations.
So we ended up at Artisanal Brewing in Saratoga, and except some stairs issues, it worked well.
Ms. GPS brought me there from my sister-in-law’s Johnstown abode by one of the most convoluted routes ever. I swear I passed by Santa, Satan, trolls under bridges and Washington’s ghost. Some of that is almost true: Santa’s Workshop is somewhere in the North Country, there is a 1700s restaurant I’ve eaten at North of Artisanal and while there were few bridges… I did pass through a lot of woodlands. It was so convoluted I warned Millie about it the next morning.
Greg Mobley; who helped run all the Knickerbockers I’ve judged at, talked to the judges and I like the fact he told them to fill out the aroma and such completely because that’s what’s expected of judges: people pay good money and take serious time entering competitions. Feedback, not any award, is the best reason to enter, and why we judge, in my opinion. I did remind one judge I was judging with to say a little more when I saw just a mere sentence or two on his sheet under one portion of the score sheet.
I judged all three flights, Millie could only do one because we had puppy back in Johnstown to watch over.

Artisanal’s front porch. Judges judge a lot of beer then bounce around in… Nah,: I’m kidding.This is a picture from another event at Artisanal.

To be honest, I’m not sure of all the categories, but I did judge Pale, Alt, Vienna… I think, at best, there were one or two times our scores seriously varied. Usually, I find this happens when one judge has something about an entry he simply can’t let pass into good, excellent or “pure barf” territory. With me it’s that rubber hose like phenol, what others refer to as Band-Aid.
No, there’s no such score range that qualifies as “pure barf.” I made it up. On a very rare occasion, I ALMOST wish there were, but I’ve judged enough to respect the more positive feedback approach. No more “dirty diaper” beer comments like in the late 90s when I judged for the first 2nd or 3rd time. I wasn’t BJCP at the time. Entries have, overall, gotten so much better over the years.
Still, on that very a rare occasion I wish…

The Honorable John Lee

Surprise! I got to do Big BOS. It was interesting and fun to cross judging swords, especially with Grand Master Judy Pardee who was the first female BJCP Grand Master. I was honored.
If I remember right I was told there were well over 300 entries. A very well run competition and one of the most obvious indications is the ability to handle major snafus, like nameless hotels and computer crashes.John Lee is a great organizer and Greg Mobley did an equally good job working with judges. It’s a long-standing competition that has been run for 21 years. We recommend Knickerbocker to judges, stewards, and brewers everywhere.

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 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 early 70s. Thus the adventure began.

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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