Beer Judging Counter Points: Abita Turbo

Our judges: John Lee, Saratoga Springs, NY, Millie Carman, Nashville, TN. Both are BJCP Certified. (Summary by Ken Carman.)

 The similarities here are remarkable. They are 2 points apart on score: John 41, Millie 39. Both had a 3 on Appearance, 16 on Flavor, 4 Mouthfeel, 8 on flavor. The difference was in Aroma: Millie 8, John 10. I (Ken) remember Millie saying she was having a problem catching the aroma.
 Both sensed chocolate and caramel. Millie got nutty and toasty. Only John got coffee and pome fruit, some yeast notes, a little musty and some oxidation. In was interesting that sell by date on John’s bottle was better than Millie’s, but Millie didn’t get oxidation. (Neither did I-Ken) John’s was 1/29/19; ours was 11/27/18. I suspect the difference may be transportation and storage. Abita is a lot closer to Tennessee than Saratoga, NY, area and there may be more stops on the way.
 This is all about what they wrote, but since I am working on my tasting score I did a sheet too. And since the differences came down to Flavor and Aroma I thought I’d share mine: it seemed like pumpernickel lightly sprinkled with brown sugar, yet dry-ish. I list this only because it is a counter point. John got toasty too: like Millie, but also bready.
 Millie described the head as tan, John beige, but to be honest I find descriptions of head, and appearance in general, rather subjective. John found it deep brown, Millie amber to brown. The differences were otherwise slight under Appearance.
 Millie commented on a moderately high bitter while John found more of a doughy malt sense with toast. When Millie talked about the malt she got café au’ lait and chocolate. I got the sense Millie thought more balance towards hops, John more towards malt. However since Millie and I agreed American Brown there was some room there style-wise: latitude given because John wasn’t privy to that conversation. To be honest I found it more towards the malt, in fact I remember commenting after she finished judging I thought if there any issue at all it was not quite as American as it could have been, hop wise, yet not quite Brit.
 Mouthfeel-wise John thought moderate carbonation, Millie thought high. Both found creaminess.
 Overall they both found it an “anomaly” or on the edge of the style, for different reasons. Certainly age of the bottle, how it was stored and different sensitivities of palates could account for this.
 As promised I contacted the two judges to show my summary and John mentioned the following via E-mail which may explain the oxidation he sensed and Millie didn’t…

  “I found this on a shelf warm and presume that that’s where it sat since it’s was received at the beer store.”


 What’s interesting here is they both came to practically the same score (I got a 39 too!) but came to it though a few differences in what they were sensing. We all have different talents and way to describe what we are sensing, different things we are sensitive to. If this style was more strictly defined that might have translated into a bigger difference score-wise.

Judge Point/Counter Point examines different brews from the perspective of BJCP judges and possible an occasional pro-brewer without BJCP credentials. Occasionally others with experience may be invited simply to get perspective from outside the more professional brewing and judging community. The reader is reminded that these results are offered as is with no discussion between judges for a consensus that might alter the differences in the two scores. BJCP score sheets are used.

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