A Beer Judge’s Diary: Constantly Parsing for the Absurdly Perfect

Courtesy media bucket

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 I was studying to get a cider endorsement and started laughing. 3am in the morning, unable to sleep. I was lucky I didn’t wake my wife or she would have beaten me, as I so richly deserve so often. Yes, I’m kidding, but admit talking to myself probably can be damn annoying. She has solved that by talking to herself too.
 Hey, isn’t that marriage is about: going nuts together?
 Anyway, as a former English major I started laughing at what has happened so often. Some of the words we commonly use in judging were under attack by word parsers.
 Someone prefers “finesse” over “nuanced” because they CLAIM nuance is only “small,” less significant. “Finesse” is actually relatively meaningless in judging terms. It’s more metaphorical in nature, unless we’re talking about the cider maker does while pressing apples. The waltz? Watusi? “Nuance” isn’t only “small.” It is perfectly fine. I have had many complex Russian Imperials with bold flavors that are so well spun together they have “nuance.”
 Oh, they also don’t like “complexity” now.
 Hey, Mr. or Ms. Word Police, can we just judge beer without you shifting the stop signs, the street lights, according to, “I just don’t like this usage, personally. WAH!!!”
 In many ways it reminds me of a “shoe of Brian” moment. Those following a religious icon find a shoe and think Brian wants them to “worship the shoe.” Kind of like “do this in memory of me.” Anyone think he meant “exactly like I did it and that’s the point, the only point,” instead of “remember me: what I said, what I taught?”
 Micromanaging word usage is kind of beyond the point. If someone wants to use “finesse;” more metaphorical but I get it. Anyone judging the judges should too. The same with “complex.” Can we lower the demand for the beer-o-logically correct word of the moment and look at the bigger picture? Stop the rather anal “I score by how many adjectives” approach and more what is said? What was addressed?
 I admit I may be screwing myself in this regard. As of late, the few times I have taken a test just to learn more, less to get any better rank, I have started filling in more adjectives too and focusing less on what I am actually SAYING. I wouldn’t doubt if that filters down to my competition scoresheets.
 Isn’t this the wrong approach?

A Beer Judge’s Diary is one of many columns by Ken Carman, Certified BJCP beer judge, mead endorsed, 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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