A Beer Judge’s Diary: Kansas City Cider There I Went

     Kansas City Bier Company 310 W 79th St, Kansas City, MO.

    “Goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come…”
 -Jerry Leiber / Mike Stoller writers, sung by Wilbert Harrison

NOTE: My own pictures of Jamye Naramore and Michael Wilcox were too blurry to use. Thanks to Jamye and Kansas City Bier Meisters for the pictures of the test and Jamye for her rock climbing picture. Been writing these beer columns for quite a while and FB has made getting pictures so much easier!

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 Something I should have said to Jamye as a joke after she said that no one had flunked the test yet…

 ”Oh, no, now you’ve cursed it!”

 Then, after talking with a fellow judge who was also hoping to expand his usefulness to the Program (BJCP), I felt even better because it seemed we generally agreed. Seemed like we were talking about the same samples, especially the ice cider.
 You may remember last tasting test (mead) episode I was worried about my Long Island Mead exam. I did pass and become a mead judge. Hopefully Kansas City will be known to me from now on as, “Cider Endorsement City.”
 Long drive! Worse than NYC area from the Adirondacks for the mead tasting exam with Andrew Luberto. Why did I drive over 500 miles? Because cider tasting tests are so few. Israel? NOT an option. Seems like there was one in LA or something like that. 500 miles could have easily turned into thousands.
 The journey: Tennessee to Kentucky, to Illinois, to Missouri, to Kansas for a motel, then back to Missouri to Kansas City Bier. I always make sure I can find the place the night before. Glad I did that because that night before the GPS brought me to some suburb. I did discover I had passed the brewery on the way. Wrong street number I guess.

 Potential cider judges, including some weird guy with really long hair who drove over 500 miles to get here.

 All this time was I studying. While not driving I judged cider; including two seconds from Music City Brew Off. In the morning, because I had to leave the room at 11, I bought plain bagels on the way. I prefer them for palate cleansing.
 I had thought maybe I’d take the beer tasting test too while I was there, if they needed an extra chair. There was a beer tasting test following the cider. I do it mostly because I learn so much more about judging each time I try: despite the fact I have been judging since 98 or 97. It becomes like a refresher course combined with discovering what I hadn’t realized before. Cider and mead studying also clues me into new ways to think about, new ways to write my sheets, any time I judge. Plus I work harder on my always hard to read writing.
 While studying in Kansas City Bier’s parking lot I changed my mind about staying for the beer exam. Some guy on his way out of the brewery told me, “Watch it! A lot of catalytic converters have been stolen here.” Almost immediately some guy kept walking by my car while on a cell saying, “I’ll just keep walking by it until you see the car.” I stared right at him. He looked away quickly.
 Sometimes my occasional slight tendency towards paranoia serves me well. I got out. I looked into the semi outside beer garden where he had gone. I stared at him for a minute or 2. Then I waited until almost the last moment to go in because the more I hung around the less likely I’d be stuck having to have a car fixed.
 Kansas City Bier had a seasonal party going on so we were back near the brewery. BIG place! Almost all German beers. Tentative, I tried their cider and their Winter Dunkel Bock because, if I liked it, I wanted to bring some beer home. But some lagers have too much of a sulfur sense for me. Not this one! 6 pack into the car.
 To get back to the test we walked through the brewer and then up some stairs I was told up front to the packaging room. Huge brewery!

                           Courtesy visitkc.com

Jamye Buelke Naramore
 I was greeted by Jamye Naramore as I walked in: tall, blond, a perpetual beatific smile: she was so supportive of all. Michael Wilcox introduced himself then went over the test.
 C1B English, C1D New World Perry, C1A New World Cider, C2C Applewine, C1C French, and C2D Ice Cider. This was fun because I never have had Ice Cider, English or French. Not available in the Nashville area. And, more than anything else, this experience was like judging light lagers. I really don’t care for light lagers; don’t drink them much, so I have no preconceptions. IMO, I do a better job when I don’t care that much. My opinions seem to become were more pure BJCP. As long as my memory was as spot on as possible I should have done well.
 I loved the ice cider I tried here. Both of them: we had a version of it after too.
 Let me add I think this was one of the best managed tests I have been to. I want to thank Kansas City Bier Meisters and all who helped. Great job! And good luck to all.

                    Proctor table. (Hi, Sandy!).

 As always a learning experience. Don’t know if I’ll ever try for National again. Maybe, though I have my doubts I’ll ever get there. Almost 90 in tasting? Nah, if I do it again it will be to help up my game while judging. But I have to admit I do have a better idea of how potential judges are judged now.
 I didn’t stay for the review. I have come to dislike reviewing what we judged because I start to obsess. “Oh, no!! I screwed THAT up too???” Plus, more than 500 miles, arrival estimated at close to 2am? Uh, NO.
 Considering the distance, the chance to leave, and the time I would arrive, I decided; when it came to figuring out when to say goodbye to Kansas City, well, all of the aforementioned was a good sign.
 So I leave you with a good sign!


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 60s. Thus the adventure began.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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