A Beer Judge’s Diary: Is THIS Where Balance and Judging Divide?

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 I know I probably should have published this under Brew Biz or Beer-y Good Story, however it deals with balance. In judging that’s important.
 I understand an NEIPA can have both bitter and fruity aspects to hops. But what’s the point when you already have categories where bitter is important? Other than hazy which can easily be provided without filtering, with incomplete fermentation, what makes it unique, different from an IPA, or a Double?
 To me that should be the second overall focus, higher in the balance.
 Barreled beers. Do you really want that chew wood sensation? The sensation you’re drinking whiskey, not beer? Like any beer; including NEIPA, shouldn’t it be BEER first?
 All of this is VERY subjective: true.
 Should any new style (new to us, probably quite old) get any special treatment because it’s new, or hard to brew? I have judged this way, judged along with masters, grand masters, nationals who push the hard to brew, unique trope. But aren’t we skewing the process when we do that?
 I honor those who can brew well what’s hard to brew, what’s unique. Hey, I’m the one who started the Big and Odd Beer competition in Old Forge, NY. But in the end, isn’t balance in judging more important?
 Scottish. You mean to tell me NO Scottish brewers use a certain kind of malt? OH FOR… PEATED’S SAKE! Of course a few probably do, especially those who brew Scot in the States. Wouldn’t it be better to judge them as what not only fits the style but pleases the palate? Hey, at the table I get a peat-ed malt entry I’d be very tempted to make it #1 if it out shines all. It’s merely a slight variation. Of course if an Irish Stout has almost no color to it that’s a problem. Though I would impressed if it tastes just like an excellent Stout. Like no white stout I’ve had yet has.
 Or am I merely griping about what goes into where “Balance and Judging Divide?”


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 in the 70’s 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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