Judging American Wild Ales and traditional European Sour Ales can be a tricky business. Being familiar with the wide assortment and possibility of flavor compounds and a keen ability to understand how they work (or don’t work) together takes experience and training. Which can be challenging when suitable commercial examples are hard to come by in some areas. Additionally, homebrewers that utilize a mixed fermentation, Brettanomyces, and/or souring bacteria in their beers can be a fairly passionate group. Producing beers that can sometimes be years in the making with expression as intricate as stained glass. Given all this, judging can sometimes be hard to navigate for the novice or uninitiated. To help with this, the BJCP Communications Team decided to ask a few experts their views on best practice when judging these styles.
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