The Topic: A Beer Judge’s Diary, November 10th, 2012
Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Salt City and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.
Written by Ken Carman
Last year we judged at the very first BJCP sanctioned beer competition in Mississippi: Jackson. We wanted to support them for daring to do so since brewing homebrew is illegal in Mississippi. (And Alabama too.) Apparently they enjoyed the small category competition last year so much they went crazy and did a full blown category competition this year. Well, since we like going crazy too, but with a collie whose ears had become infected: packed with an anti-fungal, wax-like substance, we thought it best to limit the crazy time: get up at 12 midnight, drive, and come back at 3 am the next morning.
And I’m calling doing a full blown competition “crazy?” What I just typed alone made me want to yawn.
The “crazies” who created and managed this competition: HomeBrewer’s Association of Middle Mississippi.
Judging was at The Yacht Club in Ridgeland, Mississippi, on the Ross Barnett Reservoir, north of Jackson. Yeah, I know, looks tiny from up high, but at 33,000-acres, 105 miles of shoreline, 16 miles long, widest point: 7 miles: Ross is big.
We got there at about 7:30am, folks started arriving after 8:30.
115 entries total. To the right, and slightly below: you see what was left to judge after the morning and another session of judging a few weeks previous.
I had just finished judging two collapsed categories. Maybe, like us from the drive, they were tired too?
Below the beer bottle picture you see a very “horny” gentleman: J.L. Thompson, who I judged with. Brad Lovejoy was the other judge. And below that you’ll find a picture of more judges and a beatific view.
We broke for lunch, car/truck pooling to Jason’s Deli for lunch, then back in the afternoon for Meads and Ciders. Millie, boss of me, but otherwise known as “my little Apprentice…” judged Specialty. (Yes, that’s an “in our home” beer judge joke.) We both agreed it becomes problematic when those who enter don’t tell us what makes it a “Specialty,” or what honey was used, or what category the entry was based on. Not all of these are necessary per specific guideline you are actually judging, but it makes it hard to assess.
We only had 4 Meads and Ciders, but even as a brewer of Braggot myself, I still felt the need to know more. I suppose that’s a good sign. Judges who think they know everything… (A)
usually don’t (B) tend to let that influence how they judge too much, in my opinion. From what I saw Saturday we were absent that, praise the Beer Deity in his worty heaven up high, or down below if you’re doing Golden Strongs. (They use the devil as a mascot for the style.)
Beautiful beer surrounds you as you judge. I brought a flat flashlight to brighten up the entries and assess entries for clarity.
And beautiful women also surround you when you judge beer. Of course you’re married, so is she, and your wife has a rolling pin with your name on it, just waiting in her purse as she judges at the table next to you…
…but beautiful beer and beautiful women surround you anyway.
Not all vistas painted by the divine involve lakes.
After we finished we all went out to Georgia Blue for dinner, a buffet, awards. We had to leave early to get back to Frankincense the collie, so we missed the awards. Just before we left I opened a gusher at the table, somehow a fitting baptismal-end to great day of judging beer in an amazing location.
Brew Biz: Werts and All, is a column dedicated to reviewing, discussing and commenting on all things beer including, but not limited to: marketing, homebrewing and homebrew/beer related events, how society perceives all things beer. Also: reviews of beer related businesses, opinions about trends in the beer business, and all the various homebrew, judging and organizations related to beer. Essentially, all things “beer.”