A Beer Judge’s Diary: Competition Dos and Don’ts

Courtesy San Diego Beer Festival (Competition)

Continuing my plan to write about issues rather than some droll recounting of competitions….
 I started judging in the late 90’s.
 I’ve seen well run competitions, poor run competitions. Most of them are between the two. I’d like to share some problems I’ve seen. Have no fear, organizers, no specific comp will be mentioned, unless it’s one I started.
 Some things are so obvious: like not having spicy Italian food for lunch, and especially not placing it a few feet away from judge; especially with no cover.
 Let’s pose a problem: someone leaves the staff quickly. Even if there’s no indication they might be mad, or have a grudge, change the damn passwords. Lock them out. Not meanness, just security. They may seem the nicest person in the world to you (or not), but who knows for sure what’s going inside someone else’s mind?
 Play it safe. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Competition Dos and Don’ts”

Beer Profile:The Tiger That Killed My Father

Courtesy Untappd

Profiled by Ken Carman

This is a maple bourbon barrel Mocha Latte Imperial Stout, aged. I don’t get a lot of bourbon, the maple is obvious. Bourbon more in the nose. I really don’t care for it when brewers over declare, but this comes very, very close to what’s declared. Only critique in this regard is some of what they declared is so background might have been better if a little more, but that’s VERY subjective.

Thick, almost chewy, viscous body that no light will ever shine through. Black, obsidian, the devil couldn’t shine a light through this. Pretty much no head.

This is close to all advertised, just some more in nose, some more to taste. Bourbon more to nose. Mocha and rye more to taste.

Initial attack is rye, dark malts and obviously high abv: but not that high to taste. Compliments to the brewer. Middle is rye hangs into the finish and the aftertaste with alcohol and male: dark, deep, luxurious. Bourbon really very minor to taste.

Aroma is light bourbon, caramel malt-ish and darker malt. No roasted barley sensed.

4.5 BA
4.2 Untappd

4.4

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Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”

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_______________________________Beer HERE

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: The Barf Beer Awards!

Ye Olde has been asked to write something for the season, hoping to make this a regular feature. The Professor asked Scribe to spice up the site, and in Scribe’s usual fashion he goes for the worst. It’s where the humor often is.

For the first entry we have Abita Spring’s latest dive deep into the worst deep end of the pool, away from their too often mediocre’. They used to be incredibly good in the early years but a long line of brewers that have come and gone have had their toll.

What does Scribe get? Spices, more spices, MORE spices. Is there a damn beer here? It’s not just all spices that ruins this beer, though Scribe suspects maybe A spice like Allspice, maybe two at best. Not the number of spices that matters; more how it was spiced, and the fact that the &$# poor beer behind the raw spices provides little to no back up.

All of which could encourage barf up.

Imagine this: brew a mediocre beer that has little taste, then at the end just dump in raw spices. OR boil too long with those spices, though no overboil sense hits the nose, or your slightly downward portal. That’s it! You too can brew a 7 barf beer. Awarded 7 out of 10 in case in future editions Scribe has to go up to 8, 9 or 10: the last pure toxicity almost on a dispose of the mouth and tongue scale.

PLEASE, Mr. or Ms. Brewers, can you disappoint Scribe and not go to 10? He’d appreciate it.

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. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Kansas City Cider There I Went”

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. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Constantly Parsing for the Absurdly Perfect”

Beer Profile: Saranac’s Pumpkin Ale

Profiled by Ken Carman

This review is a review of not only the beer, but my health. Let’s just say with gallstones I have had an adverse reaction to beer… still trying to figure it out. So far, so good.

Aroma: moderate pumpkin spices, behind that we have light pale malt-like sense and perhaps some caramel malt: a lighter touch to the last. Mostly allspice? Fruity pumpkin pie aroma.

Appearance: small pillow foam-like head that fades moderately. More in glass? Pours a bigger head. A hazy copper color, so clarity provides the faint image of my hand behind the plastic glass. The glass was clean, however the soft plastic may have provided some of that. The cordon (edge of glass; especially bubbles/head) is all that’s left of the pillow head.

Taste: DRY; kind of like someone poured some sand into a pumpkin beer, thankfully without the texture. The spices dominate with caramel malt-like behind that, pale behind that. Somewhat well balanced, if you prefer the spices. Tries to be sweet, just a tad, but fails. Spices conquer all. Hard to decide which spice dominates, so comes across as all spice. Good balance as far as spice mix because they blend well with each other. As I sit here; a few minutes after the last drop was swallowed, I can still sense the spices.

Mouthfeel: the prickly carbonation is firm yet just below moderate, which one would want with this. Aftertaste is the spices that cling desperately to the roof of the mouth. The malt is silky, smooth, pleasing. Long for more.

Conclusion: an excellent beer is you wish for dry, less sweet and balance to the spices. Personally I would prefer a tad sweeter, less emphasis on spices and more on the malt, but as typed: preferences. Hence a higher score than if it was just my opinion. I do think balance with spice just a hint of an issue no matter what I prefer, so it would have scored higher.

On the Ken side: so far so good. We shall see as I go go forth through the day.

4

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Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”

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____________________________Beer HERE

4.4

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Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”

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_______________________________Beer HERE

A Beer Judge’s Diary: Moving Sideways


Ken the beer judge moving sideways. Not really crabby at all! Crab Kolsch? Hmmm…

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 When I first became BJCP Certified I decided I wanted to serve the BJCP as best I could. I thought maybe being National might facilitate that. I think I was wrong.
 I admit to taking to retaking the test several times. I didn’t advance but I learned so much doing that! Yet, I also understood tasting tests might be best be reserved more for new judges. Taking a new judge’s seat was something I didn’t want to do. To be fair most of the tests I took might not have happened because they were having trouble filling seats.
 But, at least for now, I’m done with that. I have a new goal and I’m halfway there: moving sideways.

 ”Moving sideways, what’s that?”

 Why thank you for asking! Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: Moving Sideways”

A Beer Judge’s Diary: THE Website

The OLD website.

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 I suddenly realized, when I had reached the new redesigned BJCP web site, that I had been here before. Not this exact design. Not even in regard to beer.
 Why the two are similar, why I had “been here before,” is because they both were about layout vs. content and usability. Also, in the case of the two publications, about how strict, dogmatic, rules for layout may actually ruin intent.
 In the early 70’s I was one of two editors of a literary magazine in college. I was also a columnist and did an occasional news story or review for the paper. Oh, and helped with layout on both until I clashed with the graphic artist too much when doing the paper. I had hoped it would stop there. I was wrong.
 Don’t get me started on that or I’ll get too far away from my topic; lost in the weeds of anal graphic arts theory (now thankfully dated) vs. what really works. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: THE Website”

From the Bottle Collection: Saranac

Saranac/Matt Brewing. Picture courtesy Wikipedia.

 Without intent, I have collected well over 1,000 beer bottles since the early 70s. When something finally had to be done about the cheap paneling in this old modular, I had a choice: tear down the walls while, oh, so carefully, replacing the often rotted 1X3s; OR, cover them with… The Bottle Collection

 The reason I am writing this is the plan this year, or at least by next, is for both of us to retire and move back to the Adirondacks where I am from, and closer to Millie’s sister. We have two places waiting for us. I am NOT moving the bottle collection, so if you know anyone who wants a vast beer bottle collection going back to the 60’s you could contact me via Facebook. I am in the process of dumping bottles, so sooner is better.
 I thought it a great idea to place what Saranac bottles I have; not even close to all the styles they have done, on a classic vehicle. The truck is this story is our 63 Studebaker Champ named Harvey Robin Churchill. Harvey was my first car: a 61 Lark I bought for $25 and went well over 300,000 miles. Robin: color of a Robin’s egg, according to Millie, my wife, and we both loved Robin Williams. Harold Churchill: without Harold there would have been no Lark.
 Another reason I am doing this is to celebrate one simple fact: Saranac, also known in Matt Brewing and F.X Matt Brewing, has done something incredible. Among the smaller major brewers in this country they have brewed more different styles than pretty much anyone. I am referring to old school brewers that go back to the 1800’s. In fact Matt Brewing would be the OLDEST surviving brewery in the country, instead of the second, if they hadn’t changed names and owners in the 1800’s. The original owners didn’t own it for long. This is kind of a technicality, IMO.
 Most of the surviving small traditional breweries have done a craft-like style here, style there. The gigantic breweries simply bought out craft brewers. Their independence safe… for NOW Continue reading “From the Bottle Collection: Saranac”