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”

Stay Frosty: Reuben’s Brews Bear Hugs the Cold IPA


Adam, Reuben, Warren, and Grace Robbings/Photo by bizjournals.com

Written by Stephen Body
This scene above was the first time I ever heard the phrase, “Stay Frosty“. It probably was for a lot of people. I’m sure the screenwriter for Michael Biehn in “Aliens” probably didn’t dream that up. Dan O’Bannon probably heard it somewhere – being in LA, probably at Venice Beach, as uttered by some surfer dude – but everybody instantly knew what it meant. As a handy alternative to “Be cool!” (“Thirty Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary”, doncha know?) it was dead-bang perfect and it stayed with me ever since. I can’t use it in everyday speech, of course, because I’ve never been Cool a second of my life but Biehn pulled it off with a ton of élan, and so have a few others I’ve heard use it.

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Ales and Windswept Ambles Along the Fife Path Near Edinburgh

Written by Franz Hofer

Scotland is a walker’s paradise of wild and dramatic landscapes. Long-distance trails hug the banks of deep lochs and rugged coastal shoreline. They traverse glens and windswept plains, and pass in the shadow of craggy peaks. You could lose yourself for weeks on end along Scotland’s walking paths and hiking trails, all the while striking that three-note chord “in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned.”

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Deschutes “Jubelale”: An American Icon, Reimagined

By Stephen Body
People ask me at least two, three dozen times a month, “What’s your favorite beer?“

I’ve been tasting – as in sip half an ounce, swirl in mouth, linger, and spit. NOBODY can do this job and drink a full beer each tasting. You’d have a liver the size of a Kia Sportage within months – somewhere around 1,500 beers a year for almost fifteen years, now. That’s in addition to the several thousand I drank back before I got full-time serious about doing a beverage blog. How in God’s Name can I possibly choose ONE beer, out of something over 25K, as my “favorite”

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A Beer Judge’s Diary: A Hoppy Question

                   NSBO with some long hair creep judging too.

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 I’m still trying to figure out if I made a mistake. I stepped away from a mini-BOS table because I had what I thought was a prejudice towards an entry. Some considered the entry a tad problematic. My view was different.
 It happens.
 We were judging in the brewery at Star Spangled Brewery in Clarksville for The New South Brewoff. Always a grand time when I can do it, if not a grand time for those who do like Millie, my wife. BTW: apologies to those at NSBO: at least for a while I am getting away from individual reports on each competition. I think it more interesting to judges to bring up judging questions rather than what I judged, number of entries, etc.
 When it comes to one entry, did I make a mistake? I can only give you my perspective; especially when takes on that entry were so different. Continue reading “A Beer Judge’s Diary: A Hoppy Question”

My Eloquent Pumpkin Beer Rant

STOP RELEASING PUMPKIN BEERS IN JULY, DAMMIT!
Ok so it wasn’t really all that eloquent, but I know a lot of people feel the same way, so I decided to finally share (for those who don’t know), why we see pumpkin beers hit the shelves earlier and earlier every year.

Psst! Check out our Halloween glass, Dead Men Drink No Ales.

Why are pumpkin beers released so early?
The short version is most people don’t buy a lot of pumpkin beers. The average consumer buys his or her first six pack or two, and then doesn’t purchase any more. That means competition is fierce, and it becomes a race to see who can get their beer on the shelf first. Over time this led to breweries releasing them earlier and earlier to beat others to the punch.

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AUGUSTINER, MUNICH’S RETRO-HIP BREWERY

Written by Franz Hofer

Augustiner is Munich’s retro-hip brewery. That wasn’t always the case. Until relatively recently, Augustiner-Bräu was considered a dusty old brewery. There’s no denying its age: Founded by monks in 1328, Augustiner is Munich’s oldest brewery. But conceptions of tradition change. Today, the brewery’s use of wooden barrels, its retro bottles and labels, its rejection of mass advertising, and its engagement on behalf of Munich’s architectural heritage has garnered the brewery a cult following thanks to its sense of tradition.

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SAMUEL ADAMS UTOPIAS RETURNS THIS YEAR WITH A TWIST

Sam Adams Utopias is a spirited blend of multiple batches of our extreme beers, some held in reserve for just this coveted biennial release. In fact, some of the beer dates back nearly three decades, aging in wooden bourbon casks. Brewers then finish the blend in a combination of Carcavelos, Madeira, Ruby Port, and Sherry Oloroso barrels. This year, for the first time, brewers also aged a portion of the blend in Sauternes French oak wine casks which brings subtle notes of honeyed apricot and caramel to the rich layers of flavor.

“We pioneered the barrel-aging and blending process of Utopias almost thirty years ago and continue that time-honored tradition today,” said Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams. “Since the introduction of Utopias in 2002, brewers have explored uncharted territory with each brew, experimenting with different kinds of aging barrels, new flavors, and different blending techniques. The result is always special, spirited, and worth…

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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”