Monday, July 21, 2014

Sometimes I'm Judgy

The Big Guy and I had the opportunity to judge at the Indiana Brewers' Cup held at the state fairgrounds airless over a week ago. It was our first time judging, and I really enjoyed it.

I was actually a little bit nervous going into it. Having seen some of the feedback that The Big Guy has gotten for beers he's entered in previous competitions, I know how important it is to get meaningful feedback. With that in mind, I wanted to be sure that any feedback I had was going to be useful for the brewer. I was incredibly grateful to he more experienced judges I got to sit with for answering all my questions and really making me feel more comfortable with the whole process.

This was a big competition. Hats off to everyone involved in getting things organized and making sure that things ran smoothly during the competition. There were three sessions for the judges: one Friday night, then Saturday morning and afternoon. We only participated in the sessions on Saturday.

Of all the beers I tasted that day, most were good, a few were great, but none were bad. With eleven beers in the first session and ten in the afternoon session I think that's pretty impressive. Both flights I judged were homebrews, while The Big Guy got to judge a professional category.

There's a sheet that walks you through the different aspects of the beer that you're judging: aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, appearance, and overall impression. When we took our exam we weren't abel to have the style guidelines out for reference, but in the competition we were. That was a huge help for me, just having something to refer back to and use as a measuring stick for everything I tasted. We were judging based on those guidelines and how close the beer comes to being a perfect example of the desciption provided.

That's where some of the hard part comes in for me. A beer that's slightly off style may be more enjoyable than something brewed perfectly within the guidelines, but may not get as high a score. I tried to capture that in the overall impression section by asking myself if I'd drink a whole pint and possibly order a second.

We definitely learned a lot and both of us are excited to be a part of more competitions. We're both Recognized with the BJCP, but with a few more competitions, we'll be able move up to the Certified rank.  That's where our scores have us. It's interesting that you don't start out at the rank you earn with your scores alone. But having gone through a competition, I think there's a lot you really only learn by doing it so it does make sense. 
Congratulations to everyone who placed and won their categories, including The Big Guy who took first place in the homebrew stout category. For a complete list of the winners, click here. If you're interested in learning more about the Brewers' Cup, click here.

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