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General Category => Beer Recipes => Topic started by: morticaixavier on April 30, 2012, 07:07:15 AM

Title: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: morticaixavier on April 30, 2012, 07:07:15 AM
Well, I got my scores from the world cup. not to disapointed. got a 35+ on the scottish 60/- in prelim, although only a 27 in second round. (sad face). The comment that stuck out was from the second
round where the 1 national rank judge suggested more malt and more hops.

I don't want to dig to hard on a hard working BJCP judge but I gotta say, if I had used more malt and more hops it would have been a 70/- or 80/-.

Still 32 on the rye IPA and a respectable 28 on the barley wine. It really wasn't ready for prime time anyway. still got 7 bottles so maybe I'll enter it again later in the year.

So this was my first comp and I feel alright about it. actually makes me want to enter more. I am going to try 'brewing to the comp' on a couple of beers, any general suggestions?

I'm thinking I will follow the AHA club only comp schedule and try to brew something for each comp. Next up, scottish and irish, if I can get it done in time! brewed on friday, split 8 gallons into 2 fermentors one 5.5 and the other 2.5 (no difference between the two, just worked out that way).

Recipe was
97% crisp pale ale
3% roasted barley
17 IBU goldings at 60

After that porter so here's what I have so far.
Robust Porter 30 liters
13 lbs pale malt (US this time as I don't see the point in spending the extra money and fuel to get British, open to argument)
3 lbs Munich 10L, (love this stuff for malty delicious maltiness)
1 lbs chocolate malt
1 lbs crystal 60
haven't pinned down hops, yeast at all yet. I am open to using a lager yeast or a super cold tolerant ale yeast. and wide open on hops. folks with more comp experience can perhaps enlighten me as to what judges tend to look for in this style. The BJCP guidelines are pretty open with both british and american hops acceptable. I am aiming for the higher end of the OG scale and the IBU scale , given that it seems
like that's what the judges want.

I don't mean to sound cynical, I am really not! but if your goal is to win comps, you gotta think about this stuff. I will still brew things just because I want to drink them but if I am gonna enter, I want to win!
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: udubdawg on April 30, 2012, 04:46:26 PM
I don't want to dig to hard on a hard working BJCP judge but I gotta say, if I had used more malt and more hops it would have been a 70/- or 80/-.


hahaha...if it's any consolation I commonly enter my 80/- as a 70/- and still get told it needs more malt.  Same thing with the 8B I enter as an 8A.  Usually I give up and keep making them the way I like it, and occasionally I try to give them what they ask for.  Always got asked for "more" (literally had a scoresheet that said "good beer, but needs MORE" as feedback) with my robust porter.  Got exasperated and entered a 1.072/1.022 American Stout without the dry hops as a 12B - gold medal.   ;D

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: jmcamerlengo on April 30, 2012, 05:10:45 PM
I've definitely noticed judges seem to like "bigger" beers. If you think about it, it makes sense. They are tasting a flight of beers and the little session guy gets pounded because it seems flavorless compared to the big brew.

One issue I have with judging is judging beers like Scottish 60/- 70/- 80/- up against wee heavys.  In my own experience my Scottish 70/- scored a 40 at a competition, received no bad remarks, even said detail was paid attention to all aspects of the beer and great care seems like it was taken in each step.  It was followed by: "this beer just needs more malt and hops" I thought great! I should've atleast gotten a 3rd place on the beer.  Found out the winners of the category were all Wee Heavys. I think judging this way doesnt lend itself well to the smaller beers in the same category out there.

From my experience making beers on the big end of the style, or even making them bigger than style as mentioned before, making the 80/- and entering as a 70/-, within reason may be the way to go.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: morticaixavier on April 30, 2012, 05:39:57 PM
I just want to add, I got some good feedback from this comp and it highlighted some issues I might be having generally with my process. I can see how it is useful for that purpose as well.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: jmcamerlengo on April 30, 2012, 05:41:48 PM
I just want to add, I got some good feedback from this comp and it highlighted some issues I might be having generally with my process. I can see how it is useful for that purpose as well.

That is its best use imo!
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: morticaixavier on April 30, 2012, 05:59:24 PM
I just want to add, I got some good feedback from this comp and it highlighted some issues I might be having generally with my process. I can see how it is useful for that purpose as well.

That is its best use imo!

Well, yes and no. It is very useful to get the feedback, just as it's really fun to compete at, say billiards, even if you don't win, but it's more fun to win.  ;D
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: rjharper on April 30, 2012, 06:38:29 PM
I've definitely noticed judges seem to like "bigger" beers. If you think about it, it makes sense. They are tasting a flight of beers and the little session guy gets pounded because it seems flavorless compared to the big brew.

One issue I have with judging is judging beers like Scottish 60/- 70/- 80/- up against wee heavys.  In my own experience my Scottish 70/- scored a 40 at a competition, received no bad remarks, even said detail was paid attention to all aspects of the beer and great care seems like it was taken in each step.  It was followed by: "this beer just needs more malt and hops" I thought great! I should've atleast gotten a 3rd place on the beer.  Found out the winners of the category were all Wee Heavys. I think judging this way doesnt lend itself well to the smaller beers in the same category out there.

From my experience making beers on the big end of the style, or even making them bigger than style as mentioned before, making the 80/- and entering as a 70/-, within reason may be the way to go.

I've had this same discussion with my brew club, I had an Irish Red take a 40, similar feed back and nothing.  All three medals got to the Strong Scotch.  In my opinion, Strong Scotch Ales (9E) should be better placed in category 19, (Strong Ales) along side Old Ales and Barleywines, and Category 9 should focus on comparable session ales from Scotland and Ireland.  There's more than one category for English, Belgian, American beers etc, I dont see why Scottish all need to be lumped together.  Sure the recipes are similar, other than scale, but the final product tastes entirely different.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: morticaixavier on April 30, 2012, 07:56:47 PM
Perhaps if a judge was given a sample of the actual commercial calibration beers blind and would fail the test if they didn't give it a 50 it would help. I would think that the listed commercial examples should always score a 50 right?
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: Hokerer on April 30, 2012, 08:05:20 PM
I would think that the listed commercial examples should always score a 50 right?

That's a joke, right?

Ever read the commercial calibration bit in Zymurgy every month?  Never a 50
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: morticaixavier on April 30, 2012, 08:12:14 PM
I would think that the listed commercial examples should always score a 50 right?

That's a joke, right?

Ever read the commercial calibration bit in Zymurgy every month?  Never a 50

It was sort of a joke, I do read that column but those aren't always the listed commercial examples are they? still, joking aside, if the score is based on how well the beer represents the published guidlines, and those guidlines are based on the published commercial examples the those examples should score perfect. and, in fact, any deviation from that perfect score is a measure of how much subjective 'like/don't like' based bias is present for each judge.

I also entered an all ivanhoe hop rye IPA and got decent scores (low 30's) and both judges were very up front about the fact that while the beer was technically very good, no off flavours or other faults, they did not score it as highly as they might have because they didn't care for the particular character of that hop. This is fine, it was cat 23 so I suspect subjective measures make a huge difference there. but in a more specific category, cat 9 for instance, it seems like there should be a lot less room for that and blind tasting the commercial examples would provide some measure of that bias.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: bonjour on April 30, 2012, 09:19:55 PM
I had several Duvels and because of defects I was scoring generously in the low 20s

IMHO beers listed as BJCP Classic Styles should score in the 40s on a consistent basis.  There are always bottles, sometimes in a 6-pack with a 40 point plus beer that will score considerably lower.

Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: morticaixavier on April 30, 2012, 09:41:38 PM
I had several Duvels and because of defects I was scoring generously in the low 20s

IMHO beers listed as BJCP Classic Styles should score in the 40s on a consistent basis.  There are always bottles, sometimes in a 6-pack with a 40 point plus beer that will score considerably lower.

Of course there is always that. even the best brewery probably sends out a bad bottle on occasion. and obviously the judges have no control over the handling that bottle has recieved before it arrived on the table and a Judge can't really be faulted for not giving something a 50 based simply on the idea that a 50 is 'impossible' but I think the principal holds that if it's on the list of commercial examples it should score extremenly high and it would be worth while figuring out a way to rank judges based on their response to a classic example.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: bo on April 30, 2012, 10:14:13 PM
I think a few unmarked "classic style" test beers should be placed in every comp, just to see how well the judges are doing. The results of those beers should be given to every participant as a basis for how their beers were judged. If a judge consistently gives those classic styles low scores, then he/she should be moved to a different style or asked not to judge for a while.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: jeffy on April 30, 2012, 10:15:21 PM
I've definitely noticed judges seem to like "bigger" beers. If you think about it, it makes sense. They are tasting a flight of beers and the little session guy gets pounded because it seems flavorless compared to the big brew.

One issue I have with judging is judging beers like Scottish 60/- 70/- 80/- up against wee heavys.  In my own experience my Scottish 70/- scored a 40 at a competition, received no bad remarks, even said detail was paid attention to all aspects of the beer and great care seems like it was taken in each step.  It was followed by: "this beer just needs more malt and hops" I thought great! I should've atleast gotten a 3rd place on the beer.  Found out the winners of the category were all Wee Heavys. I think judging this way doesnt lend itself well to the smaller beers in the same category out there.

From my experience making beers on the big end of the style, or even making them bigger than style as mentioned before, making the 80/- and entering as a 70/-, within reason may be the way to go.

I've had this same discussion with my brew club, I had an Irish Red take a 40, similar feed back and nothing.  All three medals got to the Strong Scotch.  In my opinion, Strong Scotch Ales (9E) should be better placed in category 19, (Strong Ales) along side Old Ales and Barleywines, and Category 9 should focus on comparable session ales from Scotland and Ireland.  There's mo re than one category for English, Belgian, American beers etc, I dont see why Scottish all need to be lumped together.  Sure the recipes are similar, other than scale, but the final product tastes entirely different.

This used to be the case with the old style guiedlines, but for some reason they changed it in the 2008 version.  I prefer Strong Scotch in with the other Strong Ales.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: rjharper on April 30, 2012, 10:40:50 PM

I've had this same discussion with my brew club, I had an Irish Red take a 40, similar feed back and nothing.  All three medals got to the Strong Scotch.  In my opinion, Strong Scotch Ales (9E) should be better placed in category 19, (Strong Ales) along side Old Ales and Barleywines, and Category 9 should focus on comparable session ales from Scotland and Ireland.  There's mo re than one category for English, Belgian, American beers etc, I dont see why Scottish all need to be lumped together.  Sure the recipes are similar, other than scale, but the final product tastes entirely different.

This used to be the case with the old style guiedlines, but for some reason they changed it in the 2008 version.  I prefer Strong Scotch in with the other Strong Ales.

I honestly did not know that, and so now I want to know why they changed it.

I feel that little bit wiser now... :)
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: richardt on May 01, 2012, 01:03:01 AM
Not surprised at all by your experience.
The bigger beers usually win the category.  I think it reflects lack of sophistication by some judges.  I like to stick up for the little beer within the category, especially if it is an excellent example of the sub-style.  However, the majority of judges seem too easily swayed by the bigger beers with more of everything.
It sometimes is perceived by judges that a stronger beer has been entered within a weaker subcategory within the style (e.g. a 80/- as a 60/-; or a beer that overshot its OG but is still entered as a weaker substyle.  The judges have no way of knowing the truth, so we have to assume the beer truly is a 60/- even though we suspect it is an 80/-.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: markaberrant on May 01, 2012, 06:51:02 PM
I think a few unmarked "classic style" test beers should be placed in every comp, just to see how well the judges are doing. The results of those beers should be given to every participant as a basis for how their beers were judged. If a judge consistently gives those classic styles low scores, then he/she should be moved to a different style or asked not to judge for a while.

As mentioned earlier, how do you account for the fact that not every bottle of a classic example is in tip top shape?
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: narvin on May 01, 2012, 07:06:58 PM
I agree, but given palate fatigue, beer staling, and other issues, is not always due to naive judges who think bigger is better.  But I think it often is.  I will say that my doppelbock was technically my best beer out of the three I submitted, yet it got the worst score.  Why?  It was on the low end of the ABV range, yet it was almost identical to Celebrator in terms of OG/FG stats.  Biggest complaint was lack of alcohol warming.  Really?  I think most judges would prefer an alcoholic bock versus one that showed complexity in malty body, and this is a problem.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: morticaixavier on May 01, 2012, 07:55:41 PM
I agree, but given palate fatigue, beer staling, and other issues, is not always due to naive judges who think bigger is better.  But I think it often is.  I will say that my doppelbock was technically my best beer out of the three I submitted, yet it got the worst score.  Why?  It was on the low end of the ABV range, yet it was almost identical to Celebrator in terms of OG/FG stats.  Biggest complaint was lack of alcohol warming.  Really?  I think most judges would prefer an alcoholic bock versus one that showed complexity in malty body, and this is a problem.

that's funny cause my lowest score was for the barrel aged barley wine because it was too boozy.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on May 01, 2012, 08:05:36 PM
Not surprised at all by your experience.
The bigger beers usually win the category.  I think it reflects lack of sophistication by some judges.  I like to stick up for the little beer within the category, especially if it is an excellent example of the sub-style.  However, the majority of judges seem too easily swayed by the bigger beers with more of everything.
It sometimes is perceived by judges that a stronger beer has been entered within a weaker subcategory within the style (e.g. a 80/- as a 60/-; or a beer that overshot its OG but is still entered as a weaker substyle.  The judges have no way of knowing the truth, so we have to assume the beer truly is a 60/- even though we suspect it is an 80/-.

Ive actually thought about doing this with an AIPA.

Its a goal of mine to win in the IPA category with an AIPA - its always very popular and a style that many seasoned brewers have great recipes for. I assume its also heavliy swayed by palate fatigue and over-the top bitterness.

I thought my best bet was to push the ABV past the style guidelines, almost to an IIPA, but keep it fairly dry with some sucrose. Condition if needed to remove over the top alcohol warmth, then dry-hop the hell out of it.

Is this 'cheating'?
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: jmcamerlengo on May 01, 2012, 08:07:06 PM
I agree, but given palate fatigue, beer staling, and other issues, is not always due to naive judges who think bigger is better.  But I think it often is.  I will say that my doppelbock was technically my best beer out of the three I submitted, yet it got the worst score.  Why?  It was on the low end of the ABV range, yet it was almost identical to Celebrator in terms of OG/FG stats.  Biggest complaint was lack of alcohol warming.  Really?  I think most judges would prefer an alcoholic bock versus one that showed complexity in malty body, and this is a problem.

I had the exact same experience with my English BarleyWine. Said it wasnt strong enough to be a barleywine yet it was 1.086 OG and 1.017 FG but was otherwise a great beer yet it scored very low for being out of style.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: morticaixavier on May 01, 2012, 09:38:34 PM
Its a goal of mine to win in the IPA category with an AIPA - its always very popular and a style that many seasoned brewers have great recipes for. I assume its also heavliy swayed by palate fatigue and over-the top bitterness.

I thought my best bet was to push the ABV past the style guidelines, almost to an IIPA, but keep it fairly dry with some sucrose. Condition if needed to remove over the top alcohol warmth, then dry-hop the hell out of it.

Is this 'cheating'?

ahh the million dollar question. I wonder the same thing. obviously there is nothing to stop you from doing this, just as there is nothing to stop me from entering the 80/- I just brewed as a 60/- except ethics. it's frustrating therefore that I might never be able to win with an actual 60/- without 'cheating' in this way.

So, to recap, we have 1 strategy for doing better in comps;
  1) brewing to the top end of the style guidlines or beyond and more so brewing to the top end of the whole category and ignoring the lower gravity sub categories.

what else ya got?

Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: weithman5 on May 01, 2012, 10:32:31 PM
why i struggle with brewing to style
i think of the style guidelines as well, guidelines.  such that my current dark beer that is lagering is my take on a cross between a dunkel and a schwarzbeir.  would love to get honest assessments on what people think of it.  flavors, colors, aromas, and faulty flavors etc.  but not necessarily that it didn't seem to hit a mark compared to something else.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: narvin on May 01, 2012, 11:06:29 PM
There's no such thing as cheating, unless you didn't brew the beer  :)

If you think you know what your target audience wants, why not cater to it?  Just remember that all judges are different, and you are no way guaranteed to win with a "bigger is better" approach.  Especially in the second round, where you might get more seasoned judges.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: paul on May 02, 2012, 04:46:50 AM
I agree that the "bigger is better" method of judging is common and problematic.  I brewed a mild at the top end of the gravity ranges and with a significant quantity of flavor hops, yet it was deemed "not malty or hoppy enough."  I also had my APA called "malt forward with minimal hop flavor" when it had over five ounces of American variety hops added after 30 minutes and minimal character malts (5-gallon batch).  I just attribute this to palate fatigue from judging too many over-the-top beers, and maybe judges who forget they're supposed to consider the style, not just their preferences for stronger flavors.

The good news is that sometimes the smaller beer wins.  I judged at this year's Indian Peak Alers Competition.  My table judged light lagers, including American standard lagers up to Bohemian Pils.  There wasn't really a bad beer in our flight, and yet the winner at our table was an American standard lager.  Even better, this beer went on to win best of show.  So it just goes to show an over the top beer won't always come out on top.
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: thetooth on May 02, 2012, 04:44:13 PM
I also entered an all ivanhoe hop rye IPA and got decent scores (low 30's) and both judges were very up front about the fact that while the beer was technically very good, no off flavours or other faults, they did not score it as highly as they might have because they didn't care for the particular character of that hop. This is fine, it was cat 23 so I suspect subjective measures make a huge difference there. but in a more specific category, cat 9 for instance, it seems like there should be a lot less room for that and blind tasting the commercial examples would provide some measure of that bias.

I find the "judge doesn't prefer that type of hop" result annoying.  i had my blond ale dinged because the judges didn't like the hop selection.  The comments specifically told me to try a different hop next time.  I could understand if I was using an English hop in an American style or something, but that wasn't the case.  The judge just seemed to not like it.  That kind of feedback does me no good since others like the flavor, including the judges that gave it a gold medal at another comp I sent it to.  LOL
Title: Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
Post by: bo on May 02, 2012, 04:59:35 PM
I also entered an all ivanhoe hop rye IPA and got decent scores (low 30's) and both judges were very up front about the fact that while the beer was technically very good, no off flavours or other faults, they did not score it as highly as they might have because they didn't care for the particular character of that hop. This is fine, it was cat 23 so I suspect subjective measures make a huge difference there. but in a more specific category, cat 9 for instance, it seems like there should be a lot less room for that and blind tasting the commercial examples would provide some measure of that bias.

I find the "judge doesn't prefer that type of hop" result annoying.  i had my blond ale dinged because the judges didn't like the hop selection.  The comments specifically told me to try a different hop next time.  I could understand if I was using an English hop in an American style or something, but that wasn't the case.  The judge just seemed to not like it.  That kind of feedback does me no good since others like the flavor, including the judges that gave it a gold medal at another comp I sent it to.  LOL
\

Shaking head in amazement.