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General Category => Events => Homebrew Competitions => Topic started by: jskiles on May 08, 2014, 03:27:47 PM

Title: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: jskiles on May 08, 2014, 03:27:47 PM
I got my scoresheets back from the Chicago area NHC.  On one or two of them on an area reserved for "Other Notes" or something like that I saw a note of "High Fill".  Now, I fill all my bottles using a beer gun and do not bottle condition at all.  I don't understand why the fill level on a bottle is a consideration at all.  I do not believe it affected my scores at all but I found it irritating that it was made note of at all.  Is this something judges are trained to notice?
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: theDarkSide on May 08, 2014, 03:49:32 PM
I believe judges are supposed to take notice, but it should not affect your score. But like you, I wonder why it's even on there unless the fill is extremely off. 
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: dmtaylor on May 08, 2014, 03:52:35 PM
I think it's a stupid comment.  It is only relevant if it affects beer quality... which it doesn't.  If they saw a "ring around the collar" due to contamination, now that is something I would note on that line.  But "high fill"?  That's just being silly.  Worthless.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: Joe Sr. on May 08, 2014, 04:03:33 PM
I had a "low fill" comment on a previous score sheet.  I don't believe it affected the score, but I do know that I had some bottles I filled off my kegs that foamed a lot and had lower fills once they settled down.  I didn't think I submitted those, but whatever.

I imagine that a low fill could have an impact, either loss of carbonation or perhaps more possibility of oxidation.  I should check the score sheets, but I think I had a good score regardless.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: AmandaK on May 08, 2014, 04:15:01 PM
I will make notes about a high/low fill or raised lettering on the bottle. It is ONLY for identification purposes. For instance, if I get a score sheet back with 'Sam Adams bottle, very low fill' I know it is not my beer as I do not use Sam Adams bottles. I can then either throw away the score sheet or contact the organizer.

Saying that it is a "stupid comment" or "worthless" is only valid if you get points taken off for it or if the judge says "normal fill, plain bottle".


Fwiw, every time I note a high fill, I always follow it with " thanks for the extra beer!".
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: udubdawg on May 08, 2014, 05:07:06 PM
as others have said, it helps with identification of possible concerns by the judge, and in a few cases, it helps reassure you that they judged your beer and no mixup occurred.

(if it says "bottle conditioned" and yours was from the keg, well...)

I also coach judges to not use negative wording here.  "Too full" gives a negative impression, "overfilled" a little less so.  "very full" is what I use in this case, or "filled to the top" when appropriate.

I've reassured dozens of entrants of this, but it seems to be worth saying again:
I've not met a single judge who removes points for fill level.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: bbesser on May 08, 2014, 05:25:36 PM
The BJCP exam study guide says:

"Visually inspect the bottle (if given the bottle). Check the bottle for fill level, clarity, sediment,
and signs of problems (e.g., a ring around the neck of the bottle). Identification of such
characteristics may be helpful in describing flaws that are discovered during the formal
evaluation process. However, be careful not to prejudge the beer based on a visual inspection
of the bottle"

So, it is something that is made note of, but should not be something that people take points away from.  However, as it notes, something like that could give the judge a bad first impression which could have an effect on your scores.  I would say try and only send in bottles for competitions that are close to a commercial fill level.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: porterpounder on May 08, 2014, 05:35:41 PM
The fill level shouldn't really make a difference in most cases, most especially if the bottle is more full than standard.

I judged in a pair a few months ago where the other judge (National Rank) was obsessed with the bottle fill. Every bottle he judged a low fill (which was about 1/4 of them) he would make some snide comment and go open the bottle over a sink expecting it to gush. He was immediately overly negative from that point on with each entry he treated as such. It was a shame as some of those beers were very good and it made for an uncomfortable spectacle and long judging session.

Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: tschmidlin on May 08, 2014, 05:44:30 PM
Fill level can make a difference in the carbonation level of bottle conditioned beers.  It is not usually a problem though, and although I note the fill level I never take off points and have never heard of anyone doing so.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: AmandaK on May 08, 2014, 07:01:28 PM
I judged in a pair a few months ago where the other judge (National Rank) was obsessed with the bottle fill. Every bottle he judged a low fill (which was about 1/4 of them) he would make some snide comment and go open the bottle over a sink expecting it to gush. He was immediately overly negative from that point on with each entry he treated as such. It was a shame as some of those beers were very good and it made for an uncomfortable spectacle and long judging session.

This is just ridiculous. It makes a mockery of what the rest of us well meaning judges are trying to do. To someone who is new to the comp circuit, they could start inferring that National rank = pompous a$$. Hooray!  ::)

Personally, the best thing to hear as a judge is this:

"I know you, you've judged one of my beers."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah, your comments really helped improve my beer."


Boom. That's why I keep judging.  8)
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: morticaixavier on May 08, 2014, 08:11:23 PM
I have heard judges say that a high fill makes them look for oxidation because it was probably filled from a keg. Now I know that bottles filled from a keg do have a higher risk of oxidation but it seems dangerous to be to approach it from that direction.

If I'm now looking for oxidation flavor aspects that may or may not be oxidation are going to seem like oxidation because I'm looking for it. It's useful as a note because if you find oxidation and then look back up at the fill note you can suggest the brewer be more careful during transfers/bottling but the other way around seems problematic.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: theDarkSide on May 08, 2014, 08:27:01 PM
I have heard judges say that a high fill makes them look for oxidation because it was probably filled from a keg. Now I know that bottles filled from a keg do have a higher risk of oxidation but it seems dangerous to be to approach it from that direction.

I truly hope there aren't a lot of judges out there with this mentality.  I fill my bottles from a keg, but going from a CO2 saturated environment, into a CO2 purged bottle, hit with CO2 and capped on foam means they're looking for oxidized character just because it was a high fill.  From time to time, even when bottling with my beer gun I end up a little high.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: Jimmy K on May 08, 2014, 08:42:14 PM
I've never heard a judge comment that a high fill was negative or indicated a possible problem. I'm sure it happens, but hopefully it is rare. But I would write it down, because we're trained to describe the beer including positive, negative, and neutral characteristics.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: dmtaylor on May 08, 2014, 10:16:11 PM
I suppose the workaround for all this is, don't fill your bottles all the way.  Then avoid the comments and speculation entirely.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: bbesser on May 08, 2014, 10:17:41 PM
I suppose the workaround for all this is, don't fill your bottles all the way.  Then avoid the comments and speculation entirely.

Unless you under fill.  Then you may get a different comment.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: klickitat jim on May 09, 2014, 01:32:43 AM
I judged in a pair a few months ago where the other judge (National Rank) was obsessed with the bottle fill. Every bottle he judged a low fill (which was about 1/4 of them) he would make some snide comment and go open the bottle over a sink expecting it to gush. He was immediately overly negative from that point on with each entry he treated as such. It was a shame as some of those beers were very good and it made for an uncomfortable spectacle and long judging session.

This is just ridiculous. It makes a mockery of what the rest of us well meaning judges are trying to do. To someone who is new to the comp circuit, they could start inferring that National rank = pompous a$$. Hooray!  ::)

Personally, the best thing to hear as a judge is this:

"I know you, you've judged one of my beers."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah, your comments really helped improve my beer."


Boom. That's why I keep judging.  8)

And the other way is very similar
"I know you. You've judged one of my beers."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yyyyyyyyyyeah..."
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: denny on May 09, 2014, 03:26:22 PM
I've never heard a judge comment that a high fill was negative or indicated a possible problem. I'm sure it happens, but hopefully it is rare. But I would write it down, because we're trained to describe the beer including positive, negative, and neutral characteristics.

+1.060.  That's exactly the way I look at it.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: bluesman on May 09, 2014, 04:47:30 PM
Generally speaking, a high fill doesn't influence the aroma, flavor or mouthfeel of the beer. There's some potential for impact on the bottle conditioning of the beer, but otherwise it shouldn't affect the aroma/flavor of the beer. If anything there's less potential (headspace) for oxygen to get into the bottle during fill/capping.
Title: Re: High Fill, is this a thing?
Post by: stihler on May 31, 2014, 09:19:28 PM
The first thing a judge does prior to opening the bottle is look at the fill level (low or high) and look for any obvious signs of infection. This section is not scored.

Noting a high or low fill level may point to potential problems which may or may not be realized. If there was a problem then it would be noted in elsewhere on the scoresheet.

A high fill level can result in under carbonated beer. If there was no comment regarding low carbonation or mouthfeel problems then the high fill likely did not affect the beer in question.

My guess is that judge wrote down that comment prior to actually tasting the beer.

Admittedly further explanation should have been given or that comment simply removed.


- Scott