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General Category => Events => Homebrew Competitions => Topic started by: Iliff Ave on November 17, 2015, 07:54:19 am

Title: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on November 17, 2015, 07:54:19 am
I am entering a spiced baltic porter in a comp in category 23. Is there any additional information that I should provide other than 'baltic porter, spiced'? Should I provide the specific spices I used?

To me the beer comes off as a baltic porter but is basically an imperialized version of my schwarzbier. Should I designate it as such instead of a baltic porter? I could specify it as 'imperialized schwarzbier with ale yeast, spiced'.

I am not sure why comp categorizing is so difficult for me...
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: dmtaylor on November 17, 2015, 08:05:10 am
Don't necessarily list every single spice that you used.  Only tell them the real obvious ones that you are actually able to taste in the final beer.  Then you'll score well.

I'll give you an example: one time I made a beer with mace in it, among several other spices.  Mace tastes almost exactly like nutmeg, except 99% of beer judges would probably have no idea what mace is.  So, I actually lied and told them there was nutmeg in the beer instead of mace, because the beer did in fact taste like nutmeg.  In the end, I scored very well and the judges all stated how wonderful the nutmeg flavor was balanced by the malt, yadda yadda.

Another example: I have made several gruit ales with all sorts of crazy herbs but no hops.  In that case it was beneficial for me to tell them "no hops!" but when faced with terms like "sweet gale, mugwort, and cardamom", it was a crapshoot whether I would score well or score poorly.  If I had instead told them that it tastes mostly like "mugwort, which is similar to oregano", which is pretty much true, and ignored the other herbs that I really used, then I would probably have scored better.

Tell them what the beer tastes like, not necessarily the ingredient list.  On the other hand, don't just say "spiced" because they don't know what the spices might taste like -- could be peppercorn, could be clove, could be cinnamon, could be ginger.  Be a little bit specific, but not too much.  Figure out what it tastes like most to you, and throw them just a bone or two to focus on.  It would also be okay to say "spiced with cinnamon and other spices" if it tastes like cinnamon and other spices, or whatever.  You get the picture?

As for imperial schwarzbier versus Baltic porter, choose whichever one you think it tastes like the most.  Judges know how to differentiate those kinds of terms pretty easily.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on November 17, 2015, 08:16:16 am
Thanks! That is super helpful.

I used cinnamon, ginger, sage, and white pepper but only the cinnamon and ginger seem noticeable to me so I will include those specifically.

As far as the baltic porter, I have not had too many in my day so that's kind of a toss up. I suppose I could go with something a bit more generic like 'imperial black ale'? Going to have to go back and read the guidelines for baltic porter. This beer has like 3% carafa so it has a very smooth, lightly roasted character.

EDIT: Seems to be fit easily in baltic porter: "A Baltic Porter often has the malt flavors reminiscent of an English brown porter and the restrained roast of a schwarzbier, but with a higher OG and alcohol content than either. Very complex, with multi-layered flavors."
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: jeffy on November 17, 2015, 08:52:15 am
I tend to perceive Baltic Porter as being more rich and malty than Schwartzbier, which I find much lighter in malt character.  Neither should have much roast.  If your Imperialization of the Schwarz is still light in body and malt flavor I'd keep it as a Schwarz.  If fuller, I'd say go with the Baltic Porter.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on November 17, 2015, 09:08:03 am
I tend to perceive Baltic Porter as being more rich and malty than Schwartzbier, which I find much lighter in malt character.  Neither should have much roast.  If your Imperialization of the Schwarz is still light in body and malt flavor I'd keep it as a Schwarz.  If fuller, I'd say go with the Baltic Porter.

Thanks. It's full flavored for sure even though it finished very low for a 9% ABV beer. Baltic Porter seems like the ticket.

Going with "baltic porter, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and other spices"
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: brewinhard on November 17, 2015, 11:52:22 am
I would not even list "and other spices".  That will confuse the judges when trying to score you properly on what they are supposed to be "looking for".  Keep it minimal and simple listing only the spices that can be detected.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on November 17, 2015, 11:58:49 am
I would not even list "and other spices".  That will confuse the judges when trying to score you properly on what they are supposed to be "looking for".  Keep it minimal and simple listing only the spices that can be detected.

Ok thanks.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: udubdawg on November 17, 2015, 12:31:13 pm
There are some judges who insist Baltic Porter be big/boozy, so I've had some success saying things that indicate they shouldn't be rigid, something like "base is somewhere between Baltic and impy Schwarz"
I also see no reason it can't be in 21a/30a if you do declare a base style.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on November 17, 2015, 01:30:42 pm
There are some judges who insist Baltic Porter be big/boozy, so I've had some success saying things that indicate they shouldn't be rigid, something like "base is somewhere between Baltic and impy Schwarz"
I also see no reason it can't be in 21a/30a if you do declare a base style.

This is pretty big and boozy. I suppose it could fit in SHV too but I guess I don't know which category would be more appropriate or if it would matter.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on November 30, 2015, 11:35:45 am
So I have to drop off this entry by Saturday. After a couple more tastings, I think I have decided to enter it as a Baltic Porter straight up. I don't think the spices are noticeable enough especially if you don't know they are there. There is a lot of complexity but nothing you specifically attribute to the spices. I did a side by side with a commercial version at some point and they were very similar.

I gave my brother a sample and he made no mention of spices. The next day I asked if they recalled any spice flavor and he couldn't.

The trick here is a judge will pick up on things I don't. I guess I just have to trust my judgement and hope I don't get burned by misentering once again. Thanks for the help.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: mabrungard on November 30, 2015, 11:47:45 am
Having judged that category at the Nationals for a couple of years, I recommend that you offer only the minimum information on the beer. For example, offer only Porter unless its quite obvious that it presents other characteristics of a porter substyle. Offer only those spices or other flavors that are clearly evident to most drinkers. Don't say its a vanilla robust porter because you added vanilla to the beer, only say it if its still plainly apparent.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on November 30, 2015, 11:51:14 am
Having judged that category at the Nationals for a couple of years, I recommend that you offer only the minimum information on the beer. For example, offer only Porter unless its quite obvious that it presents other characteristics of a porter substyle. Offer only those spices or other flavors that are clearly evident to most drinkers. Don't say its a vanilla robust porter because you added vanilla to the beer, only say it if its still plainly apparent.

Thanks. It's a 'big beer' competition so only certain categories are open to enter in which excludes other porters. I think I am just going with 12C. Baltic Porter.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: PORTERHAUS on December 01, 2015, 04:43:02 pm
I had a lesson with spice beers. A lot of it is in the wording and how you describe the beer. You are laying he foundation to how it will be judged. I had a Robust Porter that I added Chocolate and Coffee to. It scored a 36 in a comp and had some valuable feedback. I sent the beer off to another competition 2 weeks later and changed the description from "Porter, Chocolate and Coffee" to "Porter, Coffee and Cocoa" as the Coffee was more upfront and the Chocolate was more Cocoa like. It then scored a 46. I know it was a separate comp and different judges but I believe the wording played a part in how it was judged. Remember the beer is not being judged for how good it is or how much they like it...its being judged for how good of a Baltic Porter it is. List only what you want to be judged.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on December 02, 2015, 12:31:28 pm
I had a lesson with spice beers. A lot of it is in the wording and how you describe the beer. You are laying he foundation to how it will be judged. I had a Robust Porter that I added Chocolate and Coffee to. It scored a 36 in a comp and had some valuable feedback. I sent the beer off to another competition 2 weeks later and changed the description from "Porter, Chocolate and Coffee" to "Porter, Coffee and Cocoa" as the Coffee was more upfront and the Chocolate was more Cocoa like. It then scored a 46. I know it was a separate comp and different judges but I believe the wording played a part in how it was judged. Remember the beer is not being judged for how good it is or how much they like it...its being judged for how good of a Baltic Porter it is. List only what you want to be judged.

Thanks! For some reason these things have never been very obvious to me. Any spice notes on this beer are not outside of the baltic porter guidelines and not obvious as actual spices. Hopefully I don't misenter...
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: udubdawg on December 02, 2015, 01:17:48 pm
I had a lesson with spice beers. A lot of it is in the wording and how you describe the beer. You are laying he foundation to how it will be judged. I had a Robust Porter that I added Chocolate and Coffee to. It scored a 36 in a comp and had some valuable feedback. I sent the beer off to another competition 2 weeks later and changed the description from "Porter, Chocolate and Coffee" to "Porter, Coffee and Cocoa" as the Coffee was more upfront and the Chocolate was more Cocoa like. It then scored a 46. I know it was a separate comp and different judges but I believe the wording played a part in how it was judged. Remember the beer is not being judged for how good it is or how much they like it...its being judged for how good of a Baltic Porter it is. List only what you want to be judged.

Thanks! For some reason these things have never been very obvious to me. Any spice notes on this beer are not outside of the baltic porter guidelines and not obvious as actual spices. Hopefully I don't misenter...

I don't want to dismiss what PORTERHAUS has said as I don't really disagree.  However, you'll find the judging will vary significantly so at some point it's not worth worrying about.  Give your beer the best shot you can, and then understand there's nothing else you can do.  I just got a gold medal for a beer that was destroyed in the NHC First Round.  In another comp the same weekend, it scored a 22.  Such is life.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: dmtaylor on December 02, 2015, 01:27:26 pm
I don't want to dismiss what PORTERHAUS has said as I don't really disagree.  However, you'll find the judging will vary significantly so at some point it's not worth worrying about.  Give your beer the best shot you can, and then understand there's nothing else you can do.  I just got a gold medal for a beer that was destroyed in the NHC First Round.  In another comp the same weekend, it scored a 22.  Such is life.

I am coming to believe that at a certain point in an advanced homebrewer's career, entering competitions becomes a very low value, diminishing returns kind of thing.  I might not enter any competitions anymore, I'm not sure.  When you can criticize your own beer 10 times better than anyone else can, it might be time to save the money.  Now...... if competitions were free to enter, then maybe that would be something.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: PORTERHAUS on December 02, 2015, 02:02:48 pm
I don't want to dismiss what PORTERHAUS has said as I don't really disagree.  However, you'll find the judging will vary significantly so at some point it's not worth worrying about.  Give your beer the best shot you can, and then understand there's nothing else you can do.  I just got a gold medal for a beer that was destroyed in the NHC First Round.  In another comp the same weekend, it scored a 22.  Such is life.

I am coming to believe that at a certain point in an advanced homebrewer's career, entering competitions becomes a very low value, diminishing returns kind of thing.  I might not enter any competitions anymore, I'm not sure.  When you can criticize your own beer 10 times better than anyone else can, it might be time to save the money.  Now...... if competitions were free to enter, then maybe that would be something.

Absolutely. That is the other side of the same coin obviously. Comps can be very hit and miss.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on December 02, 2015, 04:00:12 pm
I don't want to dismiss what PORTERHAUS has said as I don't really disagree.  However, you'll find the judging will vary significantly so at some point it's not worth worrying about.  Give your beer the best shot you can, and then understand there's nothing else you can do.  I just got a gold medal for a beer that was destroyed in the NHC First Round.  In another comp the same weekend, it scored a 22.  Such is life.

I am coming to believe that at a certain point in an advanced homebrewer's career, entering competitions becomes a very low value, diminishing returns kind of thing.  I might not enter any competitions anymore, I'm not sure.  When you can criticize your own beer 10 times better than anyone else can, it might be time to save the money.  Now...... if competitions were free to enter, then maybe that would be something.

I don't disagree but I find $7 entries to be affordable to get unbiased judging of my beers. I don't take my scores or feedback as the bible but sometimes it helps me to critique and understand how to make my beer better. I usually enter 1-2 comps a year and don't see myself doing it that often moving forward. I don't have many others drinking my beer so it's good to get some type of feedback.
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on January 23, 2016, 08:47:02 am
Thanks for the help. I got my scores back and it did pretty poorly. I must have a horrible palate...
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: brewinhard on January 23, 2016, 02:16:53 pm
Thanks for the help. I got my scores back and it did pretty poorly. I must have a horrible palate...

Did you end up entering it as a Baltic Porter?  Did they comment on any "spice" noted?  Too dry for the style?
Title: Re: how much detail for category 23 entry?
Post by: Iliff Ave on January 23, 2016, 05:27:46 pm
Thanks for the help. I got my scores back and it did pretty poorly. I must have a horrible palate...

Did you end up entering it as a Baltic Porter?  Did they comment on any "spice" noted?  Too dry for the style?

Went with Baltic Porter which seems to have been a mistake but not sure my scores would have been much better. My main frustration is one judge distinctly notes DMS and sourness while another judge distinctly notes no DMS or diacetyl. Bad bottle? One judge picked up on the spices a lot and noted esters and phenolics.

I had this beer next to a Baltika Porter and they tasted very similar to me...