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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: hosedragger on May 04, 2011, 12:29:30 PM

Title: AHA First Round
Post by: hosedragger on May 04, 2011, 12:29:30 PM
Can someone help me. I received my score sheets back from the first round and all three of the beers I entered in category 10 were marked that they had advanced to the mini best of show and one of them my Brown in 10c is marked with 2nd place. Does this mean I got thru the first round with the 10c entry?
 ???
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: theDarkSide on May 04, 2011, 12:35:09 PM
I think that's a safe bet.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: johnf on May 04, 2011, 12:49:48 PM
Can someone help me. I received my score my score sheets back from the first round and all three of the beers I entered in category 10 marked that they advanced to the mini best of show and one of them my Brown in 10c is marked with 2nd place. Does this mean I got thru the first round with the 10c entry?
 ???

If the cover sheets are filled out correctly, yes.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: hosedragger on May 04, 2011, 01:42:42 PM
WAHOOOOOOO!!!!! I am a little excited. ;D
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: hopfenundmalz on May 04, 2011, 01:43:41 PM
You will get instructions on what to do next.

Janis will have the results posted soon, so wait to see your name on the list for that region.  Good luck in the 2nd round.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: hosedragger on May 04, 2011, 01:48:23 PM
Thanks fellow Michigander. As you might guess this is my first time making it thru first round. ;D
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: jhwk on May 04, 2011, 01:56:04 PM
This is where I have a problem with the current "release" schedule...

You have your results and can prepare for the second round.  I am still waiting.  There is no reason to hold all results until all regions are recieved and then posted - fairness is not an argument, as demonstrated here.  >:(

release the Kraken!
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on May 04, 2011, 02:02:29 PM
This is where I have a problem with the current "release" schedule...

You have your results and can prepare for the second round.  I am still waiting.  There is no reason to hold all results until all regions are recieved and then posted - fairness is not an argument, as demonstrated here.  >:(

release the Kraken!
I agree it does give some an advantage. Some folks have already rebrewed for the second round (me) and others still don't know what advanced (practically everyone else in my HB club, they all used Nashville where I used Dallas).  On the other hand, it does suck when everybody has to wait for that one region that's dragging it's feet.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: johnf on May 04, 2011, 02:55:40 PM
This is where I have a problem with the current "release" schedule...

You have your results and can prepare for the second round.  I am still waiting.  There is no reason to hold all results until all regions are recieved and then posted - fairness is not an argument, as demonstrated here.  >:(

release the Kraken!
I agree it does give some an advantage. Some folks have already rebrewed for the second round (me) and others still don't know what advanced (practically everyone else in my HB club, they all used Nashville where I used Dallas).  On the other hand, it does suck when everybody has to wait for that one region that's dragging it's feet.
Dragging it's feet now until....next weekend.

It would be funny if it didn't affect so many people.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: Janis on May 04, 2011, 03:32:09 PM
Hi all,

So far, we have not passed the usual date (this Friday) for posting the First Round results of the NHC.  When creating the schedule for this year, I had hoped to get the results posted one week earlier, but this wasn't possible as it turns out.  Now, the delay in posting the results is as painful for me as it is for all of the entrants.  I need all 10 databases in order to create the database for the Final Round, and I can't assign Final Round entry numbers and create the entry labels to send to the First Round winners, etc. until I have the Final Round database.

If you already have your score sheets with comments, scores, and information about whether your entry placed, you are light years ahead of all the entrants who entered the Saratoga Springs competition.  If you wanted to re-brew, you have had every opportunity to do so since the competition began, or even before that. Otherwise, relax, don't worry, have a homebrew; we're all doing the best we can under the circumstances

Thanks for your patience and understanding.  Good luck to everyone qualifying for the Final Round!

Cheers,
   Janis
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: jhwk on May 04, 2011, 10:22:56 PM
If you wanted to re-brew, you have had every opportunity to do so since the competition began, or even before that.

you are joking... right?  what if I entered 5 beers, or 15, or 50?  How am I to know which made it through the gauntlet and which fell by the wayside?  I am still waiting for results from you or in the mail, and am WAY under a reasonable timeframe to rebrew a great beer in time to ship for the final round. 

I would hate to have your job right now, with, literally, hundreds of brewers waiting and grumbling at you every day.

What I don't understand is why you can't release the results when you get them.  There is not a fairness issue - you either moved ahead in your region, or you did not.  Since you could only enter one region this year, there is no advantage or disadvantage to knowing the results as soon as possible.  You can develop your database and entry numbers and such after the fact - most just want to know if they made it or not.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: markaberrant on May 05, 2011, 01:12:14 AM
If you wanted to re-brew, you have had every opportunity to do so since the competition began, or even before that.

you are joking... right?  what if I entered 5 beers, or 15, or 50?  How am I to know which made it through the gauntlet and which fell by the wayside?  I am still waiting for results from you or in the mail, and am WAY under a reasonable timeframe to rebrew a great beer in time to ship for the final round.

Quit splitting hairs, it seems like everyone is looking for a reason to complain about this year's NHC.  Take some personal responsibility and plan your brewing accordingly if it is that bloody important.

Competition sure brings out the best in people.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: hopfenundmalz on May 05, 2011, 01:21:35 AM
As the Boyscouts say, "Be prepared".

If you were so sure of your beer, you should have rebrewed.  At least you would have more on hand to drink if it did not move on.

If you only entered big beers or lagers, all I can say is chill and RDWHAHB.  The rebrew thing can be done, but is not done all of the time.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: wingnut on May 05, 2011, 01:57:27 AM
If you wanted to re-brew, you have had every opportunity to do so since the competition began, or even before that.

you are joking... right?  what if I entered 5 beers, or 15, or 50?  How am I to know which made it through the gauntlet and which fell by the wayside?  I am still waiting for results from you or in the mail, and am WAY under a reasonable timeframe to rebrew a great beer in time to ship for the final round.

Quit splitting hairs, it seems like everyone is looking for a reason to complain about this year's NHC.  Take some personal responsibility and plan your brewing accordingly if it is that bloody important.

Competition sure brings out the best in people.


Here is kind of the genius of this year...

You could enter your beers in any region.  It has long been known that some regions judge before others.  Typically the west coast has their sheets back while in the midwest... we have to wait for the full release to know if we placed or not. 

This year, though, you could have entered your beer in ANY region.  Next year, just enter your beer in the region that is judged first if you are that worried about it.

This issue you speak of has been present for many years... it is just the nature of the competition.  You can either choose to embrace the competition for what it is... the biggest, the most, and the best... going head to head. 

So accept the logistics that come with it... or just enter in something smaller that does not have the logistics involved.

Choose wisely...  I chose to sit this year out... and I miss the excitement greatly!!!
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: bluesman on May 05, 2011, 02:20:52 AM
As the Boyscouts say, "Be prepared".

If you were so sure of your beer, you should have rebrewed.  At least you would have more on hand to drink if it did not move on.

If you only entered big beers or lagers, all I can say is chill and RDWHAHB.  The rebrew thing can be done, but is not done all of the time.

Agreed Jeff.

I'm just as anxious as the next guy but as Janis has indicated, we are still on track to determine the first round winners as we did at the same time last year.

In the words of the great Charlie P.

RDWHAHB  :)
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: johnf on May 05, 2011, 02:59:06 AM
As the Boyscouts say, "Be prepared".

If you were so sure of your beer, you should have rebrewed.  At least you would have more on hand to drink if it did not move on.

If you only entered big beers or lagers, all I can say is chill and RDWHAHB.  The rebrew thing can be done, but is not done all of the time.

Eh, it's impossible to tell what beers will get through. I'll be a Master judge in a couple of months and of the 7 I got through, 1 was among the 5 I thought were best. It's a crapshoot, no use pretending otherwise.

I entered a bunch of the NHC beers in a regional competition that I also judged. The 2nd place fruit beer from the Dallas first round was vocally ridiculed by a judge at the regional comp. The 3rd place BOS at the regional comp scored around 30 at Dallas.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tom on May 05, 2011, 04:54:07 AM
Yeah, someone thought my American Barleywine was too hoppy!   ;)

And a beginner judge recommended that I thin my RIS with water!   ???

My ginger ale was last in our homebrew club competition in February, but it was touch and go for first or second in the NHC 1st round.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tschmidlin on May 05, 2011, 05:00:43 AM
Yeah, someone thought my American Barleywine was too hoppy!   ;)

And a beginner judge recommended that I thin my RIS with water!   ???

My ginger ale was last in our homebrew club competition in February, but it was touch and go for first or second in the NHC 1st round.
Yeah, you get some boneheaded comments from judges.  I've had judges tasting the same beer say it was "bone dry" and "cloyingly sweet".  ::)  But if they both give it a 30 it doesn't really matter to me if they can't phrase why it's not a great bottle, it's not going to advance.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: jeffy on May 05, 2011, 11:36:45 AM
Yeah, someone thought my American Barleywine was too hoppy!   ;)

And a beginner judge recommended that I thin my RIS with water!   ???

My ginger ale was last in our homebrew club competition in February, but it was touch and go for first or second in the NHC 1st round.
Yeah, you get some boneheaded comments from judges.  I've had judges tasting the same beer say it was "bone dry" and "cloyingly sweet".  ::)  But if they both give it a 30 it doesn't really matter to me if they can't phrase why it's not a great bottle, it's not going to advance.
There was an award winning brew at GABF one year called "Most Beer Judges Are Boneheads Pils."
You win some and you lose some - different judge different day.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tntjr on May 05, 2011, 01:03:55 PM
Yeah, someone thought my American Barleywine was too hoppy!   ;)

And a beginner judge recommended that I thin my RIS with water!   ???

My ginger ale was last in our homebrew club competition in February, but it was touch and go for first or second in the NHC 1st round.
Yeah, you get some boneheaded comments from judges.  I've had judges tasting the same beer say it was "bone dry" and "cloyingly sweet".  ::)  But if they both give it a 30 it doesn't really matter to me if they can't phrase why it's not a great bottle, it's not going to advance.

...it doesn't really matter to me if they can't phrase why it's not a great bottle,

But that's the whole point to me. If there are objective reasons that my beer didn't win I want to know what they are, that's why I entered the contest in the first place.  I have so many score sheets that do a great job of providing a sensory evaluation of my beer but fail to make a single comment on how it deviated from the judges ideal for the style. I appreciate the you gave my beer a 36 but what I really want to know is where did I lose 14 points?

For example, I recently entered an Irish Red Ale. The BJCP gives this description for aroma:
Aroma: Low to medium malty sweetness, sometimes accentuated by low to moderate kettle caramelization. Some examples have a low hop aroma, light fruitiness, low diacetyl, and/or a low to moderate peaty aroma (all are optional). The peaty aroma is sometimes perceived as earthy, smoky or very lightly roasted.

Here are one of the judge's notes:
Aroma: Malty up front with a toast note and very light roast, no hops or esters which is OK for the style.

...and he gave the beer 8 of 12 points. Where did this beer lose 4 points? Why did this beer only reach 66% of your ideal for this category? The judges notes don't seem to vary from the guideline yet 8% of the total score was lost in this area.

I really appreciate that the judges are doing a great job of tasting the beers. Their ability to taste and describe the beers is more nuanced and accurate than ever, but there are few if any comments that I can use to improve the beers.

So judges, please feel free to give me your constructive negative criticism. I know I'm doing a competent job of brewing to the style, I need to know exactly what your looking for in this style that you didn't get from my beer.

Tom
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tschmidlin on May 05, 2011, 05:02:37 PM
Good points tntjr, I probably could have phrased what I meant better.  Obviously the whole point of BJCP training is to teach people to do a better job tasting and judging beers, and one of the main goals is to give good feedback to entrants.  But there is a level of subjectivity to judging that is less than ideal.  When Jeff points out (correctly) that "You win some and you lose some - different judge different day" it makes it difficult to always take the comments of the judges to heart.  If it was more consistent that would be great, but that's not the way it works.

For example, let's say that a judge says your IPA isn't bitter enough.  Do you immediately change your recipe and up the IBUs?  What if that was their 8th IPA of the flight, and the one immediately before was too bitter and thin?  What if it was the first beer and they just finished their coffee?  What if that judge just prefers an IPA with higher IBUs?  Training can help eliminate some of these problems, but you can't eliminate order bias in our judging format.  Winning or losing one competition doesn't mean anything, winning consistently does.  So getting feedback from one set of judges is of limited use in my opinion, but getting similar feedback from several sets is very useful.

As for those specific scoresheets, the judge mentions malt, toast, and roast.  The description doesn't mention toast, it mentions sweetness and caramelization.  Maybe that is what the judge thought was missing. :-\
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: johnf on May 05, 2011, 05:14:51 PM
Winning or losing one competition doesn't mean anything, winning consistently does.  So getting feedback from one set of judges is of limited use in my opinion, but getting similar feedback from several sets is very useful.


Bingo. People think that people who enter are just trying to win a bunch of medals. I enter a bunch of competitions with a batch so I get enough feedback that I can interpret it and make a change. The only awards displayed in our home are BoS and regional circuit type stuff. The medals/ribbons are in a pile somewhere. Fun to win but I don't really want the medals (unless they are super awesome like the Hoppy Halloween ones).
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tomsawyer on May 05, 2011, 07:02:33 PM
Bingo. People think that people who enter are just trying to win a bunch of medals. I enter a bunch of competitions with a batch so I get enough feedback that I can interpret it and make a change. The only awards displayed in our home are BoS and regional circuit type stuff. The medals/ribbons are in a pile somewhere. Fun to win but I don't really want the medals (unless they are super awesome like the Hoppy Halloween ones).

Are you kidding?!  I wear my one second place medal from KCBM around every day.  People look at you kind of funny but who cares.  When they ask (and mostly they don't) I sometimes even lie and tell them its a first place medal, because it could have been first place if not for that other stupid tasty beer.

If you're a club member, you can always seek the opinions of the other members on your brew.  Seems like that would be a simpler way to garner more feedback, albeit possibly less trained.  If we are criticizing the level of training of the average BJCP judge anyway, then what the heck.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: brandon on May 05, 2011, 07:22:50 PM
This is where I have a problem with the current "release" schedule...

You have your results and can prepare for the second round.  I am still waiting.  There is no reason to hold all results until all regions are recieved and then posted - fairness is not an argument, as demonstrated here.  >:(

release the Kraken!
I agree it does give some an advantage. Some folks have already rebrewed for the second round (me) and others still don't know what advanced (practically everyone else in my HB club, they all used Nashville where I used Dallas).  On the other hand, it does suck when everybody has to wait for that one region that's dragging it's feet.
Dragging it's feet now until....next weekend.

It would be funny if it didn't affect so many people.

And to be clear...John is not referring to Nashville, our beer judging was completed on the 26th. Ciders held us up for a few days until I got the proper pallets to judge that style. They were done on the morning of the 30th, the DB was emailed in the afternoon to the AHA. BJCP reports has already been submitted too
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tntjr on May 05, 2011, 07:36:18 PM
Good points tntjr, I probably could have phrased what I meant better.  Obviously the whole point of BJCP training is to teach people to do a better job tasting and judging beers, and one of the main goals is to give good feedback to entrants.  But there is a level of subjectivity to judging that is less than ideal.  When Jeff points out (correctly) that "You win some and you lose some - different judge different day" it makes it difficult to always take the comments of the judges to heart.  If it was more consistent that would be great, but that's not the way it works.

For example, let's say that a judge says your IPA isn't bitter enough.  Do you immediately change your recipe and up the IBUs?  What if that was their 8th IPA of the flight, and the one immediately before was too bitter and thin?  What if it was the first beer and they just finished their coffee?  What if that judge just prefers an IPA with higher IBUs?  Training can help eliminate some of these problems, but you can't eliminate order bias in our judging format.  Winning or losing one competition doesn't mean anything, winning consistently does.  So getting feedback from one set of judges is of limited use in my opinion, but getting similar feedback from several sets is very useful.

As for those specific scoresheets, the judge mentions malt, toast, and roast.  The description doesn't mention toast, it mentions sweetness and caramelization.  Maybe that is what the judge thought was missing. :-\

I understand there are subjective factors to the scores and I expect that, but I shouldn't have to guess what the judge's criteria, subjective or objective were. Tell me exactly how you feel this beer fell short of your ideal 50 point beer.

I may not change my recipe based on one set of scores but if I start to see a trend then I'll have to acknowledge that my interpretation of the style differs from the consensus. I can then change the recipe if I want to score high and win contests or I can keep brewing what I have been and accept that my goals for this style differ from the consensus.

Tom
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: johnf on May 05, 2011, 07:42:23 PM
This is where I have a problem with the current "release" schedule...

You have your results and can prepare for the second round.  I am still waiting.  There is no reason to hold all results until all regions are recieved and then posted - fairness is not an argument, as demonstrated here.  >:(

release the Kraken!
I agree it does give some an advantage. Some folks have already rebrewed for the second round (me) and others still don't know what advanced (practically everyone else in my HB club, they all used Nashville where I used Dallas).  On the other hand, it does suck when everybody has to wait for that one region that's dragging it's feet.
Dragging it's feet now until....next weekend.

It would be funny if it didn't affect so many people.

And to be clear...John is not referring to Nashville, our beer judging was completed on the 26th. Ciders held us up for a few days until I got the proper pallets to judge that style. They were done on the morning of the 30th, the DB was emailed in the afternoon to the AHA. BJCP reports has already been submitted too

I can see how you would read it that way, I definitely meant Saratoga.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: spointon on May 05, 2011, 07:52:21 PM
One of my favorite recent judge comments was (on a Belgian Dark Strong Ale): "Though the style guideline provides for the level of sweetness you have in this beer, I prefer the drier examples of this style."  I was blown away that he basically acknowledged that one aspect of my beer fell within the guidelines but outside his personal taste preferences,and then dinged me for it... ???   
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: brandon on May 05, 2011, 08:05:12 PM
Wow did you email him or the comp organizer? If BJCP I would let them know
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: bluesman on May 05, 2011, 08:18:20 PM
Wow did you email him or the comp organizer? If BJCP I would let them know

+1

That's a clear violation of BJCP ethics. I suggest you cantact the organizer a.s.a.p.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: spointon on May 05, 2011, 08:21:41 PM
Nah, judges are human beings and as such they will always bring their own prejudices to the table.  BJCP training is excellent, but just because someone "has" the knowledge to be impartial and set their own tastes aside, it doesn't mean they will.  His was a glaring example because he was dumb enough to write that down, but this sort of stuff is endemic and just comes with the territory unfortunately.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: mabrungard on May 05, 2011, 08:25:23 PM
One of my favorite recent judge comments was (on a Belgian Dark Strong Ale): "Though the style guideline provides for the level of sweetness you have in this beer, I prefer the drier examples of this style."  I was blown away that he basically acknowledged that one aspect of my beer fell within the guidelines but outside his personal taste preferences,and then dinged me for it... ???   

I don't think there is much wrong with the judge's comment and that goes to the heart of what I feel is difficult to express on the judging forms...the beer is good and meets the style guidelines, but I don't really prefer it.  Its that subjectivity that is hard to put into words.   I've judged plenty of beers that didn't do ANYTHING wrong, but that just didn't have the nuances, perceptions, and enjoyment that would put the beer on top.  In some ways, the Best of Show judging is a perfect case in point.  Its not that the beer in front of you is well brewed and to style, it also has to have those special touches.  Unfortunately, I can't define exactly what those touches are, but I know them when presented with a flight of beers that are compared directly.  (this harks back to the line: 'can you define pornography...no, but I know it when I see it')
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: spointon on May 05, 2011, 08:39:30 PM
I agree completely with what mabrungard is saying when it comes down to picking a best of show beer or even which of the top 3 in a flight will win the flight.  What bothers me is this:  I brew a lot of medium to strong Belgian ales (7%-12% abv) that are bottle conditioned and meant to survive and improve during cellaring.  For the beer in question I received a score of 42 in a competition one month, and 6 weeks later (an insignificant amount of time for a beer like this) I get what I described in my earlier post and a score of 27.  Wow. 
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: jlap on May 05, 2011, 09:16:37 PM
I agree completely with what mabrungard is saying when it comes down to picking a best of show beer or even which of the top 3 in a flight will win the flight.  What bothers me is this:  I brew a lot of medium to strong Belgian ales (7%-12% abv) that are bottle conditioned and meant to survive and improve during cellaring.  For the beer in question I received a score of 42 in a competition one month, and 6 weeks later (an insignificant amount of time for a beer like this) I get what I described in my earlier post and a score of 27.  Wow. 

I can sympathize with your frustration from my own experiences entering competitions.  Sometimes you get a pair of judges that just don't give you a fair shake.  It's the most irritating when they don't seem to have put in any effort. 

I've judged in 5 or 6 competitions and recently took the exam.  Do you have any judging experience?  If not, I would just like to add to your contemplation of these divergent scores that factors like fatigue, the quality of the beers surrounding yours in the flight, and judge preferences can play a major role.  I don't think there's really any such thing as purely objective evaluation. 

What I've seen is that the majority of beers that are well made and basically fit the style score in the low-mid 30's, say 31-35.  That area is kind of the generic "good beer zone".  It might get you a 3rd in a good size competition.  Trying to get out of that range is a major hump in competition.  I agree that your scores are more divergent than you'd expect them to be for that kind of beer in that time frame.  If the judges didn't list a notable technical or stylistic flaw, I don't think you should have scored below 30.  However, a 42 is a very good score, about as high as anyone ever gets in reality, and could reflect the preferences of the judges for a beer like the one you entered or the number of poor entries in your flight.  If you had gotten a 42 and then a 33 I would not have been too suprised.  Leaving the scores aside, did the judges who gave you the 42 demostrate a higher level of interest and ability in their comments?  If so, you're probably closer to that score in reality.  Entering it again somewhere else will give you a clearer picture.

As a new judge, I really try to focus on writing quality comments and talking with the other judge/s to make sure that the beer ends up in the right general score range of fair, good, very good, and excellent listed on the BJCP score sheet.  It's just so easy to lose the forest for the trees when scoring.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tschmidlin on May 05, 2011, 09:22:31 PM
I agree completely with what mabrungard is saying when it comes down to picking a best of show beer or even which of the top 3 in a flight will win the flight.  What bothers me is this:  I brew a lot of medium to strong Belgian ales (7%-12% abv) that are bottle conditioned and meant to survive and improve during cellaring.  For the beer in question I received a score of 42 in a competition one month, and 6 weeks later (an insignificant amount of time for a beer like this) I get what I described in my earlier post and a score of 27.  Wow.  
That might not have anything to do with your beer, it could be bottle to bottle or judge to judge variation.  I've had the same beer score 45 and 24 in two different comps.  It happens.  Like we talked about in the other thread, there is order bias as well.  The smells in the room.  Too many variables to control really, but the judges are doing their best.

Assuming no off flavors you shouldn't get a 27 for it being a little too sweet, especially if it is otherwise within the guidelines.  I think the comment is ok in the Overall section, because that is where the big picture comes in.  A beer might fit the guidelines but still be lacking, and as Martin points out, it can be hard to spell out exactly what is missing.  For a 27 you should be able to spell it out though.

Then again, sometimes I'll write down comments and not actually take points off for something.  I'm just writing down what I think of the beer.  If I say it is within the guidelines but state a preference, that doesn't mean I deducted anything, I'm just saying what I think would make it better.  For whatever that's worth.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: anthony on May 05, 2011, 10:09:26 PM
One of my favorite recent judge comments was (on a Belgian Dark Strong Ale): "Though the style guideline provides for the level of sweetness you have in this beer, I prefer the drier examples of this style."  I was blown away that he basically acknowledged that one aspect of my beer fell within the guidelines but outside his personal taste preferences,and then dinged me for it... ???   

I don't think there is much wrong with the judge's comment and that goes to the heart of what I feel is difficult to express on the judging forms...the beer is good and meets the style guidelines, but I don't really prefer it.  Its that subjectivity that is hard to put into words.   I've judged plenty of beers that didn't do ANYTHING wrong, but that just didn't have the nuances, perceptions, and enjoyment that would put the beer on top.  In some ways, the Best of Show judging is a perfect case in point.  Its not that the beer in front of you is well brewed and to style, it also has to have those special touches.  Unfortunately, I can't define exactly what those touches are, but I know them when presented with a flight of beers that are compared directly.  (this harks back to the line: 'can you define pornography...no, but I know it when I see it')

A few years back, I was judging in a competition with a judge and I said essentially this exact same thing... now granted, I'm not in the BJCP, but I've entered/judged my fair of competitions and traveled to a few beer destinations... I said that in my mind, all things being equal in regards to the general gist of a beer's compliance with stylistic guidelines, that drinkability earned a few points when I evaluated a beer.... boy did he crucify me.. not only that, he wrote a very verbose letter to the organizer and a few BJCP officers informing them that I wasn't judging according to the guidelines and how dare I "actually say to him something like "this is about what I would enjoy drinking, [not about strict adherence to the artificial guidelines]".

A couple things happened as a result of that... I lost pretty much all interest in actually taking the BJCP exam, and I lost alot of my motivation to judge at that particular competition.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tschmidlin on May 05, 2011, 10:17:53 PM
A few years back, I was judging in a competition with a judge and I said essentially this exact same thing... now granted, I'm not in the BJCP, but I've entered/judged my fair of competitions and traveled to a few beer destinations... I said that in my mind, all things being equal in regards to the general gist of a beer's compliance with stylistic guidelines, that drinkability earned a few points when I evaluated a beer.... boy did he crucify me.. not only that, he wrote a very verbose letter to the organizer and a few BJCP officers informing them that I wasn't judging according to the guidelines and how dare I "actually say to him something like "this is about what I would enjoy drinking, [not about strict adherence to the artificial guidelines]".

A couple things happened as a result of that... I lost pretty much all interest in actually taking the BJCP exam, and I lost alot of my motivation to judge at that particular competition.
It's kind of hard to reconcile that attitude with the Beer Scoresheet, specifically the Overall Impression section.

"Comment on overall drinking pleasure associated with entry, give suggestions for improvement"

It seems pretty clear to me.  Pleasure is subjective, and it lets the judge capture the intangibles in the scoring.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: anthony on May 05, 2011, 10:35:00 PM
Maybe they really enjoyed drinking beers that exactly line up with the guidelines... "mmm.. 20-28 IBUs never tasted so good."
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: markaberrant on May 05, 2011, 10:38:05 PM
I try to always offer my personal opinion in the overall impression section, it is about the only section that allows you some freedom to speak your mind and offer some feedback.  My comments in the other sections are purely descriptive of the beer's characteristics (or lack of characteristics), and how they relate to the style guidelines, and then score accordingly.

There are a lot of beers that are pretty much brewed to style and fit the guidelines, but may not be outstanding or noteworthy in my opinion, yet a different judge under different circumstances may think otherwise.  There are a litany of factors that can influence this.  I know it may break someone's heart to hear this, but that is the way it goes.  Enter multiple comps, and continue entering those comps where you have been satisified with the quality and detail of the scoresheets.

I would be a lot happier if my beer scored a 27 and had a ton of feedback, vs a score of 42 and poor feedback.  We just finished up the Canadian Region, and I have already been contacted by several entrants who were very happy with their scoresheets, even those that did not win, as they found our judges' feedback very helpful.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 05, 2011, 11:04:10 PM
I appreciate the you gave my beer a 36 but what I really want to know is where did I lose 14 points?

Sadly, that's the toughest sort of feedback to give.  Any judge will do a decent job of detecting obvious faults, the better judges are good at picking up subtle problems and minor style faults. It's a rare judge that's both a good enough taster and a  good enough brewer to give you ideas on how to make a good beer great.

If it makes you feel any better, your beer didn't "lose" 14 points. It probably lost more like 9 points. That's because most judges mentally reserve scores of 45-50 for hypothetical "perfect" beers. I've described these top level beers as:

41-45 - "Angels helped to brew this beer."
45-49 - "You hear angels singing when you drink this beer."
50 - "Choirs of angels sing, the clouds open, rays of heavenly light beam down, the hand of God points down and a booming celestial voice says, "I'LL HAVE THAT ONE!"

Whether it's fair or not, many judges don't want to get too far away from that magic 7 point range needed for consensus judging, so they hedge their bets a bit. On their own, a judge might say, "that's a 39-40 point beer", but they might not want to go out on a limb to defend their decision to the other judge, so they score the beer a little closer to the middle of the "Very Good" range at 36. If your beer was at the beginning of the flight, the judges might also want to be a bit cautious with their scoring to leave a bit more room at the top of the range for a better beer later in the flight.

Judges scores are also biased by other factors - rebound effect/halo effect from a particularly good/bad beer tasted just previously, upward/downward bias in scores over the course of the flight (possibly influenced by the fact that the beers later in the flight have more time to warm), judges' like/dislike of the style, judges' familiarity with the style and time of day (Really! Tasters go for maltier beers when they're hungry). I also think that season and temperature in the judging hall plays a big role.

Finally, while it's grossly unfair, I think that there's something of a bias against certain styles of beer. It's easier to detect all the qualities that make a great Barleywine, American IPA or Belgian Strong great because they're bigger, more emphatic, showier beers. By contrast, it's harder to detect greatness in more balanced, lightly-flavored "table beers" like Irish Red or Belgian Pale Ale.

My guess is that, at the level you're at, you've got no process or technique faults. You're using the right ingredients and tools and you know your equipment well. What you need is more experience with subtle tweaks and recipe formulations. In those respects, you're probably ahead of me in brewing skill.

When I judge a beer at the upper end of "very good" range (35-39 score), I'm saying it's comparable to most commercial craft beer. What I'd want at that level to make it even better is:

1) Big complex aroma - if appropriate for the style. Even for styles where big aroma is a fault, I still want something interesting going on there. It should be complex, interesting and inviting.

2) Aroma carries into flavor. Basically, the aroma is the promise of what you get when you taste the beer. It sucks when your expectations are let down by flavor which doesn't match the aroma to some degree.

3) A flavor profile that "peaks". All foods have flavor profile with a beginning, a middle, a finish and an aftertaste. A really great food has a profile where the beginning quickly "bursts" into a massive, complex unified middle, then fades away pleasantly in the finish and aftertaste. I think of it as being like a firework - shell goes up, BOOM! lots of light and sound, sparks and squiggles of light shower down.

If I could create recipes that do this on a regular basis, I'd be brewing beer by the hectoliter and getting paid for it, so I'm not the guy to ask how to do it. All I can say is that it takes a LOT of recipe tweaking. You're wanting your ingredients to stand out, but also to work together, and you're wanting the flavors from all those ingredients to all peak at once.

4) Drinkability. Is this a beer I could drink all night, or would I choose something else? Are there little, subtle problems that turn me off? A bit stale? A bit solventy? A bit to harsh in the finish? Again, more recipe tweaking and lots of frustrating equipment and process tweaks.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: hopfenundmalz on May 05, 2011, 11:15:41 PM
As the Boyscouts say, "Be prepared".

If you were so sure of your beer, you should have rebrewed.  At least you would have more on hand to drink if it did not move on.

If you only entered big beers or lagers, all I can say is chill and RDWHAHB.  The rebrew thing can be done, but is not done all of the time.

Eh, it's impossible to tell what beers will get through. I'll be a Master judge in a couple of months and of the 7 I got through, 1 was among the 5 I thought were best. It's a crapshoot, no use pretending otherwise.

I entered a bunch of the NHC beers in a regional competition that I also judged. The 2nd place fruit beer from the Dallas first round was vocally ridiculed by a judge at the regional comp. The 3rd place BOS at the regional comp scored around 30 at Dallas.
I should have said that you should rebrew beers like a German wheat that does not stay at its peak for too long.

Many others styles are not so time sensitive.  I have 3 going on.  Only one I would consider rebrewing, and it is holding up well.  One of my friends with 3 national medals always says - "It is a crapshoot".  We had one that we really liked, and was not scored well.  Whatever.   

Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 06, 2011, 12:01:03 AM
I agree completely with what mabrungard is saying when it comes down to picking a best of show beer or even which of the top 3 in a flight will win the flight.  What bothers me is this:  I brew a lot of medium to strong Belgian ales (7%-12% abv) that are bottle conditioned and meant to survive and improve during cellaring.  For the beer in question I received a score of 42 in a competition one month, and 6 weeks later (an insignificant amount of time for a beer like this) I get what I described in my earlier post and a score of 27.

Snarky comment by the judge aside, it is possible that something happened to your beer in the intervening 6 weeks? Aged beers don't consistently get better with age. They hit peaks and valleys and sometimes slide slowly towards oblivion rather than improving. The poor feedback you got the second time around could be a sign of a flavor instability problem. A Belgian dark strong could drop from being "brewery fresh" to being "dull" or "stale" in 6 weeks, maybe even picking up some cardboard or leathery notes, after 6 months or so, as oxidation progressed, it would pick up more pleasant aged dark fruit and sherry notes.

With the sort of beers you're brewing, flavor stability is a huge issue, so you need to be really careful about getting good hot and cold break (to avoid the sort of fatty acids that can throw sweaty or goaty flavors, or complex with ) and not getting oxygen into your fermenting wort/beer.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: narvin on May 06, 2011, 02:28:42 AM
One of my favorite recent judge comments was (on a Belgian Dark Strong Ale): "Though the style guideline provides for the level of sweetness you have in this beer, I prefer the drier examples of this style."  I was blown away that he basically acknowledged that one aspect of my beer fell within the guidelines but outside his personal taste preferences,and then dinged me for it... ???    


So, you were within the style guidelines... that's like hitting the broad side of a barn.  Many of the well regarded Belgian Dark Strongs are dry (the Trappists hit 87-88% AA).   Just because a dozen beers are listed in the guidelines as being of this style does not mean they can't range from 35 - 45 point beers.  I think "I prefer" could be shorthand for "It is generally accepted that many exemplary beers of this style are"...

Guidelines are just guidelines.  Does every beer with no apparent flaws that fits the huge range of parameters allowed for most styles score a 50?  Absolutely not... being "to style" means nothing more than not being disqualified.  There are technical aspects, but also asthetic... otherwise, we could simply use a lab analysis to do scoring.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: bluesman on May 06, 2011, 02:30:56 AM
One of my favorite recent judge comments was (on a Belgian Dark Strong Ale): "Though the style guideline provides for the level of sweetness you have in this beer, I prefer the drier examples of this style."  I was blown away that he basically acknowledged that one aspect of my beer fell within the guidelines but outside his personal taste preferences,and then dinged me for it... ???   

My main concern with this is that the beer was potentially dinged for the judges personal preference and not by the beer's actual adherance to the standard, if this is the case then I am suggesting this to be inappropriate and should be called out. I would start by emailing the judge and asking for an explanation as to how the score was manipulated based upon this comment. IMO, making comments based upon the judges personal opinion of the beer in the "Overall Impression" are well and good, however inappropriately dinging a beer by scoring it against one's own personal tastes and not the standards by which it should be judged against is unacceptable practice and should be brought to the attention of the competition organizer.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tntjr on May 06, 2011, 02:35:05 AM
I appreciate the you gave my beer a 36 but what I really want to know is where did I lose 14 points?

Sadly, that's the toughest sort of feedback to give.  Any judge will do a decent job of detecting obvious faults, the better judges are good at picking up subtle problems and minor style faults. It's a rare judge that's both a good enough taster and a  good enough brewer to give you ideas on how to make a good beer great.

If it makes you feel any better, your beer didn't "lose" 14 points. It probably lost more like 9 points. That's because most judges mentally reserve scores of 45-50 for hypothetical "perfect" beers. I've described these top level beers as:

...
My guess is that, at the level you're at, you've got no process or technique faults. You're using the right ingredients and tools and you know your equipment well. What you need is more experience with subtle tweaks and recipe formulations...

Thank you for the very thoughtful reply. The reluctance to score 45-50 explains a lot. I was also trying to be modest, the beer I was quoting from actually scored a 40 and moved on to the second round. Being that close to the maximum likely score explains the lack of much concrete criticism.

Thanks.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: macbrews on May 06, 2011, 02:38:52 AM
I had a beer win a gold in the MCAB.   2 weeks later in a different competition it got a 28.5 and was described as "lifeless and not to style".  First round of the AHA the same beer got a 40.  Same batch, same bottling.  So who was right?
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: narvin on May 06, 2011, 02:52:48 AM
One of my favorite recent judge comments was (on a Belgian Dark Strong Ale): "Though the style guideline provides for the level of sweetness you have in this beer, I prefer the drier examples of this style."  I was blown away that he basically acknowledged that one aspect of my beer fell within the guidelines but outside his personal taste preferences,and then dinged me for it... ???    

My main concern with this is that the beer was potentially dinged for the judges personal preference and not by the beer's actual adherance to the standard, if this is the case then I am suggesting this to be inappropriate and should be called out. I would start by emailing the judge and asking for an explanation as to how the score was manipulated based upon this comment. IMO, making comments based upon the judges personal opinion of the beer in the "Overall Impression" are well and good, however inappropriately dinging a beer by scoring it against one's own personal tastes and not the standards by which it should be judged against is unacceptable practice and should be brought to the attention of the competition organizer.

I really think that this is a bit absurd.  I prefer drier tasting BDSAs too because they are generally the better ones  :)  But despite that, do judges not have discretion to determine what is a 30 point beer and what is a 45 point beer by taste when they both fit the guidelines?

It's hard to convey the essence of a beer in a BJCP writeup, which is why I think you can't really learn about beer just from reading the BJCP.  The standard for this style is that it should be "digestable" (to quote Marc Limet) .  Sweeter versions exist, and can be done well, but I think it's harder to do.  Also, you should know that FG does not correlate directly to sweetness because there is a difference in taste between a beer with a lot of dextrines and simply an under-attenuated beer (the type of residual sugar left is different), and also the sensory perception of dry is dependent on other things like bitterness, body, etc.  The judge is talking about the taste of the beer, as he/she does not have a hydrometer.  Chances are that even if your FG was withing style guideliness, it tasted too sweet.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tschmidlin on May 06, 2011, 05:27:24 AM
I had a beer win a gold in the MCAB.   2 weeks later in a different competition it got a 28.5 and was described as "lifeless and not to style".  First round of the AHA the same beer got a 40.  Same batch, same bottling.  So who was right?
All three were right, for the bottle in front of them under the circumstances at the time.  But the fact that 2 out of 3 scored it well tells me that it was better than a 28.5, so something may have happened to that bottle.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: anthony on May 06, 2011, 05:56:37 AM
One of my favorite recent judge comments was (on a Belgian Dark Strong Ale): "Though the style guideline provides for the level of sweetness you have in this beer, I prefer the drier examples of this style."  I was blown away that he basically acknowledged that one aspect of my beer fell within the guidelines but outside his personal taste preferences,and then dinged me for it... ???    


So, you were within the style guidelines... that's like hitting the broad side of a barn.  Many of the well regarded Belgian Dark Strongs are dry (the Trappists hit 87-88% AA).   Just because a dozen beers are listed in the guidelines as being of this style does not mean they can't range from 35 - 45 point beers.  I think "I prefer" could be shorthand for "It is generally accepted that many exemplary beers of this style are"...

Guidelines are just guidelines.  Does every beer with no apparent flaws that fits the huge range of parameters allowed for most styles score a 50?  Absolutely not... being "to style" means nothing more than not being disqualified.  There are technical aspects, but also asthetic... otherwise, we could simply use a lab analysis to do scoring.

Meh, the first beer listed in the BJCP guidelines for Belgian Strong Dark, when fresh, well treated, etc. better score 50... and the last beer (in BSDA) better score ~37... if I send in a Westy 12 fresh, well treated from the brewery, anything less than 50, to me at least, means there is some sort of uncalibrated scoring going on from novice judges... I mean honestly, it isn't my fault if everyone hasn't made it to In De Vrede to taste the beer, but if I see a Master level sort of judge on the scoresheet, I expect if they haven't at least made it to Belgium yet, they've had the opportunity to taste the 50 point example of this beer.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: spointon on May 06, 2011, 07:16:53 AM
Good point anthony!  I am not trying to drag down the whole of BJCP judging, I was merely illustrating that it is imperfect in its consistency.  Maybe I have a strong misconception, but I feel like the style guidelines exist to say "here is what must be evident in a classic example, and here is what will never be present in a classic example".  While I realize that authentic Trappist versions of BSDA beers are drier and more digestible, the abbey versions are recognized as being sweeter and that that is not a fault.

When a style definition specifically states this or that as acceptable, then it follows that the existence of that very thing should not be used as a means to lower a score or put one beer "under" another.  That would be like a judge saying that a kolsch has a low level of sulfur and they simply prefer a kolsch that does not display any sulfur...even though the style guideline specifically says "Some yeasts may give a slight winy or sulfury character (this characteristic is also optional, but not a fault)."

See where I am coming from?       

Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: gordonstrong on May 06, 2011, 12:35:22 PM
Judging is subjective.  Sometimes you get a bad draw.  Part of the game.  Two years ago, I had a robust porter score 44, 46, and 22 in three successive weeks. Guess which one of those weeks was the first round NHC?

On the BDSA example, the judge could have meant that although the individual components of the beer met ranges in the guidelines, that the overall beer didn't work as well.  That's a hard point to capture, for many judges as well (particularly ones who judge so close to the guidelines that they don't try a wide range of examples).  The "I prefer" bit could be trying to say how the balance should be tweaked, and to not interpret the individual changes as being something that would put it out of style.

Or they could not like Kasteel or Gulden Draak and couldn't wait to tell you.

The BJCP doesn't train judges per se.  It has a system for evaluation, and a lot of training materials.  Many people use them as part of training, but the results vary widely.  There is no one way to judge, just like there is no one way to brew.  Teaching one method as The Way is not something I want to see.  The exam (should) measure how competent judges are based on how they practice their craft.  That is what we care about.

If you don't like BJCP style judging, you should try going to a beer festival and seeing what is selected as people's choice.  Or read one of those beer review type sites and see which beers are consistently ranked as best.  Then imagine how your beer would be ranked using one of those methods.  Reminds me of the Winston Churchill quote, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried."  If you've got a better way to judge beer, let me know.  Seriously.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: johnf on May 06, 2011, 12:54:28 PM


If you don't like BJCP style judging, you should try going to a beer festival and seeing what is selected as people's choice.  Or read one of those beer review type sites and see which beers are consistently ranked as best.  Then imagine how your beer would be ranked using one of those methods.  Reminds me of the Winston Churchill quote, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried."  If you've got a better way to judge beer, let me know.  Seriously.

That would really simplify judging if we followed the rating site method. Brewers wouldn't even need to send in beer. You just need the style, whether or not it was barrel aged, what type of barrel, and how rare it is.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: gordonstrong on May 06, 2011, 12:56:51 PM


If you don't like BJCP style judging, you should try going to a beer festival and seeing what is selected as people's choice.  Or read one of those beer review type sites and see which beers are consistently ranked as best.  Then imagine how your beer would be ranked using one of those methods.  Reminds me of the Winston Churchill quote, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried."  If you've got a better way to judge beer, let me know.  Seriously.

That would really simplify judging if we followed the rating site method. Brewers wouldn't even need to send in beer. You just need the style, whether or not it was barrel aged, what type of barrel, and how rare it is.

Or "is it an imperial stout?"  "No"  "You lose"
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: hosedragger on May 06, 2011, 01:08:12 PM
WOW !! I was the original post on this subject.It was my first ever post to this forum. It has certainly taken on  a direction I did not anticipate. I just wanted an answer to what I thought was a simple question. Lets see.... it went from a couple of legitimate answers and congratulations to the newbie brewer (me) to bashing AHA it's rules, It's procedures, It' judges, It's competition director (sorry Janis). You people scare me and I am not sure I will participate in this forum again. In my youth I competed in and coached sports. Sportsmanship was the greatest lesson to be taught and learned. Not much of it here. Sorry for the post. :(
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: tomsawyer on May 06, 2011, 01:40:23 PM
Once an answer is gained in a thread, it can often take a turn and go off on a tangent.  I wouldn't be too put off by a display of the passion for this hobby that many people have.  This is one of the best brewing forums out there, in terms of knowledgable folks.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: jhwk on May 06, 2011, 01:45:50 PM
+1 To Tom, you got your answer and a few kudos to boot.

As brewers, we are passionate about our beer, otherwise, we would be BMC...  Don't be intimidated by the general populace.  They all have opinions and would love to tell you about them.  R,DW,HAHB  ;D

and it was a great first post, btw. :-*
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: hamiltont on May 06, 2011, 01:49:14 PM
It IS the best brewing forum IMO.  BUT, I'm starting to see an increased trend of ranting, and what almost appears to be personal attacks or strong willed opinions. Let's not get ourselves into that quagmire folks!  Cheers!!!
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: centpa on May 06, 2011, 01:53:28 PM
You people scare me and I am not sure I will participate in this forum again. In my youth I competed in and coached sports.

Then weren't you also taught to wear a cup?   ;)

Message boards can get that way. Having said that, I frequent other boards where this would have been considered the most cordial discussion ever.  Your post sparked some good discussion and debate. You should feel good, not scared.

(And yes I'm new to posting here, but I'm a 9 yr vet of homebrewing and have been lurking. )
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: bluesman on May 06, 2011, 02:01:03 PM
WOW !! I was the original post on this subject.It was my first ever post to this forum. It has certainly taken on  a direction I did not anticipate. I just wanted an answer to what I thought was a simple question. Lets see.... it went from a couple of legitimate answers and congratulations to the newbie brewer (me) to bashing AHA it's rules, It's procedures, It' judges, It's competition director (sorry Janis). You people scare me and I am not sure I will participate in this forum again. In my youth I competed in and coached sports. Sportsmanship was the greatest lesson to be taught and learned. Not much of it here. Sorry for the post. :(

Don't be alarmed by the responses. There has been a healthy discussion in regards to your question and it has only transitioned into further related discussion. This is a somewhat typical thread progression. Our membership is passionate about this and other relates topics. AFAIAC There were no "unsportmanlike" responses. The AHA forum can be quite interactive at times as folks present their information and opinions. Sometimes there is even humor injected into a thread topic but hopefully it will be taken with a grain of salt.
 
No need fo an apology. We welcome your post and hope you will continue to join us in the future. Welcome to the AHA Forum hosedragger.  :)
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: glastctbrew on May 06, 2011, 02:11:33 PM
WOW !! I was the original post on this subject.It was my first ever post to this forum. It has certainly taken on  a direction I did not anticipate. I just wanted an answer to what I thought was a simple question. Lets see.... it went from a couple of legitimate answers and congratulations to the newbie brewer (me) to bashing AHA it's rules, It's procedures, It' judges, It's competition director (sorry Janis). You people scare me and I am not sure I will participate in this forum again. In my youth I competed in and coached sports. Sportsmanship was the greatest lesson to be taught and learned. Not much of it here. Sorry for the post. :(

Never feel bad for asking a question!  And as others have pointed out, threads often go where the OP never foresaw.  It as been a healthy discussion and members of the AHA Governing Committee have been reading the thread and in some cases responding.  The NHC competition will not improve without feed back so IMHO you started a great thread!  It has also served the always useful purpose of providing an outlet for frustrations and as Shrek said (Yep, my kids had me watching Shrek last weekend so it came to mind) "Better out than in I always say."  :)

Oh yah, and GRATS  on making to the second round!
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: denny on May 06, 2011, 02:36:00 PM
One of my favorite recent judge comments was (on a Belgian Dark Strong Ale): "Though the style guideline provides for the level of sweetness you have in this beer, I prefer the drier examples of this style."  I was blown away that he basically acknowledged that one aspect of my beer fell within the guidelines but outside his personal taste preferences,and then dinged me for it... ???   

I've made comments like that in the overall impression section if the scoresheet, but I've never let my preferences affect the score I assign.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: johnf on May 06, 2011, 02:42:04 PM
One of my favorite recent judge comments was (on a Belgian Dark Strong Ale): "Though the style guideline provides for the level of sweetness you have in this beer, I prefer the drier examples of this style."  I was blown away that he basically acknowledged that one aspect of my beer fell within the guidelines but outside his personal taste preferences,and then dinged me for it... ???   

I've made comments like that in the overall impression section if the scoresheet, but I've never let my preferences affect the score I assign.

Me too, although I would rather say something like "while the sweetness is within the guidelines, it doesn't work to provide the best balance in this beer" or something like that so it doesn't come off as saying "this beer is awesome but I don't like it anyway". Sometimes when you are filling out ten scoresheets an hour you may not have time to craft the perfect presentation of what you are trying to say though.

So I can say that I don't love that phrasing but I understand that things don't always come out the way they would if you had a lot of time to think about what to say and I wouldn't want to recommend this judge for a spanking or anything without at least seeing the complete scoresheet.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: hopfenundmalz on May 06, 2011, 02:43:52 PM
There is the passion for the NHC, because it is the Nationals.  This is one we all look forward to.  It makes people competetive, but in a good way.   When a friend takes a medal it really makes you glad for them.  If you win a medal, you get quick texts and calls from people who were listening to the broadcast.



Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: dbeechum on May 06, 2011, 03:55:43 PM
I would rather say something like "while the sweetness is within the guidelines, it doesn't work to provide the best balance in this beer" or something like that so it doesn't come off as saying "this beer is awesome but I don't like it anyway".

This is good.

One thing I always teach in the BJCP classes that the Falcons put on is something similar to this and I think that it needs to be beaten into judge's heads.

Assuming a perfectly spherical judge in a vacuum, we can also assume that judge's intent is to communicate a sincere opinion on a submitted entry. (As in physics, we know how well those assumptions play out in the real world)

- How you choose to phrase something affects how well the brewer will receive it.

For instance, "use less roasted malt" will cause an entrant who used no roasted malt to say - "this daft git doesn't know what the hell he's talking about" Take the extra few seconds and offer the entrant - "there's a harsh roast-like acridness to the beer. Suggest either using less roasted grains or checking your water chemistry" This way, the brewer knows what you've perceived and why you're making the suggestion at hand.

The other thing that we need to do better, and again I think this is a flaw of how most training for the exam is done, don't focus solely on the negative. Judges, particularly newer judges fresh from the exam, spend most of their time hunting out the flaws and beating on the entrant for this, that and the other. If you're not offering positives, then why is the entrant going to look at doing any of this again? When I'm judging an entry, I try and record the raw impression and then synthesize it into positive commentary and pointed feedback.

Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: spointon on May 06, 2011, 06:55:18 PM
Judging is subjective.  Sometimes you get a bad draw.  Part of the game.  Two years ago, I had a robust porter score 44, 46, and 22 in three successive weeks. Guess which one of those weeks was the first round NHC?

On the BDSA example, the judge could have meant that although the individual components of the beer met ranges in the guidelines, that the overall beer didn't work as well.  That's a hard point to capture, for many judges as well (particularly ones who judge so close to the guidelines that they don't try a wide range of examples).  The "I prefer" bit could be trying to say how the balance should be tweaked, and to not interpret the individual changes as being something that would put it out of style.

Or they could not like Kasteel or Gulden Draak and couldn't wait to tell you.

The BJCP doesn't train judges per se.  It has a system for evaluation, and a lot of training materials.  Many people use them as part of training, but the results vary widely.  There is no one way to judge, just like there is no one way to brew.  Teaching one method as The Way is not something I want to see.  The exam (should) measure how competent judges are based on how they practice their craft.  That is what we care about.

If you don't like BJCP style judging, you should try going to a beer festival and seeing what is selected as people's choice.  Or read one of those beer review type sites and see which beers are consistently ranked as best.  Then imagine how your beer would be ranked using one of those methods.  Reminds me of the Winston Churchill quote, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried."  If you've got a better way to judge beer, let me know.  Seriously.

Haha thanks Gordon.  Its funny that you mentioned Kasteel and Gulden Draak - Kasteel tripel and GD are two of my absolute favorite beers, though I know they are on the sweet side compared to the dryness of say a Westmalle tripel.

For what its worth I am very new to posting here too and it was never my intention to turn this or any discussion into a critique of BJCP or AHA or any particular competition.  I was just noting an "isn't it funny when..." moment.  A point I stressed several pages ago is that judges are human (and thus subjective), despite an outstanding set of style guidelines that seem to me very clear and precise.   
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: spointon on May 06, 2011, 07:02:01 PM
WOW !! I was the original post on this subject.It was my first ever post to this forum. It has certainly taken on  a direction I did not anticipate. I just wanted an answer to what I thought was a simple question. Lets see.... it went from a couple of legitimate answers and congratulations to the newbie brewer (me) to bashing AHA it's rules, It's procedures, It' judges, It's competition director (sorry Janis). You people scare me and I am not sure I will participate in this forum again. In my youth I competed in and coached sports. Sportsmanship was the greatest lesson to be taught and learned. Not much of it here. Sorry for the post. :(

I am also a newbie here and hope I wasn't the cause of too much angst with my comments.  I was merely thinking of this forum as sort of a virtual homebrew club meeting.  Pull up a chair, crack a brew, discuss beer, and solve the world's problems all the while being serious or funny or contemplative as you see fit. 
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: gordonstrong on May 06, 2011, 07:12:20 PM
I am also a newbie here and hope I wasn't the cause of too much angst with my comments.  I was merely thinking of this forum as sort of a virtual homebrew club meeting.  Pull up a chair, crack a brew, discuss beer, and solve the world's problems all the while being serious or funny or contemplative as you see fit. 

You might be new here, but if this is what you think the forum is for, I'd say you get it.

We're not always the best about staying on topic, but the questions usually get answered and some other interesting things usually get discussed as well.  You'll get different opinions, but that's the point, isn't it?
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: udubdawg on May 06, 2011, 07:56:16 PM
The other thing that we need to do better, and again I think this is a flaw of how most training for the exam is done, don't focus solely on the negative. Judges, particularly newer judges fresh from the exam, spend most of their time hunting out the flaws and beating on the entrant for this, that and the other. If you're not offering positives, then why is the entrant going to look at doing any of this again? When I'm judging an entry, I try and record the raw impression and then synthesize it into positive commentary and pointed feedback.


I agree with this.  I certainly struggle with the positive part.  I don't want to just write "I heard angels at first sniff"" or "It's so good when it touches your lips!" or "feedback: Make more! Here's my address" on terrific beers...
Could you offer some of your examples of positive commentary?

cheers--
--Michael
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: dbeechum on May 06, 2011, 08:43:37 PM
My advice is to find the positive characters of the beer and emphasize them, even if they don't apply to the style.

For instance, say you have a pale ale that's too malty, but has a wonderful richness, you could always say: "There's a complex malt character this beer, that while inappropriate for pale ale would make a fantastic base for a {insert whatever style it would be appropriate to}"

Almost every entry out there has something to recommend it. Search it out and run with it.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: koelschbrewer on May 08, 2011, 12:31:55 AM
I tasted a friend's English IPA today. The nose punched you in the face with Englishness as if it was a Liverpudlian soccer ultra, and it was obvious that it was a English Pale malt-based beer fermented with an English ale yeast. Judge #1 agrees. Judge #2 comments "Try using English malts and yeast next time". Comment on his six-year old mead that won the first round last year: "Submit it again when it has some age on it, maybe in three years".
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 08, 2011, 07:43:27 AM
Thank you for the very thoughtful reply. The reluctance to score 45-50 explains a lot. I was also trying to be modest, the beer I was quoting from actually scored a 40 and moved on to the second round. Being that close to the maximum likely score explains the lack of much concrete criticism.

Appropriate feedback for a beer of 40-45 is: "Outstanding job! Better than/comparable to [commercial example]! Can I have the recipe!"

If you're consistently getting scores in the high 30s-low 40s, you're kicking ass! The fact that you got a 40 with a relatively unexciting beer like an Irish Red is a real coup. Likewise, the fact that you beat a bunch of strong Scotch ales to get to the second round also says something. You should be justifiably proud of your win.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 08, 2011, 07:48:47 AM
I had a beer win a gold in the MCAB.   2 weeks later in a different competition it got a 28.5 and was described as "lifeless and not to style".  First round of the AHA the same beer got a 40.  Same batch, same bottling.  So who was right?

Who knows? It's possible that the judge was being an idiot, it's also possible that you've got packaging problems meaning that your bottles aren't consistent in quality. The only way you can tell is to keep notes as you work your way through a particular batch.

Lifeless, to me, means low carbonation and/or oxidized. Low CO2 means a loose cap, which means oxidation. Low levels of oxidation can give beer a generally "dull" character and reduce hop and ester character. For a hoppy ale, that could knock it out of style. Also, lack of CO2 means that there's nothing to lift hop aroma and esters out of the beer, and less spritziness and "bite" to balance the flavor (although, properly CO2 is a mouthfeel sensation).
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 08, 2011, 07:58:54 AM
If I send in a Westy 12 fresh, well treated from the brewery, anything less than 50, to me at least, means there is some sort of uncalibrated scoring going on from novice judges . . .

A dirty little secret about beer judging is that beer judges are human. While brewery-fresh Westvleteren 12 should score in the 40s, possibly even the high 40s, there's no guarantee that a judge will give it a perfect 50. 50 implies that there is no better beer out there, that it's the Platonic ideal of beer for that style, and that no batch of beer can ever surpass that beer in merit. That's a mighty ballsy claim for a judge to make, especially when judging, by its nature, demands consensus. Yeah, that's a fault of the judging system, but there you are.

For those of you who haven't judged, you should try it sometime, or serve as a steward and watch judges at work. There's often a fair amount of "sausage making" that goes into the final score, especially when one judge falls in love with a beer while the other judge finds serious faults with it.
Title: Re: AHA First Round
Post by: brandon on May 08, 2011, 09:38:41 AM

Meh, the first beer listed in the BJCP guidelines for Belgian Strong Dark, when fresh, well treated, etc. better score 50... and the last beer (in BSDA) better score ~37... if I send in a Westy 12 fresh, well treated from the brewery, anything less than 50, to me at least, means there is some sort of uncalibrated scoring going on from novice judges... I mean honestly, it isn't my fault if everyone hasn't made it to In De Vrede to taste the beer, but if I see a Master level sort of judge on the scoresheet, I expect if they haven't at least made it to Belgium yet, they've had the opportunity to taste the 50 point example of this beer.

 :) But here is the problem just because the BJCP lists it first doesn't mean it really is a 50 point beer. That is an opinion, it is not fact.
I have enjoyed a number of Westy 12's throughout the years fresh and vintage versions. While it is a neat beer and has a cool "Wow" factor for having one state side, I don't think it is a 50 point beer. And I am no more wrong for saying that than people who say it is a 50 point beer. Personally I think Rochefort 10 is a better example and more complex, but still not a 50 point beer. To say "uncalibrated scoring going on from novice judges" is simply silly.