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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: beerstache on May 18, 2011, 09:58:02 PM

Title: Competition letdown
Post by: beerstache on May 18, 2011, 09:58:02 PM
How does everybody deal with competition letdown?  I mean, you think you have the best beer you've evermade, and the judges rip it to shreds!  I just got the results from a local comp., two beers in the mid 20's and one a 35.  Just when I think I'm getting to be a good brewer, doing all the right things, starters, aeration, temp/ferm control, reading all the how to books, I just dont seem to be getting anywhere.  I've had it with competitions.  I like my beer and my friends like it too, that's all that matters.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: jaybeerman on May 18, 2011, 10:06:37 PM
Wear the shoe when it fits.  Take all judges comments with a grain of salt.  Live and learn.  Be happy and keep brewing (keep entering too).
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: denny on May 18, 2011, 10:09:59 PM
It's just the opinion of those people at that time on that day.  If that's your first comp, keep entering.  You'll be able to average out the opinions.  And sit down with the beers that were judged and drink one while you read through the scoresheets.  As often as not, I find a judge will pick up something I totally overlooked and find myself grateful for pointing it out.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: ccarlson on May 18, 2011, 10:12:11 PM
I've had it with competitions.  I like my beer and my friends like it too, that's all that matters.

You've already solved your problem.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: denny on May 18, 2011, 10:26:02 PM
I've had it with competitions.  I like my beer and my friends like it too, that's all that matters.

You've already solved your problem.

Unless by entering comps you can learn something that will make your beer even better.  I certainly have.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: Mark G on May 18, 2011, 11:14:22 PM
I think the key is to enter the competitions with the intent of getting feedback from trained judges, not necessarily winning. If they happen to like your beer, maybe you'll medal. If not, oh well, you've gained lots of knowledge on how to make your beer even better. It seems like every time I enter 3-4 beers in a comp, the one I think is the best doesn't do well, but one of my so-so beers ends up placing. It's just the way it goes. I know that my palate is not as well-trained as a lot of the judges, so I really appreciate it when they pick up on things that I never even noticed.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: punatic on May 18, 2011, 11:47:09 PM
How does everybody deal with competition letdown?

That's an easy one; I don't participate in competitions.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: jeffy on May 19, 2011, 12:07:59 AM
You have a choice:
You could chock it up to "different judge, different day" and keep entering the same beer in hopes that the next set of judges agrees with you;
You could extrapolate from the comments and make your beer better the next time;
You could save all the beer for yourself and your friends and avoid competitions altogether.

I like to enter competitions and have won a stack of medals, but I'm looking seriously at comments lately because my percentage of winning is way down these days.  I doubt that everybody else suddenly got better than me, so I'm looking at the comments to see what I may do to make improvements.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: tygo on May 19, 2011, 12:11:17 AM
You could extrapolate from the comments and make your beer better the next time;

This is what I've been doing lately.  I don't enter the same beer into multiple competitions and I don't take the score at face value. 

I look at the comments the judges are making, and especially when there's consistency in the comments between the judges, or if I get the same type of comments for multiple beers, I use that to try to diagnose what my process problems might be.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: ccarlson on May 19, 2011, 12:12:10 AM
I've had it with competitions.  I like my beer and my friends like it too, that's all that matters.

You've already solved your problem.

Unless by entering comps you can learn something that will make your beer even better.  I certainly have.

How can you say they teach you something when thread after thread people complain about questionable judging conditions, lack of feedback and beers that place in one comp and score bad in another? That's why I got out of them. I felt I was chasing around trying to solve problems that never existed.  My friends told me it was good and when I drank commercial craft beer, in many cases I preferred mine to theirs.

It's kind of like when you are constantly hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. It sure feels good when you stop.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: will on May 19, 2011, 12:26:48 AM
I brew with people who are serious comp brewers and they give me all the advice and knowledge I need. The important thing is what do you think of your beer. Competitions don't really interest me, so don't be to hard on yourself. Have fun and keep brewing.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: oscarvan on May 19, 2011, 03:03:12 AM
I am my own (no mercy) judge. My "clientel" confirms what I already know. I don't have to prove it by sparring with others. But, to each his own.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: punatic on May 19, 2011, 03:41:14 AM
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=5258.0
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: theoman on May 19, 2011, 08:18:11 AM
I am my own (no mercy) judge. My "clientel" confirms what I already know. I don't have to prove it by sparring with others. But, to each his own.
+1
Don't really care. I feel I have a good palate and I know if something is wrong. If I don't know how to fix it, I come here.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: beer_crafter on May 19, 2011, 11:28:35 AM
Keep in mind that BJCP comps don't judge "what's the best beer" they judge what is the best example to style.  You may make a great beer but it may not fit into the judge's mind into the category you've entered in.  As an example, I believe if Dogfish Head 60minute IPA was entered into a BJCP comp, it'd score in the low to mid 30s.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: MDixon on May 19, 2011, 11:34:51 AM
Exactly, a competition is about style...if one didn't brew the beer to style, one probably will not score well. FWIW a "good" beer should score at competition in the 30's. The OP had two just below, so they probably missed stylistic attributes and one at a 35. I don't see why there is dissapointment...
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: johnf on May 19, 2011, 12:11:52 PM
Keep in mind that BJCP comps don't judge "what's the best beer" they judge what is the best example to style.  You may make a great beer but it may not fit into the judge's mind into the category you've entered in.  As an example, I believe if Dogfish Head 60minute IPA was entered into a BJCP comp, it'd score in the low to mid 30s.


Any flaw free beer entered in the correct category (there is always a correct category) should score in the high 30s or better.

If you brew great beer and you can't win medals consistently then you are either very bad at choosing where to enter or there is something wrong with your assumptions about the quality of your beer.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: ccarlson on May 19, 2011, 12:14:27 PM
Exactly, a competition is about style...if one didn't brew the beer to style, one probably will not score well. FWIW a "good" beer should score at competition in the 30's. The OP had two just below, so they probably missed stylistic attributes and one at a 35. I don't see why there is dissapointment...

If you ever saw how I dressed, you'd know that style is not important to me. I'm guessing that around here, I'm not alone. :)
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on May 19, 2011, 12:22:12 PM
Quote
How does everybody deal with competition letdown?
I get inspired to try harder and make better beer.  There are plenty of examples of judges giving conflicting comments (even in Zymurgy magazines commercial calibration tastings) but ime the majority of the time there is useful information in those scoresheets.  I can't in good conscience say I'm entering for the unbiased feedback and then get bent out of shape when I get just that.  I have plenty of friends/family that will tell me my beer is good...I want real, unbiased feedback and I typically get that from competitions.

I entered a RIS in the NHC and it scored poorly (28).  After I read the scoresheets and drank another one of those RIS I was almost embarrassed I entered it (and brewed it) as a RIS.  It's just a really strong brown ale, not a bad beer but not a RIS by any stretch.  But prior to the comp I had been drinking it with full 'knowledge' that "this is a RIS'.  So I kept tasting RIS when it really wasn't.  As much as we like to think we can be unbiased about such things, we're all human.

But my dog is definitely smarter than everyone else's...and as long as I never enter him in a competition he'll stay that way. ;)
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: dean on May 19, 2011, 12:30:25 PM
This will either lock the topic or my post will be deleted... probably.   ;D

While I've yet to enter a beer competition, from what others have told me its like going to church, you want to belong to something greater than yourself and you need/want salvation.    ;D

With that said... you might get a laugh out of this.

 Are Your Rapture-Ready?

As most of you know by now, the end of the world is scheduled for late in the day on May 21st when The Rapture begins and the world of man ends. 

You are prepared of course, but what about your pets?

Good News (pun intended).  The pagans have come up with a solution: 


Our service is plain and simple; our fee structure is reasonable.   

For $135.00 we will guarantee that should the Rapture occur within ten (10) years of receipt of payment, one pet per residence will be saved. Each additional pet at your residence will be saved for an additional $20.00 fee. A small price to pay for your peace of mind and the health and safety of your four legged and feathered friends.

If you truly believe in Jesus, you will post this to your Facebook wall all day.

 ;D :D :D :D :D
.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: stlaleman on May 19, 2011, 12:54:27 PM
Dean-that was bizzare.
As far as all beers fitting in a catagory, thanks to cat 23, they do. I've judged a few comps, entered a lot more. Competitions are getting harder to win, better beers are being brewed. That said, its still one of the best places to get honest feedback. A good beer may have a little DMS, I'm not one of those who pick that up easily, but whether we like the beer or not, if it has DMS in it, and it should not, then I want to know so I can do something to fix the problem. My goal is not to make beer that is good enough for me and my friends, but to make the best beer in the world. (A lofty goal, but if you don't try for the summit, you'll never reach it)
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: dean on May 19, 2011, 01:09:12 PM
My goal is not to make beer that is good enough for me and my friends, but to make the best beer in the world. (A lofty goal, but if you don't try for the summit, you'll never reach it)

Have you taken this yet?  http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=7555.0

You might even get a higher score than I did.   ;D  ;D

Btw... thanks, it was meant to be bizzare.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: bluesman on May 19, 2011, 01:59:14 PM
Exactly, a competition is about style...if one didn't brew the beer to style, one probably will not score well. FWIW a "good" beer should score at competition in the 30's. The OP had two just below, so they probably missed stylistic attributes and one at a 35. I don't see why there is dissapointment...

+1

I think by and large one will find that a well brewed beer will be reflected in the results of the score sheets. There will be subjectivity to some degree, and that is the nature of the system as there will be some palate differential from judge to judge but on average there is consensus within the judging IMO. I think the subtle differences from beer to beer within a style can be picked up by experienced judges most of the time. The variations witnessed by the OP could be due to subjectivity in the judging, but I think it's more the exception than the rule in the BJCP.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: denny on May 19, 2011, 03:11:35 PM
How can you say they teach you something when thread after thread people complain about questionable judging conditions, lack of feedback and beers that place in one comp and score bad in another? That's why I got out of them. I felt I was chasing around trying to solve problems that never existed.  My friends told me it was good and when I drank commercial craft beer, in many cases I preferred mine to theirs.

It's kind of like when you are constantly hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. It sure feels good when you stop.

Like most things in life, you only hear about the bad.  If there were nothing but the problems you describe, then comps would have died out a long time ago.  In fact, participation in comps is on the increase.  If you're satisfied with your beer, fine.  I like to get other opinions to see what I can do to improve.  I don't always agree with those opinions, but I find that it's valuable to me to at least consider what they say.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: denny on May 19, 2011, 03:13:08 PM
Keep in mind that BJCP comps don't judge "what's the best beer" they judge what is the best example to style.

But they also judge on flaws in the beer that can come from process.  That's the part I find valuable.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: tomsawyer on May 19, 2011, 03:38:17 PM
I read the feedback and look for those things that were identified.  Often I can detect something if I'm looking specifically for it.  When its there I can then think of ways to improve the beer.  Sometimes I won't find what the feedback indicates as a problem, in that case I discount the comment.

I wouldn't doubt that teh quality of the beers going to competition is improving as the number of entries is going up.  Even if the quality isn't becoming elevated as a percentage, the increased number of entries will mean there are relatively more good beers in a given category.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: bfogt on May 19, 2011, 03:45:35 PM
I became a judge because of multiple scoresheets with fewer than 50 words and unpredictable scores.  In every case (back then 4 years ago) one was a pro brewer and the other was new to judging beer.  Bad combination, especially for Cat 23 at NHC...  So, I took time off from entering beers, judged for a bit and learned what competitions were improving the judge pool and investing in treating judges well so the comments would be useful.

Compare beer judging to wine judging and you'll even appreciate the poor feedback.  As I understand it, if your wine has a flaw it doesn't score and you don't get feedback.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: jimbo44 on May 19, 2011, 04:21:03 PM
I enter beers into competitions for feed back.  Feed back is given by humans and therefore the quality can vary.  I also like to try and enter the beers I think a really good into a couple of competitions.  This allows me to get more of an average on the feedback notes.  It also helps me to start recognizing when that particular beer is getting past its prime.  If you brew a beer that you can taste mild flaws in I wouldn't bother with entering it.  I only enter beers I believe to be dialed, and hope to get some feedback that can make them even better.  This year for first round one of my entries was a German Pils.  I felt that it missed the mark a little on hop presence so I decided, last minute, to enter it as a Dortmunder as well.  It took first place in the light lager but scored poorly in the pils category.  So, once you've decided its good and there's not detectable flaws then you have to pick the appropriate category or all is for not.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: homebrewgamecock on May 19, 2011, 04:46:54 PM
I have only entered a few comps over the years - mainly due to laziness on my part.  I have received both good and bad feedback - meaning some feedback was valuable the other was obscure and not helpful at all.  I always keep 2 bottles of every beer I enter in the comp to taste and read the comments by the judges.  This helps me understand their perspective.  Sometimes I get it, other times I do not.

I have learned from most of the feedback I received thankfully.  I am not a big comp person, but I do enter them from time to time to benchmark my technique and beer.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 19, 2011, 08:57:17 PM
How does everybody deal with competition letdown?  I mean, you think you have the best beer you've ever made, and the judges rip it to shreds!

How does one deal with failure or rejection in general? Don't take it personally, try to keep a positive outlook and decide what you'll differently if you try again. Keep trying until you succeed or give up.

Based on your scores, I'd say that you were doing something right. One of your beers got a 35, which is a good score. On a good day, it's good enough for a win. Your beers that scored in the mid-20s might have been entered in the wrong style category or otherwise gotten dinged for not hitting style definitions, even though they were perfectly good.

Brewing for competition is different from brewing for yourself; you have to look at the guidelines first and figure how well your beer hits the style description before you enter it. Otherwise, bound to be disappointed.

If you're wanting feedback on becoming a better brewer, which I think you are, describe the beers you entered in competition and the sort of feedback you got from the judges, especially Overall Impression. There are a lot of very experienced judges on these forums who will be able to explain what the judges were writing about, and perhaps why they gave you the scores they did.

I'd also suggest that you read Gordon Strong's new book, since it gives a lot tips for entering beer in competition, and brewing better beer in general.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 19, 2011, 09:06:30 PM
Keep in mind that BJCP comps don't judge "what's the best beer" they judge what is the best example to style.

That's only sometimes true. For categories like Belgian Specialty (16E) and Specialty (23A), the judges can, or should, judge "hedonically" if no set base style is mentioned.

You may make a great beer but it may not fit into the judge's mind into the category you've entered in.  As an example, I believe if Dogfish Head 60minute IPA was entered into a BJCP comp, it'd score in the low to mid 30s.

It would have to be a bad bottle of Dogfish Head 60 minute, given as that's one of the BJCP commercial examples for AIPA.

As a rule of thumb, a well-made beer which is entered in the right category, which has no technical flaws, should score in the mid-30s. It's the intangible qualities - recipe, ingredients, freshness/proper aging - that lift beers in to the high 30s to 40s.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 19, 2011, 09:10:46 PM
I entered a RIS in the NHC and it scored poorly (28).  After I read the scoresheets and drank another one of those RIS I was almost embarrassed I entered it (and brewed it) as a RIS.  It's just a really strong brown ale, not a bad beer but not a RIS by any stretch.

Strong brown ale might mean it's a competitive Old Ale (19A) or possibly even a Baltic Porter (12C). Taste it while reading the guidelines for those styles and see how it stacks up.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: centpa on May 20, 2011, 01:40:13 PM
How does everybody deal with competition letdown?  I mean, you think you have the best beer you've evermade, and the judges rip it to shreds!  I just got the results from a local comp., two beers in the mid 20's and one a 35.  Just when I think I'm getting to be a good brewer, doing all the right things, starters, aeration, temp/ferm control, reading all the how to books, I just dont seem to be getting anywhere.  I've had it with competitions.  I like my beer and my friends like it too, that's all that matters.

I throw rocks at baby bunnies.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on May 20, 2011, 01:48:47 PM
I entered a RIS in the NHC and it scored poorly (28).  After I read the scoresheets and drank another one of those RIS I was almost embarrassed I entered it (and brewed it) as a RIS.  It's just a really strong brown ale, not a bad beer but not a RIS by any stretch.

Strong brown ale might mean it's a competitive Old Ale (19A) or possibly even a Baltic Porter (12C). Taste it while reading the guidelines for those styles and see how it stacks up.
I just looked over those and it's not carbonated enough to be a Baltic Porter but it might work as an Old Ale.  Thanks!
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: dmtaylor on May 20, 2011, 05:08:10 PM
As a judge myself, I can honestly tell you: The whole trouble with competitions is that they are judged by humans.  And as such, there can be any number of things to screw up a human's judgment.

1) They might not be trained or certified in the BJCP program.
2) They might have eaten onions or garlic the night before, or just smoked a cigarette, or didn't bother to brush their teeth.
3) They might have a head cold.
4) Their palates might be fatigued from already having consumed dozens of beer samples.
5) Their mom/spouse/children might not love them.
6) They might have a really weak personality and believe that if the National judge sitting next to them detects the slightest hint of DMS or diacetyl, then by golly he must be right and it's a terrible beer, even if they don't detect the same thing.
7) They might have time pressure to get that scoresheet out in less than 5 minutes.

It is for these reasons that I always recommend that if you want really good feedback from competitions, you NEED to enter each beer in not just one, not even just two, but THREE competitions.  Then you'll have at least 6-8 scoresheets, and can look at all of them at one time, and throw away the ones where the judges obviously did something stupid or didn't know what the hell they were talking about.  After throwing out half of the scoresheets, you're left with maybe ~3 good scoresheets and can make improvements in the future based off those.

Seriously, this is exactly the process I've used to get the most out of competitions, and I think I'm making better beers because of it.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: gmac on May 20, 2011, 05:11:38 PM
Having never entered a competition, can you enter the same beer (different bottles) in multiple categories?  Seems like one that wouldn't do well in one could do well in another.  I would expect that marginal beers wouldn't do well in either since they may not be clearly adhering to the style guidelines but can it be done?
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: mrcceo on May 20, 2011, 05:15:04 PM
Try this. Go to the BJCP website and look up the 2008 style guidelines, find the specifications for the beer you entered into the competition and look at the end where they give you the commercial examples. Go to your local beer store and see if you can find a few fresh examples that have been stored properly and compare it to your beer.  When you do this make sure the're all at the correct serving temp, sit in a quiet room with no distractions, and concentrate on what your experiencing.  In addition while your on the BJCP site download a few copies of their score sheets and try to fill them out as you do your tasting. Then let us know how you rated your beer against the benchmark commercial samples.  As was previously suggested read Gordon Strong’s new book Brewing Better Beer it will help you immensely.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: denny on May 20, 2011, 05:15:51 PM
Having never entered a competition, can you enter the same beer (different bottles) in multiple categories?  Seems like one that wouldn't do well in one could do well in another.  I would expect that marginal beers wouldn't do well in either since they may not be clearly adhering to the style guidelines but can it be done?

Yeah, that's almost always allowed.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: Hokerer on May 20, 2011, 05:58:37 PM
It is for these reasons that I always recommend that if you want really good feedback from competitions, you NEED to enter each beer in not just one, not even just two, but THREE competitions.  Then you'll have at least 6-8 scoresheets, and can look at all of them at one time, and throw away the ones where the judges obviously did something stupid or didn't know what the hell they were talking about.  After throwing out half of the scoresheets, you're left with maybe ~3 good scoresheets and can make improvements in the future based off those.

Seriously, this is exactly the process I've used to get the most out of competitions, and I think I'm making better beers because of it.

+1, that's just about the exact process I use to get the most out of competition feedback.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 20, 2011, 08:36:08 PM
Having never entered a competition, can you enter the same beer (different bottles) in multiple categories?  Seems like one that wouldn't do well in one could do well in another.  I would expect that marginal beers wouldn't do well in either since they may not be clearly adhering to the style guidelines but can it be done?

Yes. There's nothing to keep you from entering the same beer in different categories. It's sort of a waste of money, though. Better to sample your beer with the guidelines in front of you, figure out which category it best fits into, and enter it in the right category in the first place.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: Slowbrew on May 20, 2011, 08:45:11 PM
How does everybody deal with competition letdown?

That's an easy one; I don't participate in competitions.

+1

I've never submitted a beer to a comp but several BJCP beer judges have suggested I should.  I don't really care what a judge says, it's my beer and I make it for me and my wife and friends.  As long as they are happy, I'm happy.

Paul
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: punatic on May 20, 2011, 09:06:53 PM
Having never entered a competition, can you enter the same beer (different bottles) in multiple categories?  Seems like one that wouldn't do well in one could do well in another.  I would expect that marginal beers wouldn't do well in either since they may not be clearly adhering to the style guidelines but can it be done?

Yes. There's nothing to keep you from entering the same beer in different categories. It's sort of a waste of money, though. Better to sample your beer with the guidelines in front of you, figure out which category it best fits into, and enter it in the right category in the first place.

If money is the consideration, wouldn't it be more economical to sample the beer with a list of flaws in front of you, figure out what to change in your brewing techniques, and skip the competition?
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: ccarlson on May 20, 2011, 09:09:06 PM
Having never entered a competition, can you enter the same beer (different bottles) in multiple categories?  Seems like one that wouldn't do well in one could do well in another.  I would expect that marginal beers wouldn't do well in either since they may not be clearly adhering to the style guidelines but can it be done?

Yes. There's nothing to keep you from entering the same beer in different categories. It's sort of a waste of money, though. Better to sample your beer with the guidelines in front of you, figure out which category it best fits into, and enter it in the right category in the first place.

If money is the consideration, wouldn't it be more economical to sample the beer with a list of flaws in front of you, figure out what to change in your brewing techniques, and skip the competition?

You don't get any ribbons like that.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 22, 2011, 08:52:35 AM
If money is the consideration, wouldn't it be more economical to sample the beer with a list of flaws in front of you, figure out what to change in your brewing techniques, and skip the competition?

Yep. That's why being a beer judge, or at least training yourself to recognize and troubleshoot off-flavors, makes you a better brewer. It should be no surprise that homebrewing heavyweights like Jamil Zainasheff, Drew Beechum, Randy Mosher and Gordon Strong are also highly ranked judges.

You can also skip the time and expense of competition by just going to your local HB club with some of your beer and asking for feedback from experienced judges or brewers. If you are interested in competition, you can use the feedback to determine if a marginal beer is worth entering, or what style an "out of category" beer might fit into.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: punatic on May 22, 2011, 01:48:11 PM
If money is the consideration, wouldn't it be more economical to sample the beer with a list of flaws in front of you, figure out what to change in your brewing techniques, and skip the competition?

Yep. That's why being a beer judge, or at least training yourself to recognize and troubleshoot off-flavors, makes you a better brewer. It should be no surprise that homebrewing heavyweights like Jamil Zainasheff, Drew Beechum, Randy Mosher and Gordon Strong are also highly ranked judges.

Yep.  And that's why, as a high ranked judge, while homebrewing heavyweights like Jamil Zainasheff, Drew Beechum, Randy Mosher and Gordon Strong were still s***ting yellow, I wised up, realized that ribbons, medals and trophys are just ego candy, and quit participating in competitions.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: jeffy on May 22, 2011, 02:58:46 PM
If money is the consideration, wouldn't it be more economical to sample the beer with a list of flaws in front of you, figure out what to change in your brewing techniques, and skip the competition?

Yep. That's why being a beer judge, or at least training yourself to recognize and troubleshoot off-flavors, makes you a better brewer. It should be no surprise that homebrewing heavyweights like Jamil Zainasheff, Drew Beechum, Randy Mosher and Gordon Strong are also highly ranked judges.

Yep.  And that's why, as a high ranked judge, while homebrewing heavyweights like Jamil Zainasheff, Drew Beechum, Randy Mosher and Gordon Strong were still s***ting yellow, I wised up, realized that ribbons, medals and trophys are just ego candy, and quit participating in competitions.
I had to read this several times to understand that what you're saying is that you are older than them.  It's quite the insulting way to say that.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: ccarlson on May 22, 2011, 03:42:12 PM
If money is the consideration, wouldn't it be more economical to sample the beer with a list of flaws in front of you, figure out what to change in your brewing techniques, and skip the competition?

Yep. That's why being a beer judge, or at least training yourself to recognize and troubleshoot off-flavors, makes you a better brewer. It should be no surprise that homebrewing heavyweights like Jamil Zainasheff, Drew Beechum, Randy Mosher and Gordon Strong are also highly ranked judges.

Yep.  And that's why, as a high ranked judge, while homebrewing heavyweights like Jamil Zainasheff, Drew Beechum, Randy Mosher and Gordon Strong were still s***ting yellow, I wised up, realized that ribbons, medals and trophys are just ego candy, and quit participating in competitions.

I'm with you on this. I'm amazed at how much money people spend on comps, fancy labels, single batch ingredient purchases, etc., but it isn't my money, so who am I to criticize. Although I've never done it, I'm betting that if you have an unidentifiable problem, that many of the judges on this and other sites would be happy to accept a bottle of beer from you and return some feedback.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: denny on May 22, 2011, 03:56:46 PM
If money is the consideration, wouldn't it be more economical to sample the beer with a list of flaws in front of you, figure out what to change in your brewing techniques, and skip the competition?

But what if you don't have a sensitivity to some of those flaws, or you don't realize they're flaws until someone points them out to you?  That's happened to me more than once.  I overlooked things in the beer until someone pointed them out to me.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: ccarlson on May 22, 2011, 04:31:30 PM
If money is the consideration, wouldn't it be more economical to sample the beer with a list of flaws in front of you, figure out what to change in your brewing techniques, and skip the competition?

But what if you don't have a sensitivity to some of those flaws, or you don't realize they're flaws until someone points them out to you?  That's happened to me more than once.  I overlooked things in the beer until someone pointed them out to me.

But if you were to drink a commercial beer of the same style I'll bet you could detect the differences and then go from there. Also, based on what's been said in this thread and others who's to say the judges would detect it either?
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: Steve on May 22, 2011, 04:37:01 PM
I've entered competitions a couple of times to get critiques on a specific styles brewed.  I'm not in it to win it, but rather to get feedback from people who don't know me and to learn from their impressions.  I'll do it again occasionally for that reason.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: denny on May 22, 2011, 04:45:55 PM
But if you were to drink a commercial beer of the same style I'll bet you could detect the differences and then go from there.

What if there isn't a commercial equivalent?  And even if there was, what would that tell you if you couldn't tell what the flaws were in your own?

 
Also, based on what's been said in this thread and others who's to say the judges would detect it either?

Who's to say they wouldn't?  Of course we hear about poor judging, but we don't hear about great judging.  Since you don't enter comps, you can't be aware of how many great judges are out there.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: ccarlson on May 22, 2011, 04:56:24 PM
But if you were to drink a commercial beer of the same style I'll bet you could detect the differences and then go from there.

What if there isn't a commercial equivalent?  And even if there was, what would that tell you if you couldn't tell what the flaws were in your own?

 
Also, based on what's been said in this thread and others who's to say the judges would detect it either?

Who's to say they wouldn't?  Of course we hear about poor judging, but we don't hear about great judging.  Since you don't enter comps, you can't be aware of how many great judges are out there.

I did enter a few comps, but quit for many of the same reasons noted here. As for the flaws, if you can't detect them in your beer and you can't detect them in a commercial example, are there really any flaws and if there are, why would they matter to you anyway?

Also, I never meant to imply that there aren't some great judges out there. I feel like it's not all in what you learn in classes. Some people just have the ability to detect very slight imperfections, but I think they are few and far between.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: denny on May 22, 2011, 05:28:47 PM
As for the flaws, if you can't detect them in your beer and you can't detect them in a commercial example, are there really any flaws and if there are, why would they matter to you anyway?

Because even if you don't realize it, your beer could be better.  If it was better, chances are that you would realize that it was better.  Again, I speak from my own experience here.

Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: Hokerer on May 22, 2011, 05:38:07 PM
As for the flaws, if you can't detect them in your beer and you can't detect them in a commercial example, are there really any flaws and if there are, why would they matter to you anyway?

If you're happy with your beer and aren't big on sharing it, then it might not matter at all.  If, though, you'd actually like to improve your beer (and face it, there's always room for improvement), comp feedback is one way to achieve that.

Give it a try, you might be surprised at what you've been missing.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: punatic on May 22, 2011, 08:03:07 PM
Reading the "May 21..." thread just now it occured to me that critcizing homebrew competitions could be the same as insulting someone's religion.  That I will not do. I  tried it and it wasn't right for me for a number of reasons, but if brewing and judging beer to compete brings you happiness, then that's good. 

I'm just shakey on the whole, "If it's good for me then it's good for everybody" idea.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: oscarvan on May 23, 2011, 02:30:54 AM
If money is the consideration, wouldn't it be more economical to sample the beer with a list of flaws in front of you, figure out what to change in your brewing techniques, and skip the competition?

Yep. That's why being a beer judge, or at least training yourself to recognize and troubleshoot off-flavors, makes you a better brewer. It should be no surprise that homebrewing heavyweights like Jamil Zainasheff, Drew Beechum, Randy Mosher and Gordon Strong are also highly ranked judges.

Yep.  And that's why, as a high ranked judge, while homebrewing heavyweights like Jamil Zainasheff, Drew Beechum, Randy Mosher and Gordon Strong were still s***ting yellow, I wised up, realized that ribbons, medals and trophys are just ego candy, and quit participating in competitions.
I had to read this several times to understand that what you're saying is that you are older than them.  It's quite the insulting way to say that.

No, what he's saying is that he's got the grey hair to be wiser than the young turks out to beat each other. And he's saying it in a respectful, though tongue in cheek way.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: narvin on May 23, 2011, 03:02:38 AM
You can't take it too seriously.  Competitions are about as objective as figure skating judging, but if you understand that you might get some good feedback and even a well-deserved pat on the back at some point.  When the feedback sucks and the scoring is a travesty, you can shrug it off or you can take your ball and go home, vowing never to play again. 
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 23, 2011, 06:38:37 AM
I wised up, realized that ribbons, medals and trophys are just ego candy, and quit participating in competitions.

Different strokes. I know plenty of excellent brewers who don't bother with competitions for various reasons. My point was that the skills involved in being a judge - like troubleshooting and understanding ingredients, techniques and beer styles - help make you a better brewer, and vice-versa.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 23, 2011, 06:46:46 AM
But what if you don't have a sensitivity to some of those flaws, or you don't realize they're flaws until someone points them out to you?  That's happened to me more than once.  I overlooked things in the beer until someone pointed them out to me.

If you're a cheapskate like me, you take your beer to your local HB club meeting, round up a couple of folks whose judging and brewing skills you respect and ask them to critique it. If you are trying to pinpoint subtle faults, there's going to be at least one person in the room who's got a nose like a bloodhound and who can taste diacetyl down to 0.02 ppm. Identify that person and make friends with them.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: johnf on May 23, 2011, 06:49:49 AM
I probably spend more than most on competitions and most of that is spent travelling to judge.

I know a lot of people who spend more than I could dream of spending on home brewing to hit a ball, drive a small cart after it, and hit it again and in particular to do this in a nice and exclusive location. I think this is silly, but I usually keep that opinion to myself. Everyone needs a hobby, everyone thinks everyone elses hobby is silly or weird (or the way other people in the same hobby participate is silly or weird in this case).
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: bluesman on May 23, 2011, 01:55:40 PM
Competitions can be:

a let-down
encouraging
discouraging
rewarding
enlightening
disheartening
fun
a hassle
exciting
frustrating
piss you off
make you want to quit competing
make you want to go for the Ninkasi
give you a big ego
ecourage you to become a BJCP beer judge
a real PITA
anticipating

I've personally experienced all of the above at one point or another but to me competing is something I do because I enjoy all of the facets that encompass the art and science of homebrewing which are a part of the competition.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: redbeerman on May 23, 2011, 02:09:43 PM
What I get from competitions is the satisfaction that over time my scores have gotten higher and my beers have gotten better.  I don't always agree with the feedback I get, but it does give me another point of view and gives me something to think about the next time I drink that beer.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: beerstache on May 24, 2011, 01:22:59 AM
I see that I really touched a nerve with this topic!  Now that I've had some time to reflect on my scores and everybody's comments, It's not as bad as I originally thought.  I'm going to use the feedback to improve my beers the best I can and move on.  The beers I scored low on were only my second or third attempts, so there is room for tweaking and improvement.
Thanks to all who commented, it is greatly appreciated!
Tom

Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: The Professor on May 24, 2011, 05:25:33 AM
I see that I really touched a nerve with this topic!  Now that I've had some time to reflect on my scores and everybody's comments, It's not as bad as I originally thought.  I'm going to use the feedback to improve my beers the best I can and move on.  The beers I scored low on were only my second or third attempts, so there is room for tweaking and improvement.
Thanks to all who commented, it is greatly appreciated!
Tom

Sounds good, Tom. 
But do remember this as you continue to explore the hobby...  if you make a beer that you like, you shouldn't feel compelled to change ANYTHING about it just based on a competition scoresheet (unless going for a blue ribbon is important to you).  The most valuable things to be gotten from the scoresheets would be notes about off flavors from bad practice, oxidation, and the like.  And even there, it really can be argued that if your palate doesn't detect the flaw, is it really a flaw? Taste is a very subjective thing.

Some of the very best homebrews I've tasted (from other brewers, and a few of mine as well) were beers that would be difficult to fit neatly into any of the so called 'recognized' styles.  But that's the great thing about brewing at home...the only palate you really have to please is yours (and the folks that enjoy your brew with you). 

Regarding the "styles" question, Lew Bryson gives some very sound advice to both homebrewers and commercial brewers:
 "Brew with style, not to style..."
Sage advice indeed!
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: phunhog on August 12, 2011, 02:07:45 AM
Sorry to bring up an older thread but that is what I am experiencing....Competition Letdown. I have been brewing for a few years now and seldom enter contests. I entered this one mainly because it was in my hometown and it was free.   The cool thing about it though, which I found out later, is that one of the judges is one of the highest ranked BJCP judges in the country!!  The bad part is that he scored my American Amber a 13.   Isn't that the lowest score a judge will give?  I mean I could have peed in the bottle and gotten a 13!! ;)  The awful part is that after brewing for almost four years of brewing and twenty years of drinking craft beer I thought I had brewed a fairly decent beer. Was it going to win anything? Probably not. But it shows that if I think a "13" beer is decent that maybe I don't have any business brewing beer.
A question I have for any judges out there is are all beer comps judged the same?  I know the judge has forgotten more about beer than I will ever know. Not for a second am I questioning his score/notes. It seems to me like I was a 10 year old gymnast being judged by an Olympic judge to Olympic standards.  This is a local comp with no prizes and most categories either aren't represented or they are lumped in with other categories. In other words this isn't the NHC. I found it interesting too that my other beers, which I didn't really care for,were judged by non-BJCP judges did much better 25, 30, 41.  Of course how much faith can I put into those scores/notes?
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: James Lorden on August 12, 2011, 02:35:05 AM
If your beer got a 13 then you likely gave him a bad bottle or the beer was entered in the wrong category.  What do the comments say?  Chances are, if the other bottles you drank were good, that the bottle that was judged has a sanitation issue.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: hopfenundmalz on August 12, 2011, 12:32:44 PM
Yes, a 13 is really low.  You did not share any comments the judge made.  Did the judge say it could do better in a different category?  Can you verify that you entered it in the right category?  The judge will be judging to style, and if it is not to style... you get a low score for a good beer. 

Or it could have been a bad bottle.   Are you extra careful on the bottle cleaning and sanitation?  For competitions, I am.  It is also a good practice to have some extra bottles to drink when you read a score sheet.  Sometimes you can pick up what the judge points out.  Then you know that flaw, and can research how to fix it.


Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: bluesman on August 12, 2011, 12:58:34 PM
That sounds very odd. Some thoughts:

bad bottle (infected)
entry mislabeled (swapped with another entry)
misjudged
mishandled

Let us know the scoresheet details.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: phunhog on August 12, 2011, 05:18:29 PM
Here are the judge's notes:  American Amber
Aroma 2/12-  low malt, medium vegetal note, low peach pineapple ester. Musty/mulchy
Appearance 3/3- pours golden with creamy off white head that holds as a solid cover. Very good clarity
Flavor 3/20- Medium low grainy malt. Very low hop flavor. low bitterness. Balanced to malt. Finish is vegetal/musty
Mouthfeel 2/5- light body, low CO2, no warmth, light astringency.Full creaminess.
Overal Impression 3/10- Several issues to tackle. Attennuation, sanitation, yeast health, pitching rate, more hops
Total 13/50

I guess next time I could drink a world class beer, pee it out, carbonate, and get a better score ;D
Like I said I don't doubt the judge for a minute. I doubt myself and my ability to even taste beer
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: James Lorden on August 12, 2011, 05:30:43 PM
Just my opinion,  I don't think that is a very good score sheet for feedback.  Was this an all grain recipe or an extract batch.  Was it a new bottle or a previously used bottle.  What did the recipe look like?  I am pretty sure that if you continue on this forum you will be able to troubleshoot through that beer yourself.... I will often drink my beer side by side with one of the comercial examples in the style guide.  This will help keep you honest in your opinion.  Last but not least - if you like it, who cares what the judge says.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: denny on August 12, 2011, 05:32:37 PM
Just my opinion,  I don't think that is a very good score sheet for feedback. 

I dunno...seems pretty good to me.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: blatz on August 12, 2011, 05:39:12 PM
Just my opinion,  I don't think that is a very good score sheet for feedback. 

I dunno...seems pretty good to me.

yeah - the comments are pretty good - I tend to be more verbose, but the essence of what he was experiencing was there.  However, for me his score assigned and comments are a bit disconnected - I usually would only assign a 3/20 for flavor if it was just awful and infected etc. So I wouldn't put much behind the actual score - I probably would have given high teens/low 20s if I experienced the same tastes/aromas that were indicated.  That said, neither score will push this beer to the next round, so its arbitrary.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: punatic on August 12, 2011, 05:43:45 PM
Like I said I don't doubt the judge for a minute. I doubt myself and my ability to even taste beer

Maybe that's the problem; giving too much credence to one opinion and not enough to the other.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: bonjour on August 12, 2011, 05:50:42 PM
I agree with you Denny, pretty good feedback.
A Tale of two beers.

What are interpreted as flaws are often great flavors that are out of place.
I had a Dark English mild that I brewed a demo.  It was an awesome beer,  three judges scored it 18 (I think).
They told me it was an awesome beer and wanted more of it.  It still scored an 18.

While cooling someone kicked some dirt in the beer.  The beer developed a "Rustic" note from Brett,  even a touch of Cherry, and had a touch of smoke.  very complex.  very nice.  At the time it was my goto beer.

It was not what I had intended when I started.

At a recent exam I served Beer 1, a good, mid-upper 30s Flanders red,  The second beer was an "American Amber",  Score 17 (I think).  I was questioned if I served the same beer twice in a row,  yes, the Amber tasted like a Flanders Red.

Yes, you got great feedback.



Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: James Lorden on August 12, 2011, 06:51:52 PM
  However, for me his score assigned and comments are a bit disconnected - I usually would only assign a 3/20 for flavor if it was just awful and infected etc.

This is what I mean, words don't seem to match the score. At the very least pick at the worst flaw and give some advice on corrective measures maybe?
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: udubdawg on August 12, 2011, 07:19:33 PM
  However, for me his score assigned and comments are a bit disconnected - I usually would only assign a 3/20 for flavor if it was just awful and infected etc.

This is what I mean, words don't seem to match the score. At the very least pick at the worst flaw and give some advice on corrective measures maybe?

I tend to agree...either the judge was being a bit kind in the description of what he/she was experiencing, or the scores seem a bit harsh for the words used to describe the beer.  Then again what do I know. 

I've never actually been able to give a 13.  Each time I tried (there have only been a few occasions) the other judge disagreed so much that I ended up coming up to 15-16 to get our scores within a reasonable range.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: Kit B on August 12, 2011, 07:47:08 PM
I think the comments about "musty", coupled with the note about sanitation are the only needed indications of what was wrong.
To me, that screams "Bad bottle/sample".
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: James Lorden on August 12, 2011, 11:17:47 PM
Obvious to you, but what if this is a new brewer - they might not be able to put two and two together like you just did. Not to get on a soap box but I think sometimes it's easy for a judge to wax poetic on a score sheet for a 45 point beer, but it's the 13's that need extra feedback.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: cfleisher on August 13, 2011, 01:56:06 AM
Been there myself. Personally, I liked both beers I submitted and then took samples to my brew club. They liked them too, and through discussion, we concluded that I may have submitted a contaminated bottle. So, guess what? I cleaned up my sanitation practices. I think you can learn a lot from submitting to competitions. (Some of them, anyway.)

If you're curious, here's a blog post that explains more: http://www.brewsreporter.com/a-case-for-competition/
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: johnf on August 15, 2011, 06:15:25 PM
Just my opinion,  I don't think that is a very good score sheet for feedback. 

I dunno...seems pretty good to me.

It's not bad but, you grade exams, what would you score that for feedback and completeness? I'm thinking closer to certified level than master level. Not every master judge is going to produce 100% scoresheets that would grade at the master level but I don't think this represents (or I hope it doesn't) the best effort from a highly ranked judge.

It's not horrible and not worth a nasty email or anything, but it isn't particularly good.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: denny on August 15, 2011, 06:48:27 PM
Just my opinion,  I don't think that is a very good score sheet for feedback. 

I dunno...seems pretty good to me.

It's not bad but, you grade exams, what would you score that for feedback and completeness? I'm thinking closer to certified level than master level. Not every master judge is going to produce 100% scoresheets that would grade at the master level but I don't think this represents (or I hope it doesn't) the best effort from a highly ranked judge.

It's not horrible and not worth a nasty email or anything, but it isn't particularly good.

I agree with you, which is why I said "pretty good" and not "excellent".  I guess I'd score it at the low National level.  As to why someone ranked Master wrote it, I'll defer without having more knowledge of the situation.
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: phunhog on August 23, 2011, 06:41:30 PM
Hey thanks for all the advice!! I really think it was just some sort of  bottle contamination. The rest of the keg tastes fine.  At least I found out today that my Persimmon Mead got 1st in the Mead category!
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: Hokerer on August 23, 2011, 07:00:16 PM
At least I found out today that my Persimmon Mead got 1st in the Mead category!

Congrats!
Title: Re: Competition letdown
Post by: woadwarrior on August 23, 2011, 09:02:43 PM
Hey thanks for all the advice!! I really think it was just some sort of  bottle contamination. The rest of the keg tastes fine.  At least I found out today that my Persimmon Mead got 1st in the Mead category!

Congrats.  ;D

I've only entered 2 competitions. Neither of them were BJCP. The 1st one I did ok. Both were liked, but not well enough to place. The other comp, I entered 7 meads. The one that I felt was the worst batch that I had brewed to that point was picked as the overall winner for the competition. (It was also the only dry mead I had. The others ranged from medium sweet to sweet)