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Messages - dsmitch19

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Noob judge observations
« on: April 09, 2014, 10:42:43 AM »
I usually judge each category and then, after adding everything up, see if the score matches the scoring band I feel the beer should be in. Usually, I'm in the right area. Every once and while I'll have to adjust up or down a couple/few points if I think a beer deserves to be capped at a certain level (say a 29 because it misses the mark on style when my original scoring had come out at a 32 or bump up to a 38 when my original scoring was a 36).

I guess I've never really thought of starting at one extreme (0 or 50) and moving in a direction from there. I like a more holistic approach.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Bias in BJCP judging?
« on: March 05, 2014, 09:29:26 AM »
To the OP, Congrats on starting the path to become a judge and improving the community. Reading through this thread, I think you might overestimate the detailed scientific knowledge related to brewing held by the large portion of homebrewers and even judges. In many of my conversations, especially with newer brewers in my club, many are still learning the basics and could not tell you the difference between an ester and a phenol, much less a specific scientific name of an ester (I know I couldn't until I started studying for the BJCP exams). If they were to get back a scoresheet with a list of the scientific terms, they would probably not benefit from it.

As you start judging, really keep in mind how you can best communicate to a wide audience of brewers while still identifying the complex technical elements of the beer you perceive. It can be challenging, but really painting a descriptive picture of the beer for the average brewers is a goal IMO. If we wanted a chemical analysis, we would send if off to a lab.

Also, keep in mind that many of your fellow judges will likely not be as scientifically versed as you appear to be with your ester knowledge, so be careful not to come across as condescending, which was a primary tone in some of your posts here. No judge's palate and other senses are perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, we are all in this to help everyone brew better beer, and have some fun along the way.

Equipment and Software / Re: Bru Gear - New Kettle/ Conical Manufacturer
« on: February 04, 2014, 01:40:34 PM »
I'm in the same homebrew club as Phil, the founder/owner/partner/whatever pf Bru Gear. The Bru Gear products are awesome. Very high quality similar to and some will say exceeding Blichmann. If I had the money and space, I would be buying the full 1BBL system. For now, I'm trying to see if I can scrounge up the $995 to get the set of 20 gallon kettle/HLT/tun so I can use them on a nice system later.

These prices are really a steal for this high of quality and Phil is a genuine stand up guy. If you find products you like and have the funds, I'd highly encourage you to pull the trigger.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: First Competition
« on: January 24, 2014, 09:25:14 AM »
I won a bronze with the first beer I ever entered. That inspired me to brew and enter more. The great feedback on my scoresheet did the same and also inspired me to get involved with judging. So, it was a great experience for me. I hope yours is similar! :)

Homebrew Competitions / Re: NHC Shipping Map
« on: January 21, 2014, 02:19:05 PM »
All of the first round judging centers are listed on this page under the entry shipping/drop off heading:

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP Written Exam
« on: January 21, 2014, 02:15:21 PM »
Congrats on taking it! I wish you a speedy exam grading process. I'm anxiously awaiting my written score from Nov. ;)

Time management is difficult and people underestimate the need to practice it. 15-17 minutes seems like a long time but it really isn't for complex questions. The first time I practiced writing an answer, I only got about half of what I wanted to say written out. It was then a process of figuring out what info from my study guide I could leave out and what I thought would help improve my score. I learned that I can write about 1.5-2 full pages of text in about 15 minutes, so that helped guide my answer planning. 

Mind sharing what your technical questions were? I'm always curious to hear what questions people got. If you read the study guide, you'll see that there is only the one possible style question. There used to be more, but they took it down to the one basic compare/contrast question during the last exam revision.

The Arizona Society of Homebrewers is excited to announce its first ever Springfest Competition to accompany our annual Springfest celebration. For the first time, we have a GABF Pro-AM opportunity for the overall beer Best of Show winner with Four Peaks Brewing Co., the largest craft brewery in Arizona.

All beer, cider and mead styles are accepted for this competition with an $8 per entry fee and an entry deadline of March 7th. Judging will be on Sat. March 15th in Scottsdale, AZ and winners will be announced at the ASH Springfest in Tempe, AZ on March 29th.

Register on the competition website here:


General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP Written Exam
« on: January 13, 2014, 10:35:41 AM »
If you are taking the exam this weekend, you really don't have time to do anything other than cram and use your current knowledge.

Amanda gave great advice, and I can't stress how important it is to practice the answers ahead of time. Getting a mentor like David also helps a lot if you have more time to study and work with them (David is awesome!) You need to have an idea of what you want to write for each question and how long it takes you to write them. Time management was the problem I saw/heard most from other exam takers. Writing a 7 page novel for one question will not get you extra credit and you'll not have enough time to answer the other questions adequately.

While the exam guide for dummies is an OK resource, it was really written to get people into the 70s in the old exam format IMO. With the new written only exam with more time for each question, I've heard the graders expect a little more from your answers than regurgitating what is in a study guide. They are also very familiar with seeing answers copied from the for dummies guide and might not be too willing to score those answers too highly.

If you are aiming for a score in the 80s/90s, I would recommend using all the resources out there to create your own study guide. Create an outline for what you want to write for each question and then practice writing them out. The graders can be impressed with original answers that show independent thought. Not sure you have much time for this type of study though with under a week until your exam.

Also, make sure you actually answer what is being asked of you. Look at the % breakouts for each question and use that as a guide. Don't spend more time on part of a question that is only with 10% of that question when you could be adding more to a part of that answer worth 30%. Don't loose silly points. Know your commercial examples and know the TF questions.

Finally, from what I have gathered, the usual question breakout for the written is: 2 style comparison questions, 1 recipe question, 2 technical questions. Some of it is also luck on what questions you draw. Getting the water question can take a lot of your time to answer well, as can some more complicated styles like stouts.

Hope that helps. Good luck! Let us know how you think you did.

Homebrew Clubs / Re: Homebrew clubs in Phoenix
« on: October 29, 2013, 11:18:57 AM »
The largest homebrew club in AZ is the Arizona Society of Homebrewers (ASH):

We meet monthly at our clubhouse in South Scottsdale and have many events throughout the year. A majority of our membership is in the east valley, but we do have members state wide. I guess it really depends what part of the phoenix area you are in.

Welcome to the valley.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Gordon Strong
« on: October 24, 2013, 01:34:51 PM »
I"ll throw in a few:

For an overall BOS round for a moderately sized competition, say 200-400 entries, do you think all gold medal winners from all 23 beer categories should be included in the final BOS round? I've seen many comps just pick the top 10 highest scoring beers or so, and I think that fails to take into account scoring variation.

How important was becoming a highly ranked judge to improving your brewing?

What has been one of your favorite judging experiences/memories (I'm sure you have many to pick from)?

Thank you,

Hi all. Our competition has been on the BJCP list for months, but we have just recently gotten the online registration system up and running due to problems out of our control. If anyone lives in the area, or if anyone can get their entries shipped ASAP, the deadline is this Friday the 4th with judging Sunday the 6th. Best of Show prize is a trip to Odell to brew on their pilot system ($500 travel voucher included).

Here is the site to enter beers or sign up to judge or steward if you happen to be in the area and free. Thanks!

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