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Messages - thomasbarnes

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: belgian blonde cidery/acetaldehyde aroma
« on: September 26, 2013, 10:32:23 AM »
I wonder where John Palmer got the idea that too much corn sugar causes this issue?  It's pretty obvious that insufficient time on the yeast is the culprit.  I've used over 20% corn sugar in a Belgian Strong with no problems.

Two reasons.

First, once you start pushing above about 20% sugar, yeast nutrients might become an issue, and weak fermentation due to poor nutrient levels might be a cause of acetaldehyde. More typically, however, you have to go to something ridiculous, like 40% sugar, to start getting insufficient yeast nutrients.

Second, large quantities of adjunct sugar can impart a "cidery" quality to a fermented beverage, although this isn't necessarily due to acetaldehyde.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Water Book?
« on: September 26, 2013, 10:14:48 AM »
Was supposed to ship last week.  Anyone receive theirs yet?
Did I miss something?

I got mine on Saturday.

Events / BJCP Tasting Exam Slots Available - Syracuse, NY
« on: August 07, 2012, 09:29:49 PM »
I've been informed by the exam organizer that there are seats available for the Syracuse, NY tasting exam.

Sept. 15, 10:00 am, Polish House, 915 Park Ave, Syracuse NY

Contact Mick Barnes at ASAP to sign up.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st round NHC results
« on: May 11, 2012, 07:20:11 PM »
"how does one judge find the beer bone dry and the other cloyingly sweet?"

Some people are more sensitive to sugar than others - search on "supertasters" vs. "non-tasters".

Also, sometimes poor attenuation can be partially masked by astringency, hop bitter or high carbonation.

Isn't there an assigned head judge that reviews the comments for consistency?

Generally, no. At best, you'll have someone reviewing scoresheets during the competition for bad judging practice - like insulting or minimal feedback.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st round NHC results
« on: May 11, 2012, 07:10:47 PM »

+250 on that one.  Got my score sheets back on Monday and was pretty disappointed in the quality.  One sheet had only 5 written words on the entire page, another had 1 or 2 entire sections of the score sheet completely blank.  One judges started a sentence and didn't even bother to finish it before skipping to the final score.  Lots of one line descriptions for Flavor and Aroma.  Not what I expected from our National Competition and certainly not worth the $10 entry fee.

A big competition is no excuse for crummy judging. Complain to the competition organizer. You definitely didn't get your money's worth.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st round NHC results
« on: May 11, 2012, 07:02:04 PM »
As a fairly active judge who lives out in the sticks, I'd love to see a small stipend that would at least cover gas.  I could see a higher fee being used to both raise revenue and lower entry numbers.  Not sure how expensive you'd have to make an entry to accomplish the latter.  After all we've demonstrated we have some disposable income just through our brewing hobby.

That would seriously drive up the entry fees. Some competitions do partially comp. for mileage, however at least for out-of-town or out-of-state judges (e.g., Indiana State Fair).

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st round NHC results
« on: May 11, 2012, 06:58:19 PM »
Question: are you allowed to fine tune your recipe if you brew a new batch for the final round? I doubt i will advance but am curious nonetheless.

Yes. Absolutely. As Martin pointed out, some styles lose their luster very quickly. If it's a low-alcohol (4% or less), a wheat beer, or one where hop aroma and flavor should be fresh and prominent (e.g., IIPA) you should definitely consider rebrewing.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: 1st round NHC results
« on: May 11, 2012, 06:55:45 PM »

A friend of mine got a score sheet back from the first round that had 5 words on it - there were more words listing the judges name and the style of beer.

There's a solution to that problem - complain to the competition organizer. That's unacceptably shoddy judging.

I think there are a few reasons.  First is wort darking and caramelization.  The second is that the isomerization activity of alpha acids plateau's completely by 90 minutes.  Third is that the benefit of SMM volatilization drops off appreciably as the malt's reserve of SMM is relatively exhausted around 60 minutes for pale malt and 90 minutes for pils malt.

The pro-brewer/scientific literature I've seen indicates that AA utilization peaks at ~2 hours, but a 90 minute boil is generally good enough. A 2-hour boil might be needed if you're really trying to pull every alpha acid molecule you can out of the beer in a high gravity wort.

Other than that, spot on.

Big pro-brewers hate long boils both because of energy costs and because time is money - especially for big brewers which might be brewing 4-5 batches per day. They have all sorts of tricks to minimize energy usage and speed up wort boiling. One of the coolest, but trickiest, is brewing the beer under a slight pressurization. AA Isomeration is optimized at something like 215-220 *F, but the danger is that if you get your wort much hotter than that, AA start to degrade :O

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Berlinner or Lambic?
« on: May 11, 2012, 06:40:31 PM »

It takes time for both lacto and brett to develop. If the brett character is too much, either use it as a blender beer (very appropriate for all varieties of our) or just call it an "American Sour Ale"

Given that you just mash-hopped, the alpha acid levels - which are what's bad for bacteria - will be low.

Commercially, the only authentic Berlinerweisse still brewed is Kindl, and it's hard to find. Good commercial "Berliner-like" weisses are Berliner Bahnhoff and Fritz Breim 1809 - the latter being a bit unusual in that it's a historic, "vollbier" strength Berliner (~5%).

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: My homebrew smells like vomit
« on: May 11, 2012, 06:28:16 PM »
Just in case nobody's mentioned it, next time, make sure you keep your sour mash at about 100 *F. If the temperature drops, you can get wort spoiler infections - like the one you've got.

Fortunately, sulfur compounds are highly volatile, so there's a good chance that wort boiling, fermentation and long aging will make it go away.


Thanks BJCP for lowering your standards just enough to let me slide by to continue my unbroken streak of mediocracy!

Passing the BJCP qualifier exam with no study at all hardly counts as "mediocrity". It's a tough exam and the fact that you scraped by still counts.

It's like the doctor joke,

"What do you call the guy who graduated last in his class in med school?"


While you need to get a slot in tasting exam soon, I wouldn't be in a rush to take the tasting exam. If possible, find a BJCP training class in your area, or find an experienced BJCP judge to mentor you on troubleshooting, styles and the mysteries of filling out a good scoresheet.

Just one month of prep, with no prior training or study, is setting you up for a potentially failing score on the tasting exam, when you're obviously smart and experienced enough that you could get an 80+.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Swift kick to the nuts!
« on: April 23, 2012, 02:48:09 AM »
No, they didnt. I could see that being an issue. For next time, should a Vanilla Porter go into the herb, spice category or the specialty category?

SHV - unless there's something else about the beer that kicks it into specialty (e.g., fruit, unusual fermentables, like honey).

Also, if you do enter it into competition, state the intensity level of the vanilla in the aroma and flavor, but don't necessarily state the exact type of porter unless the base beer absolutely nails one of the three recognized styles of porter.

For example, "Porter with light vanilla aroma and moderate vanilla flavor" would be a good description for a porter which sort of straddles the line between brown porter and robust, and doesn't have a whole lot of vanilla aroma.

The idea is that you want to tell the judges what to expect, and what NOT to expect, rather than making them guess.

As to your feedback in competition, other folks have mentioned possible causes for diacetyl. I'll add another tip: start your fermentation at the lower side of the preferred temperature range and let it rise a bit as fermentation finishes. Diacetyl gets produced during the initial phases of fermentation and gets scavenged up at the end. Cooler starting temperature = less diacetyl, warmer finishing temperature = more energy to clean up diacetyl before the yeast floccs.

Diacetyl and DMS together could be a sign of infection, but often you'll get other off flavors as well - sour, smoky or plasticy. If you're doing everything right with sanitation, it's probably not an issue.

Otherwise, if you're doing everything right by your yeast beasts, using a relatively clean-fermenting yeast strain, and getting good beer, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Sometimes certain hops and yeast strains can throw sulfur notes which can be mistaken for DMS, especially at low levels. In addition to a 90+ minute, full, open rolling boil, quick cooling and vigorous fermentation will also drive out DMS.

Ultimately, learn to troubleshoot on your own so that you can fix your own problems without having to rely on judge evaluations in competitions. Since you don't have to guess about ingredients and techniques, your evaluations can be much more accurate.

Alternately, hook up with a local HB club, find people in the club whose opinions you can trust and have them evaluate your beer face-to-face. That way, they can ask questions as they taste. If they're BJCP judges, so much the better, since they'll be able to give you tips on what makes a beer competitive in competition.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Bluebonnet scores
« on: April 15, 2012, 01:21:56 AM »
I got mine in this week too.  My RIS went from 41.5 in the first round to 31 in the second round, which is a little confusing.  Maybe they were judging to a higher standard in the second round?  It is a little under-attenuated because the yeast gave out after 14.5% abv! :)
Different judges, different bottle (?), different tasting order, etc, all of these things can affect how the beer is perceived.  You got some good scores there, I'd be happy. ;)

Other potential factors:

More experienced judges - less likely to be wowed by extreme beer, more persnickety about judging to style.

Beer warmed up or served too warm/cold - too warm might make a big beer seem too alcoholic, too cold keeps it from "opening up" properly.

Judging hall warmer/colder - my experience is that big, malt-focused beers seem more cloying and less satisfying if the hall is too hot, but more appealing if the hall is too cold.

Going from 41 (potential BoS winner) to 31 (good, but likely not a winner) is a big drop. Take a careful look at your scoresheets from the first and second rounds and try to figure out what changed.

If you're still confused and the judges had the guts to put their email addresses on their scoresheets, there's no harm in emailing the second round judges and politely asking why they assigned the scores they did. Chances are, however, they won't remember your beer in particular, so you might need to give them brief quotes from your scoresheet.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP and carbonation volumes
« on: April 05, 2012, 11:14:37 PM »
Then why list starting/ending gravities, ABV range, or IBU range when none of that can be measured by the judge other than subjectively?  If they were consistent then alcohol and IBU's would be listed as low/medium/high...or carbonation would be listed as a range of volumes.

Actually, you can sort of suss out these stats at the table. IBU ranges are detectable to about +/-5 IBU, ABV of 6+% is detectable as alcohol aroma, flavor, warmth and "legs" on the side of the glass. FG >1.015 manifests as fuller body or underattenuation, FG <1.005 manifests as watery or thin body. OG can be inferred by alcohol presence and/or body.

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