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Messages - thomasbarnes

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Bluebonnet scores
« on: April 15, 2012, 08:21:56 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 06, 2012, 06:14:37 AM »
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.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP and carbonation volumes
« on: April 06, 2012, 06:09:24 AM »
Remember, the guidelines are there to assist in *judging* a beer. Helping brewers formulate recipes isn't the BJCP's job.

Listing typical ingredients and techniques can help judges give feedback, which is an important part of judging. Generally, though, you're right. The BJCP guidelines are competition rules, not a recipe book.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP Entrance Exam is now available
« on: April 06, 2012, 05:56:15 AM »
First (directed at an earlier post T made), I will not allow anyone to even waste my time signing up for the taste exam unless they have passed the entrance exam.

I agree. I was just pointing out that the BJCP is trying to be flexible when dealing with experienced judges who were planning on retaking the legacy exam.

Second, the format for the written exam is spelled out:
five questions with each comprising 20% of the total score. Of the five questions, two are style-related, one is a recipe question, and two are technical questions related to ingredients or brewing process.

Thanks for catching that. I knew I'd seen it somewhere.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP Entrance Exam is now available
« on: April 06, 2012, 05:53:39 AM »
And, I did the qualifying exam last night out of curiosity and also to make sure I'm not wasting anyone's time  :) I passed.

Congratulations. Let's hope that you get a seat.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP Entrance Exam is now available
« on: April 06, 2012, 05:51:37 AM »
I will add the BJCP documents do suggest one sign up for the tasting before taking the online exam.

Given the current demand, it's silly to take the qualifier exam until you have a slot reserved for the tasting exam.

Possibly the new exam structure will discourage people from backing out. If you've already got skin in the game, even if it's $10, and a time limit of 1 year before you have to start over from scratch, you might be more motivated to show up for the tasting exam.

I can't take people bailing out the exam that personally. For some folks it's change of interests, attacks of nerves or lack of preparation - if they're not prepared, why waste everyone's time by forcing them to write a crummy exam.

Other people get sick or have Serious Stuff crop up. Given the lead time to get an exam seat, you can't predict what's going to happen to you in the meantime.

What is polite, though, is to RSVP. People who know they're going to have to bail should give at least 2 weeks notice, preferably a month.

Let's just hope that the new exam structure gets more graders back in the system, so the number of scheduled exams can be increased. Right now, everyone's watching and waiting to see how the new exam structure affects things.

All Grain Brewing / Re: NHC brew letdown
« on: April 06, 2012, 05:34:02 AM »
Thanks Thomasbarnes.  There's something not right with the cider. I'm gonna re-do for personal consumption.

Define "not right." Is it just the cider not wanting to clear or off-flavors?

You might have some wild yeast in there that aren't wanting to flocculate and which are throwing off-flavors. In cider, wild yeast tend to come across more as sharp and slightly vinous, perhaps with a bit of smoke.

Events / Re: Regional Conferences?
« on: April 06, 2012, 05:28:01 AM »
Regional conferences could also be combined with NHC first round judging.

They'd also be good training grounds for clubs who are looking to host the NHC Nationals down the line.

Fair or not, big metro areas will always have an advantage when hosting competitions, just because they're better set up for the convention trade, have better transportation infrastructure and more of a critical mass of volunteers to make a big convention happen.

Clubs in smaller cities will need to form regional consortiums to be competitive. Also, having a good, well-established, active HB club really helps. St. Paul/Minneapolis and Cincinnati aren't huge cities, but because they have very good, active clubs, they got the conference in years past.

Events / Re: 1st Round Judging Sign Up for St. Paul Now Open
« on: April 06, 2012, 05:18:38 AM »
First round judging for the Upper Midwest region of the AHA National Hombrew Competition will take place on April 13-14th in St. Paul.

Just about every competition is getting hammered with entries this spring.

In my part of the world, several competitions which have previously only gotten ~300 have gotten >500.

I'm judge director for a competition coming up in the next couple of weeks and I'm scrambling for judges, too.

I just hope you have a venue where you can add additional judging sessions.

Beer Recipes / Re: critique my first all grain
« on: April 06, 2012, 05:14:38 AM »
Interesting recipe.

If I had to be a Style Purist, my guess is that the base beer would be sort of a strong amber mild.

Ingredients / Re: Undermodified pils malt?
« on: April 06, 2012, 05:10:07 AM »
I was hoping to find some of the "traditional lager malts" he's talking about, in the 34-36% range, but I don't think those exist anymore.

What are you trying to achieve with the lower diastatic power? You might be able to lower the overall conversion potential of the mash by adding some Munich, Vienna or light toasted malt.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Sour finish in beers using S-05
« on: April 06, 2012, 05:03:53 AM »
I would say it has a more "dusty" character for lack of a better word. Not quite as clean, definitely not as noticeable in hoppy ales, as you say. "Mild yeast bite" is how I guess I would characterize it.

I always think of "yeast bite" as being due to autolysis. Perhaps the yeasties are dying before they flocc out, or perhaps you just need to be really aggressive about racking off the trub once you get the clarity you want.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Aerate Starter?
« on: April 06, 2012, 05:00:41 AM »
Recent scoresheets have made me wonder whether I'm aerating my wort properly.

What sort of feedback are you getting and what styles were you brewing?

While aerating your wort is a good thing, there might be other issues. Yeast stress doesn't just come from lack of aeration and insufficient starter - look at yeast nutrition (especially if doing beers with more than about 20% adjunct sugars), fermentation temperature (both pitching temperature and overall temp.), temperature swings and original gravity.

Wood/Casks / Re: beer style for red wine barrels
« on: April 06, 2012, 04:56:22 AM »
I completely agree, we were planning a flanders red or lambic for the second use.

Flanders Red for the first batch, unless the previous beer was something that doesn't leave too much character in the barrel. Lambic or American Sour for subsequent batches, since the bugs from the Flanders Red will get into the wood.

If you decide not to do a Flanders Red for the first batch, I think you'd need a relatively strong amber or brown beer - without too much hop or dark roast - to stand up to the barrel character. You can always do test batches and doctor them with whatever wine the barrel originally contained to get a sense of what the combined effects will be like.

Whatever you do, however, get moving quickly. There's a lot of air and a lot of alcohol in that cask, and the air is full of acetobacteria looking to move in and set up shop.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: BJCP and carbonation volumes
« on: April 03, 2012, 09:56:17 AM »
Oh really?  I lost out on a BOS due to my brew being "slightly under carbonated".  It was the only "ding" against it.

How do you know, did you witness the BOS? Generally no notes are kept from the BOS table, at least not in our neck of the woods.

He could have watched it. Lots of BoS panels are held in front of an audience.

Also, BoS panels can turn into endurance contests. It's possible that the beer had the right level of CO2 to start with, but had gone flat 45 minutes later.

Lower than expected carbonation can cause a whole host of dings - appearance, aroma, flavor and mouthfeel can all be affected. In fact I often serve a nearly flat beer during the BJCP exam and the major flaw, carbonation, is always noted, but many other things can be underwhelming and notable when the carbonation level is too low.


Poor carbonation will mess up aroma perception because less stuff is outgassed, it will make flavor seem sweeter because of lack of CO2 "bite" and will make body seem heavier for the same reason. The surest way to turn a good beer from a contender to an also-ran is to undercarbonate it.

My guess for CO2 volumes is that any beer that the BJCP describes as having "low" carbonation should have less than 2 volumes of pressure. Anything with "medium" carbonation gets 2-2.5 and anything with high carbonation gets 2.5-3.0+ volumes.

As others have said, there are tables which list CO2 volumes for specific styles. Books and websites on commercial beer draft systems should have the info you need.

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