« on: July 19, 2010, 12:58:49 AM »
Number one, there are often going to be a few dud "judges", whether ranked, non-ranked, or otherwise, where you can basically throw their feedback in the trash because that's how much good it will do you.
A sign of a good judge, regardless of rank, is a well-filled out score sheet, with at least 2 practical suggestions for improvement for any beer which doesn't score at least 35+. Most judges concentrate their feedback in the "overall impression" section, so look there first.
The fact is, when you force consensus, either one side will quickly give in to the others' insistence, or they'll get into a fistfight.
This isn't my experience. Judges are in a hurry, so they're not going to stand their ground unless they absolutely think that the other judge is wrong and they've "fallen in love" with a particular beer.
Judge A (who can detect VKDs at 0.2 ppm): "I'm getting too much diacetyl in this beer for it to really hit the style."
Judge B (who couldn't detect butter on movie popcorn): "I think this is the best beer we've tasted so far in the flight. I can't detect any diacetyl and I think it nails the style."
More typically, judges will quickly adjust their scores up or down a few points to get within 7. Often, the point spread is even closer than that. Lots of judges, myself included, like to get within 3-4 points.
Judge A: "Alright, I know I detect butter in just about anything I taste, and I will grant that the malt complexity is there. I'll come up by 2 points."
Judge B: I'll admit that I have trouble figuring out what people mean by "artificial butter flavor," and I think I'm getting a tiny bit of green apple sourness. I'll come down by 3 points. That will put us within 7 of each other."
One more word of advice -- If you really want to know if your beer is to style, make sure you enter at least 3, if not more, BJCP-sanctioned competitions.
Better yet, show up at your local homebrew club meeting, or BJCP training session, with a couple of bottles of your beer. Ask for feedback from BJCP judges whose feedback you've found to be useful and let them sample your beer. Same feedback, no entry fee, delivered to you in real time.