Author Topic: First Time Judging Specialty Category  (Read 1201 times)

Offline tomsawyer

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First Time Judging Specialty Category
« on: December 07, 2011, 01:50:21 PM »
I haven't judged this category before, and in reading the guidelines it seems like I'll be providing a mostly hedonistic impression with the only potential guiding factor being if they specify a base beer style that is then modified.  Any advice for me going into this?
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: First Time Judging Specialty Category
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2011, 02:48:52 PM »
Smart entrants will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect, so then you judge it according to your expectations based on their description.  If they just say "dark witbier" and nothing else, it doesn't give the judges much to go on, and you're forced to judge it purely hedonistically.  But if the entrant instead says "witbier with black malt, black pepper, and anise" then you have a better idea of what you should be getting from it.  In an ideal universe, entrants would all strive to be that specific.  But in reality, they probably won't.

So.... you'll need to search your palate deeply to try to detect all the various complexities that might be present, and describe all flavors detected to the very best of your ability, and compliment the entrant on a job well done if it works with the beer, or feel free to scold them if it makes an otherwise decent beer taste like garbage.  Your gut might tell you that a "peanut butter and pineapple stout" is not the greatest idea in the world, so you are freely allowed to score it as such if the aroma and flavor confirms it for you.  But also keep an open mind, because you never know when you just might be very pleasantly surprised.

The hardest ones to judge might be the "sneeble & snozberry porter" when you have never tasted sneebles or snozberries before in your life.  Then of course all you can do is judge by how it tastes, just as best as you can.

One other opinion I have is: While tasting, constantly ask yourself if this is a beer that either conneisseurs or John Q. Public would positively LOVE and CRAVE if released to the public.  Those beers should be exceedingly rare and deserve scores in the 40s.  But if it's got no technical flaws but it's just a plain jane brew -- sure you could drink one or maybe two, but you wouldn't buy a whole 6-pack for $6.99 -- then it deserves about a 30, or maybe less.  And if it just sucks, or has any glaring flaws, 20s.  I like to look for if the beer is either A) elegant in its simplicity, or B) mindblowingly complex.  If it's neither of those two, I wouldn't give it above about a 32.

Anyway....... you know in your heart of hearts that 99% of these beers are going to be Black IPAs anyway, and you know what to expect from that.  So be ready for it..... here it comes....... that, or Cascadian Dark Ale.  What a crock..... but I digress............
Dave

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker, and glory to His bounty, by learning about... BEER!" - Friar Tuck (Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves)

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: First Time Judging Specialty Category
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2011, 09:00:09 PM »
I could live with black IPA's!  And I can google snozberries on my iphone if necessary.  Thanks for a thoughtful reply, I'll read it again before judging and give it my best shot.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: First Time Judging Specialty Category
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2011, 02:38:11 PM »
Back from the contest, it was a long weekend.  Two flights of fourteen and a flight of eleven, plus extra-curricular tasting and a trip to a local microbrewery.

Judging the Specialty Beers was interesting.  Quite a few of them were standard styles that were just a little higher in hops or OG, and I thought these would have been better entere in their normal style categories.  There were some more interesting ones, and we ended up giving first place to a bourbon vanilla imperial porter, and second to a session style pale ale that was only 2.9% ABV.  I found out at the awards presentations that the BVIP was brewed by a guy who works at a LHBS in StL, who I'd just met the week before.  When I talked to him I found out his recipe was none other than the Denny Conn BVIP.  I should've realized that.  Stuff was excellent, and it came out of our half of the flight.

I would also mention that Stan Heironymous judged the category as well.  He wasn't my partner but we did get to talk, and I made him try my kriek later.  He didn't spit it out so as long as you don't hear of him dying from a mysterious infection, I'll assume he thought it was OK.  He's supposedly working on a book about hops, that is exciting.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 03:56:20 AM by tomsawyer »
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: First Time Judging Specialty Category
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2011, 03:58:47 AM »
Also managed to get down to the Urban Chestnut (microbrewery) to try their Winged Nut chestnut ale, and a pint of a British pale ale that was my favorite.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline stlaleman

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Re: First Time Judging Specialty Category
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2011, 05:42:39 AM »
If I had known it was you who headed down to Urban Chestnut Saturday, I would have accepted Larry's invite. You did go down with Larry, right?

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: First Time Judging Specialty Category
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2011, 05:51:58 AM »
Yep, Larry and I went down and had a pint and and a sampler and made it back in plenty of time for dinner.  I hadn't been to UC except for trying their wheat beer at the Soulard Ofest.  Looks like they have quite a nice brewery.

Next time I'm down to StL I'll give you a shout and buy you and Josh a beer.  And again, thanks for the donation.  You'll see me rattling on about it for some time to come, and it will see plenty of use.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 06:00:48 AM by tomsawyer »
Lennie
Hannibal, MO