Author Topic: Style Questions  (Read 1847 times)

Offline gmac

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2023
  • London, Ontario
    • View Profile
Style Questions
« on: February 04, 2012, 12:02:20 PM »
I have a few style questions so I figured I'd put them all here in one message and hopefully you can help me better understand.  I am trying to be as close to BJCP style guidelines as I can for the next few batches in case I decide to enter some in competition.  With the NHC regionals in a few months, I figured it would be best to stay closer to style in case I make something good and decide to enter it.

1.  APA - should an APA be dry-hopped similar to an AIPA?  The guidelines say it can be but for competitions, does it really have to be in order to score well?  I don't dry hop much so I'm not sure what to do.

2. AAA - I'm confused about ambers.  The guidelines say low to moderate hop aroma but I've heard others sources (Jamil show for example) advocating high levels of hoppiness.  Which is the right way or does it depend on the judges?

3a.  Saison - I made a saison with Wyeast French Saison yeast that I thought was fantastic but in two different competitions, it didn't score that well (although it would have scored higher if the judge could add his points properly...).  Is this yeast the wrong one for saisons in competition?  I really like this one but I'm wondering if people are expecting different characteristics from the DuPont strain or something.  Obviously I could have made a bad batch but I thought it was pretty close to the style guidelines.  Feedback on the forms were pretty minimal on this one.

3b.  I've been spicing my saison with coriander, pepper, ginger and grapefruit zest, all in fairly subtle amounts.  Is this correct for a beer in competition or would I fair better with only malt and hops?

4.  I have a nice wheat beer that I made as a "winter wheat" and added a bit of darker malt for colour.  The colour is probably about 8 SRM.  It's fairly similar to a Blue Moon in colour.  The guidelines say 3-6 SRM for American Wheat.  How big a deal is it to be a touch darker?  Should I re-brew to get closer in colour? 

Thanks in advance for the advice.

Offline andyi

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2012, 02:26:25 PM »

3a. I have had saisons with 3711 place in comps. Comps are fun and placing can validate your skills to brew to "style" (at that point in time anyway).  At the end of the day all that matters is you and your friends enjoy the beer.

Oh yeah, has anyone else experienced skunkiness from Saison DuPont sold off the shelf?  Damn geen bottles >:(

Offline jlap

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012, 03:15:22 PM »
I'm only a certified judge but this is what I would say based on my own brewing and competition experience:

1. APA's do not have to be dry hopped to do well but they do need to have a fairly strong hop flavor and aroma.  There is a trend toward making APA's bigger and hoppier but I think judges generally key in on malt character and balance more for APA than for IPA.  If you don't like a strong hop aroma/flavor in your APA then I would suggest you find a way to develop a "signature" malt character that adds interest.  A balanced APA with an interesting malt character and medium intensity citrus hop character should be able to do pretty well if it is well fermented.

2. American Amber is often a pretty screwy category.  The style guidelines describe the older versions of the style that no one really gets excited about any more.  If you brew a "West Coast Red" you may get a judge who really appreciates it even though it is outside of the current style guidelines.  However, if they go by the guidelines you may lose points for being out of style.  I used to brew a red pretty often and got tired of not knowing how it would be received by the judges.  It got a lot of high 30's scores and 3rd places on beers that were really better than that when compared to commercial examples of reds.  I tried entering it as a specialty beer but that didn't really work either because the beers in the category tend to be so diverse.  It also depends a lot on where the competition is...I hope that this style will get straightened out somewhat in the next edition of the guidelines.

3. I don't know a lot about Saison but I believe that if the spice impression is obvious you should enter it elsewhere.  It should not be as intense a flavor component as spices in the Witbier.

4. I think you could get away with a darker color on your American Wheat.  For one thing, most extract beers are going to be that dark anyway and there aren't very many points you could lose on color.  Now if there is even a light "roast" character that is another matter and would probably cost you in that category.  Judges may pick it out just because they'll be looking for some reason why the beer is darker.

Offline dmtaylor

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 773
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2012, 06:26:56 PM »

1) In this day and age, you might get dinged in competition if you don’t have a lot of hop flavor and aroma in your APA similar to what one might expect from an AIPA of old.  You can enter it as an APA, but I wouldn’t expect it to score a medal because American tastes (even those of judges) have changed considerably over the past ~10 years to APAs with much more hops than they probably really *should* have IMHO.

2) Depends on the judges is right.  If you try a Red Seal Ale, it’s an excellent example of an AAA that probably wouldn’t score too well these days because again, Americans love their frickin hops so much.  It’s too bad, really.  Again, you can enter it as an AAA, which is technically correct, but it will lose to other entries that have more hops.  Gosh, I really hate how this all works but I do believe it is usually true.

3a) Not sure what to say on this one.  My guess is, if your beer didn’t have a final gravity between 1.000 and 1.005, it’s not going to score as well as one that does.  Judges expect a saison to be BONE dry.

3b) A little spicing is a very good idea in a saison, as long as it’s just barely detectable.  As soon as it becomes real obvious, it’s not very good anymore.  So be real careful with your spicing.

4) Enter your hefeweizen as she is.  You’ll only lose one or two points for darker than style.  Not a real big deal as long as it doesn’t taste super malty.
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 markaberrant

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 251
  • Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
    • View Profile
    • ALES Club
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2012, 09:07:13 PM »
APA and AAA - while technically not required, there is an expectation for a fresh hop aroma, typically achieved by dry hopping.  On average, Canadian judges don't quite expect the same level of hop character as Amercian, but this is changing, and if you advance to the 2nd round, you are definitely going to need a hoppy fresh example to stand a chance.

Saison - in my experience, many Canadian judges have little to no understanding of what a saison should taste like (I remember entering one and getting knocked by all 3 judges for not enough body/sweetness and too much carbonation).  You can certainly score well with 3711.  What comps did you enter the saison in?  Spicing is ok too, as long as it is subtle.

American Wheat - as already stated colour only counts for 1 point, but it still needs to taste like an american wheat.

I definitely encourage you to enter the NHC Canadian Qualifer!

Offline weithman5

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1668
  • naperville, il
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2012, 09:58:33 PM »
meh
Don AHA member

Offline gmac

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2023
  • London, Ontario
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2012, 10:19:23 PM »
APA and AAA - while technically not required, there is an expectation for a fresh hop aroma, typically achieved by dry hopping.  On average, Canadian judges don't quite expect the same level of hop character as Amercian, but this is changing, and if you advance to the 2nd round, you are definitely going to need a hoppy fresh example to stand a chance.

Saison - in my experience, many Canadian judges have little to no understanding of what a saison should taste like (I remember entering one and getting knocked by all 3 judges for not enough body/sweetness and too much carbonation).  You can certainly score well with 3711.  What comps did you enter the saison in?  Spicing is ok too, as long as it is subtle.

American Wheat - as already stated colour only counts for 1 point, but it still needs to taste like an american wheat.

I definitely encourage you to enter the NHC Canadian Qualifer!

Oh I'll be entering the NHC Canadian Qualifier.  Looking forward to it.

My saison had a FG of 1.001 or so.  It was as dry as I can see it getting.  The two events that it was entered in were the Toronto beer week (I got the comments back today, after I posted this and the exact quote was "we really wouldn't call this a saison, we'd call it a damn fine beer though" and the CABA All About Ales competition where it scored 36 (but the judges only gave it 32 because they can't add).  I'm gonna go ahead with it anyway.  My thought is that you are right and that the judges did not really know how to handle it.  Obviously I'm biased but I think the spicing was not really perceptible and was nicely balanced but like I said, I'm obviously biased. 

My APA is strongly hop forward and I think pretty characteristic of the style as it is written.  It got a gold at that same CABA event and I'm going to be entering it in April but I was trying to decide if I needed to add dry hopping to make it more "judge friendly".  I've never done an AAA and I was going to do one for a friend but I thought I'd ask about hoppiness just in case I decided to bottle off a few bottles first. 

For the wheat, there is absolutely no perceptible roast character, at least to my amateur palate.  I added 1 tbsp of chocolate to the sparge for colour only since I was gonna be drinking it in the winter - hence "winter wheat".  I wouldn't bother in the summer but I was playing around and it turned out quite nice.

Thanks for the comments.

Offline dmtaylor

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 773
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2012, 06:32:36 AM »
*Nods to the Canadians*  Sorry for assuming you were from USA.  I should know better.  FWIW, I just had the most awesome vacation through London, Toronto, and Niagara Falls for 10 days last summer.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Just one other thing that maybe I should have said before.  You can get away with a little less hop character in an AAA.  But just make sure there is *something* there for hopheads to latch onto.  The APA, it's got to be bigger these days.  10 years ago, you could get away with less.  Not anymore.  And I would seriously be willing to assume that Canadian tastes aren't too much different from USA, but I can't call myself an expert on that.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 06:36:50 AM by dmtaylor »
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 markaberrant

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 251
  • Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
    • View Profile
    • ALES Club
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2012, 09:19:06 PM »
And I would seriously be willing to assume that Canadian tastes aren't too much different from USA, but I can't call myself an expert on that.

It really depends on if you are a Canadian that has only drank beers available in Canada, or if you have gone out of your way to drink the best the world has to offer.  We end up with individual palettes/judges that are not on the same page.  Now most judges will know the difference, but the most well known IPA in Canada is Alexander Keiths (made by Labbatts)... yet it is nothing but a fizzy yellow adjunct lager... talk about confusing your consumers.  Most of our craft made Canadian IPAs are more like American Pale Ales...

It has gotten better, but we are still light years behind the US in terms of craft beer culture.

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7223
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2012, 10:01:44 PM »
meh

My thoughts exactly. But we're down to splitting hairs for most of them. Don't go makin an IAPA or you'll get lost... ;)
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline gmac

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2023
  • London, Ontario
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2012, 01:01:49 PM »
meh

My thoughts exactly. But we're down to splitting hairs for most of them. Don't go makin an IAPA or you'll get lost... ;)
Can't say I really understood the "meh". 
IAPA?  Strong and hoppy but not too hoppy but sort of hoppy while being strong?

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7223
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2012, 04:56:27 PM »
No just funning with the idea of an Imperial American Pale ale.  Which is probably just an IPA...

The thought of meh is that styles aren't a driving factor in my brewing. Though I do understand if it is for others!
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline a10t2

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3163
  • Ask me why I don't like Chico!
    • View Profile
    • SeanTerrill.com
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2012, 05:45:00 PM »
The thought of meh is that styles aren't a driving factor in my brewing. Though I do understand if it is for others!

But... Without winning medals in competitions, how do you prove you're better than other people? ???
Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own.
http://seanterrill.com/category/brewing/

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7223
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2012, 06:23:34 PM »
That's a good question. But, I can say with a degree of confidence that your beer is probably better than mine. 8)

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: Style Questions
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2012, 12:52:58 AM »
That's a good question. But, I can say with a degree of confidence that your beer is probably better than mine. 8)
It may or may not be euge, but yours is closer.  A bird in hand . . . :)
Tom Schmidlin