Author Topic: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet  (Read 5349 times)

Offline melferburque

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help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« on: February 05, 2012, 12:07:19 PM »
I entered my first homebrew competition yesterday, and got my results back.  I'm pretty happy with the results (30 from a nat'l BJCP judge), but I'm looking for some help interpreting the comments and how to improve my beer.

first, the recipe:

11# maris otter
2# rye malt
1# crystal 80
1# carapils

mashed at 149 deg with 4.5 gal water, batch sparged 3 gallons. origina pH was 5.4, sparge wasn't much different

1.5 oz columbus for 60 mins
2 oz cascade for 15 minutes (and whirlafloc tablet)
2 oz willamette at flameout

safale US-05 yeast, no starter.  primary for seven days, secondary for seven days with one oz citra pellets.  forced carbed and bottled two weeks after carbonation.

OG 1.065, FG 1.013

the comments:

aroma 8/12. slightly off funk in the front, backed by citrus and a light sweetness. no DMS, slight acetaldehyde

appearance 2/3.  very hazy light orange with thin off-white head.

flavor 12/20. lightly sweet, firm bitterness. some tropical notes in the mid-palette, finishes slightly resiny.

mouthfeel 3/5. medium body, medium-light carbonation, slight late astringency, no overt alcohol.

overall 7/10. very nice, almost amber-ish in impression, and slightly astringent in the finish but still tasty.

total 30/50 (not sure why, the above adds up to 32).  none of the descriptor definitions with checked off.

the carbonation is my choice, I tend to under-carb my beers.  I get too much foam off my keg otherwise, and I actually prefer a lighter carb.  too many bubbles bite my tongue in an unpleasant way.  my next go around I'll up the hops a bit, I realize the IBUs are a tad low for an IPA.  mostly I'm concerned about the astringency and acetaldehyde.

some background: I sterilize everything with iodophor.  my mash is a ten gallon igloo cooler with a false bottom. I've had trouble with my efficiency in the past, rarely getting over 60%.  I've just learned to accept the slightly lower OG.  I've also started working with yeast starters with limited results, I don't have a stir-plate and suspect that may be a problem.

any suggestions?  I'd like to tweak this recipe a couple times before entering it in the NHC.  should I worry about adding carapils AND crystal?  is my astringency or acetaldehyde due to improper sanitation?  I haven't used star-san yet, but could start if that would help.

Offline denny

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2012, 12:25:58 PM »
is my astringency or acetaldehyde due to improper sanitation? 
 

It's really doubtful.  One of the primary causes of acetaldehyde is removing the beer from the yeast too soon.  How long a fermentation did you do?  It looks like there was no mention of acetaldehyde in the flavor, so I wouldn't sweat it too much.  8/12 is pretty respectable.  I'd guess that it was more the "funk" that kept the aroma score from being higher.  That could come form the rye, but my guess is from the Willamette hops.  Do you detect any astringency yourself?  Sometimes bitterness is confused with astringency.  Finally, don't start radically changing your recipe or worrying based on comments from a single comp.  The BJCP is a great judge training tool, but judging is still subjective.  If you really want to get a good overview of a beer, enter it in several comps and compare and average the results.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2012, 12:36:51 PM »
You left out what category you entered.  I see you're calling it IPA in your notes, but I see rye in the recipe, so it may have done better in Specialty. 
Rye may account for some of the astringency.  "Funk" may have been from the citra dry hop.  If you enter it in Specialty and mention rye and citra it may score much better.
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Offline Alewyfe

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2012, 01:11:50 PM »




Quote
safale US-05 yeast, no starter.  primary for seven days, secondary for seven days with one oz citra pellets.  forced carbed and bottled two weeks after carbonation.




aroma 8/12. slightly off funk in the front, backed by citrus and a light sweetness. no DMS, slight acetaldehyde

appearance 2/3.  very hazy light orange with thin off-white head.

flavor 12/20. lightly sweet, firm bitterness. some tropical notes in the mid-palette, finishes slightly resiny.

mouthfeel 3/5. medium body, medium-light carbonation, slight late astringency, no overt alcohol.

overall 7/10. very nice, almost amber-ish in impression, and slightly astringent in the finish but still tasty.

total 30/50 (not sure why, the above adds up to 32).  none of the descriptor definitions with checked off.

the carbonation is my choice, I tend to under-carb my beers.  I get too much foam off my keg otherwise, and I actually prefer a lighter carb.  too many bubbles bite my tongue in an unpleasant way.  my next go around I'll up the hops a bit, I realize the IBUs are a tad low for an IPA.  mostly I'm concerned about the astringency and acetaldehyde.

some background: I sterilize everything with iodophor.  my mash is a ten gallon igloo cooler with a false bottom. I've had trouble with my efficiency in the past, rarely getting over 60%.  I've just learned to accept the slightly lower OG.  I've also started working with yeast starters with limited results, I don't have a stir-plate and suspect that may be a problem.

any suggestions?  I'd like to tweak this recipe a couple times before entering it in the NHC.  should I worry about adding carapils AND crystal?  is my astringency or acetaldehyde due to improper sanitation?  I haven't used star-san yet, but could start if that would help.

You mentioned only one of the judges was BJCP. What were the other judges comments? Take them as an aggregate unless you know the other people are very inexperienced. Judging is very subjective.

Did you use any finings in the boil? Irish moss or whilflock may help clear up some of the cloudyness that was mentioned. Also, dropping the temp on your secondary or keg before bottling to help anything fall out of suspension.
SO-5 has a reputation of not clearing as well as it's liquid cousin 1056. Though you really do need to do a starter with the liquid yeasts.

Acetaldehyde can be caused by sanitation issues, but it can also be caused by pulling the beer off the yeast too soon. After fermentation is is no longer visibly active, there is still a lot of "clean up" work being done by the yeast.
Try leaving the beer in the primary for a few more days.

Re: carbonation. If you are brewing for competition, you need to adhere to the style guidelines even if they are not necessarily to your personal taste. In your recipe, if you feel the color is a bit dark or it is too sweet, you could scale back the crystal to 1/2# or go with a bit lighter crystal. The comment was made that the head was thin, so you need the cara-pils.  I've found  in addition, that a couple ounces of flaked wheat always guarantees me a very nice fine bubbled head with good retention. Again, if sweetness is an issue, scale back the cara-pils by 1/2...you'll still get the body and head help from it.

Getting the timing right on a beer is important for competition as well. There's like a bell curve on a beer where it's condition and flavors continue to improve for a while after kegging or bottling. Acetaldehyde and astringency are a couple of things that you can pick up in a "green" beer that can dissipate as the beer reaches peak condition and all the flavors round out a bit. These two items were mentioned, but not discussed as serious faults, so perhaps that was the case here.

I'm not super experienced at competitions, but I have had some of the same issues and have solved them with the things I've mentioned. Good luck with your future entries. Hope some of this is helpful.

Cheers,
Diane

« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 01:17:39 PM by denny »
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Offline melferburque

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2012, 02:25:22 PM »
this was my first attempt with willamette, I had picked some up on a good deal from rebel brewer and wanted to give it a shot. if that's where the "funkiness" comes from it may be worth not using them, or scaling them back.  I've used citra many times without problems.

category was entered as a 14b American IPA.  I did note rye in the special ingredients, however.

I did use a whirlafloc tablet the last fifteen minutes of the boil.  I tend to primary and secondary a week each minimum.  it's tough for me to do much mid-week, so I don't know if it would be a problem leaving it in primary a full two weeks?  I leave the secondary fermenter in the same room as my primaries, at a constant 70 degree room temp.  after kegging they go into a fridge at 40 degrees.  I bottled this entry the night before the competition, so it had been in the fridge a couple of weeks.  sounds like I need to leave it it primary longer for the haze.

as for "astringency" I honestly have no idea.  my palette isn't refined or trained enough to know better, I just know what I like and what I don't.  I do plan to look into some BJCP courses to get a better idea of what to look for, what's good and bad, etc.

I didn't include the other two judge sheets because they were of no help, they were amateurs like me.  it was a small competition with only a handful of "real" judges.  the amateurs scored me a few points higher, but the comments were very vague. the only useful comments from them was regarding the taste clearing out too soon, and that is likely due to the IBUs being on the low end.

I had entered the same beer in the Greater Everett Beer League Hop Madness IPA bracket. it appears like I made the initial cut onto the bracket (from 150 or so entries to top 64) but did not advance beyond that.  I look forward to their scoresheets in the mail next week, as I'm sure they'll have some more helpful info.  it was a pisser having two competitions on the same day (and Seattle Belgianfest) but I felt obligated to attend the startup PinBrew in Tacoma.

I did contact the judge running the PinBrew competition to ask him for some more feedback, but he hasn't responded yet.  I'm also trying to find a way to meet up with my local club(s), I haven't had a chance yet due to scheduling conflicts.

I'll definitely keep the carbonation note in mind next time I enter a competition, and up the bubbles a bit.

thanks for the feedback!  don't suppose anyone is local to Seattle and would like a sample?

Offline hokerer

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2012, 03:04:40 PM »
I did use a whirlafloc tablet the last fifteen minutes of the boil.  I tend to primary and secondary a week each minimum.  it's tough for me to do much mid-week, so I don't know if it would be a problem leaving it in primary a full two weeks?  I leave the secondary fermenter in the same room as my primaries, at a constant 70 degree room temp.

There's something you need to fix.  First off, two (or more) weeks in primary is absolutely no problem.  What may be part of your problem, though, is that fermentation temp.  Fermentation is exothermic so the temp of the wort itself, during the vigorous part of fermentation can be as much as 5-10F above room temp.  Fermenting at those temps can lead to all sorts of off flavors and flaws. 

Try something simple like putting your primary in a tub of water and put a frozen water bottle or two in the tub.  Whatever it takes to keep the temp down in the low 60's.  That'll give you much cleaner fermentations.
Joe

Offline melferburque

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2012, 03:18:22 PM »
in the wintertime, keeping the temp down won't be a problem.  I'd been keeping the room WARMER because I was under the impression it should be in the 65-70 degree range.  I can easily turn off the heater, my fermenting room is a finished "office" in the garage.  it's normally about 50 degrees out there without the heat on.  what room temp should I aim for?  I have the adhesive thermometers on my fermenters and have tried to keep them in the ale range.

summertime is another story, I think I'll need to invest in a small A/C unit.  it can get to be 100+ degrees in that garage when the temps hit 80 outside, and the wife doesn't like me fermenting in the house. you have ONE little beersplosion in the middle of the night, spend a few hours cleaning krausen off the ceiling, and you never hear the end of it.

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2012, 03:39:21 PM »
what room temp should I aim for?  I have the adhesive thermometers on my fermenters and have tried to keep them in the ale range.

Don't aim for a room temp.  Those stick-on strips are remarkably accurate at indicating the temp of the wort inside the fermenter - just ignore the "ale range" that's printed on them.  Aim for keeping the stick-on reading 65F for the duration of fermentation and see if you like the result better.
Joe

Offline denny

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2012, 03:41:16 PM »
it's tough for me to do much mid-week, so I don't know if it would be a problem leaving it in primary a full two weeks?

It's not a problem at all.  I think you'll find a lot of people here (including me) whose primary regularly goes 4 weeks.  There's no harm in that and I've found it to be beneficial.

as for "astringency" I honestly have no idea.

Astringency is an easy one...it's a dry mouthfeel, like chewing on a grape skin.  If you've never done that, go get some grapes and try it.  Many people, however, tend to confuse bitterness with astringency.  2 completely different things.

There are several people here for the Seattle area.  Shoot a PM to Tom Schmidlim (tschmidlin here) and ask him.
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Offline bonjour

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2012, 04:24:03 PM »
I just caught the Citra hops.

Some judges get only "Cat Piss" from this hop, others get nothing like that. 
Could be the source of your "funk"

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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2012, 06:44:44 PM »
Finally, don't start radically changing your recipe or worrying based on comments from a single comp.  The BJCP is a great judge training tool, but judging is still subjective.  If you really want to get a good overview of a beer, enter it in several comps and compare and average the results.

+1,000,000.  Always enter numerous competitions and don't change anything in your recipe based on one single judge's opinion, unless you are certain you can detect the very same defect.

Also, always question anytime a judge says "astringency".  The term is thrown out there constantly but I swear that more than 50% of judges have no business using the term because they have no concept of the difference between it and hop bitterness.  The grape skin experiment is a great one because grape skins truly are not bitter at all, but they will dry out your mouth!

I agree with Fred that Citra hops can be "funky".  I do pick up just a slight touch of "cat piss" from it, but much moreso I get huge mango, pineapple, and grapefruit.  Very very tropical, and probably my all-time favorite non-noble hop.
Dave

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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2012, 08:17:13 AM »
First, leave it in primary for two weeks to clean up acetylaldehyde. You can dry hop in primary or in the keg (put hops in a stainless tea ball) in the keg.

Also, the biggest error I've seen from new contestants is not realizing that the style guidelines are fairly strict. A rye IPA should not be entered as an IPA since it doesn't meet those guidelines, it should be in specialty with IPA listed as a base and rye and citra hops listed as specialty ingredients. In many competitions, judges don't see the recipe unless they ask for it - and they probably won't do that too often because it is time consuming.
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2012, 03:14:51 AM »
aroma 8/12. slightly off funk in the front, backed by citrus and a light sweetness. no DMS, slight acetaldehyde

Unless you're editing the comments, IMO you didn't get your money's worth from the judge. I'd expect a lot more description than you got from a National level judge, and I really hate vague, unhelpful terms like "funk." If this guy was proctoring an exam beer, I'd be swearing at him through the entire exam set as I graded it. He might be Nationally ranked, but he wasn't up to scratch when he scored your beer.

Given that your beer's a strong Rye IPA, possibly made with old hops, and possibly fermented too warm, there's at least six things that could account for the "funk" and he didn't mention any of them in aroma, flavor or overall impression.

Other folks have hit some of the points, I'll try to fill in a few more.

1) Rye + Acetaldehyde + American hops - Spicy rye plus green apple plus citrusy piney hops could throw some unusual flavors and aromas that even a Grand Master might not be able to sort out.

2) Old Hops - If you got a good deal on Willamette, they might have been old or improperly stored. If you got notes like Roquefort cheese in the aroma or flavor, that's a telltale sign of old hops. It's subtle, but definitely "funky." If you have any of the suspect hops still around, smell them - really huff them to get the aroma deep into your nasal passages. If you pick up cheesy and/or grassy notes, and/or if the hops are brownish and fall apart easily, you've got old hops.

3) Phenols + higher alcohols - The classic sign of beer fermented at too high a temperature, or stressed due to poor yeast management, is phenols and solventy notes (along with esters). At low levels, masked by high hopping levels, they might also be perceived as "funk." If you're brewing a big beer like the one you describe without making a yeast starter and fermenting at possibly warm temperatures or in an environment where there could be temperature swings, you're just asking for trouble.

Even so, you got a decent score for aroma, so my guess is that the judge was just describing the hop character. Sometimes American hops can indeed smell "catty" or sometimes like fresh marijuana (which often gets described euphemistically as "dank").

Other folks have mentioned the acetaldehyde problem. I agree with the people who say it's a fermentation problem. If it was an infection, the green apple notes would come with prominent sour or unpleasant sulfury aromas. My guess is that your sanitation's just fine. Any sanitizer works just fine if you're using it right.

appearance 2/3.  very hazy light orange with thin off-white head.

Probably lost a point here for low carbonation levels and haze. An IPA should have a thick, lingering head.

Very hazy could mean a number of things. Slight hop haze is OK in this style, but turbid isn't.

Does haze clear as the beer warms? If so, you've definitely got chill haze - which would also explain the astringency problem. Be careful to not let the temperature of your grains go above ~168-170 *F, that's the big astringency producer. Other tips: recirculate your runnings until they're clear before running them into your boil kettle. Don't grind your grain too fine (bits of powdered husk can get into the boil kettle). Don't collect runoff below 0.08 S.G. Don't let your runoff pH rise above 5.8.

If the haze doesn't clear once the beer gets closer to room temperature, it's probably protein and/or starch haze. Not surprising for a rye beer which is high in both. If you think the haze is a problem and you have the technology to do so, consider a protein/beta-glucan rest @ ~120 *F for 15-20 minutes, before stepping up the temperature to starch conversion temp.

Low CO2 might not seem like a big deal, but flat beer doesn't outgas as much, so it decreases aroma. Lack of CO2 also changes flavor perception and mouthfeel, making the beer seem sweeter and fuller-bodied. Since you're kegging, it's easy enough to bump up the CO2 before you bottle for competition.

flavor 12/20. lightly sweet, firm bitterness. some tropical notes in the mid-palette, finishes slightly resiny.

Here's where you got killed on the score. 12 out of 20 means that the judge got a serious letdown between smelling the beer and tasting it, putting flavor on the low side of an average score. You probably had solid malt character (nothing wrong with your malt bill) since there were no comments criticizing it, but if it's an American IPA the tropical notes are out of place (unless they came from hops). Fruity notes are from esters, which point to problems with fermentation temperature; Safale-05 should give a relatively neutral (i.e., not a whole lot of) yeast character at proper fermentation temps.

No mention of hop flavor except in the finish could have been the judge phoning it in, or it could mean that you're not getting as much flavor and aroma out of your late hops as you might (although your hopping schedule looks very generous). Again, this could be old hops, or it could be beer that's past its peak or otherwise oxidized. If the beer was at the peak of freshness, consider dry hopping to get more hop complexity. If you want to get fancy, you can also do first-wort hopping in addition to everything else. Basically, use any trick in the book to get that hop character.

mouthfeel 3/5. medium body, medium-light carbonation, slight late astringency, no overt alcohol.

The judge mentions CO2 being on the low side, so that's definitely a problem. The slight astringency could be due to hops and/or minerals such as sulfates which can enhance perception of hop dryness. As long as your mash technique is good I wouldn't beat yourself up about it.

overall 7/10. very nice, almost amber-ish in impression, and slightly astringent in the finish but still tasty.

No suggestions for feedback here from the judge, unless you've edited the comments. That's very bad form on the judge's part.

My guess here is that the judge was impressed by the malt character, although he didn't say much about it in the flavor and aroma sections where it belongs. If malt character was dominant in what's basically a strong Rye IPA, that might mean that you're not getting as much hop character as you want. Or, it could just be referring to the rather chewy, slightly caramel malt character underlying high hopping levels.

total 30/50 (not sure why, the above adds up to 32).  none of the descriptor definitions with checked off.

The judge didn't add his score right. It happens. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and call it a 32.

My ignorant guess is that you could bring up bittering hops (or, rather, bittering IBU - less green stuff, more alphas to reduce hop astringency) by 0.5 to 1 oz. and perhaps add 0.5 to 1 oz. of dry hops in secondary.

Also, if you're consistently getting extract yields below 60% range, you're doing something wrong with your mashing technique.
This could be something as simple as not mashing for long enough (go for 30-60 minutes), a mash tun that loses too much heat during mashing (unlikely, though with your setup), not sparging long enough (go for a long, slow runoff - 30+ minutes) or poor grain crush (are you using a Corona mill?)

Another possibility is that your thermometer is calibrated incorrectly, so you're hitting temperatures way above or below starch conversion temps. I speak from sad experience! :) If so, that would also account for any starch haze you're getting (i.e., in beers made without grains like wheat or rye).

should I worry about adding carapils AND crystal?

Not really. Cara- malts are more for body, crystal gives more sweetness and specialty malt flavor and aroma.

Offline denny

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2012, 09:22:13 AM »
Good analysis, Thomas.
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Offline anthony

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Re: help interpreting BJCP scoresheet
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2012, 11:12:02 AM »
I was also going to add that you should definitely expect something a little more verbose from a Nationally ranked BJCP judge.

I am kind of on the fence with regards to comments that this should have been entered as a specialty beer. It seems to be around 12% rye. In my mind a rye IPA is more in the 15-20% (like Denny's Rye IPA recipe) range. Ultimately it really only depends on one thing though: "Versions with a noticeable Rye character (“RyePA”) should be entered in the Specialty category."

If you haven't already gotten it, I strongly recommend Gordon Strong's book about brewing because it really covers aspects of competition brewing that no other book really does.