Author Topic: Recipe similarity in competition  (Read 3443 times)

Offline gmac

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2108
  • London, Ontario
    • View Profile
Recipe similarity in competition
« on: February 08, 2012, 08:51:03 AM »
There was another post about the recipes in Brewing Classic Styles and after reading it, I decided to ask this question that's been on my mind for a while.

This is most likely a question for BJCP judges or those who've judged brewing events but since the publication of BCS, has there been in increase in similarity of beers in competition?  I've heard comments on the internet about someone winning a medal with one of these recipes and it got me wondering how many people enter what is essentially the same beer.  I know that process and equipment etc., can all have a dramatic impact on the final result but how much individual character is there between entries in the same category?

Personally, I try to develop my own recipe for everything I make but I'm sure mine are coincidentally similar to beers that others make or have made.  Of course, it would be a lie if I said I didn't refer to books like BCS, Designing Great Beers, Radical Brewing etc for ideas or to clarify the appropriateness of an ingredient but I try to add my own character as well  Just wondered how similar the beers are that are being made.

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 13290
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2012, 09:16:17 AM »
IMO, recipe counts for maybe 10%, at most 20%, of the finished beer.  Ingredient choice and quality and brewing techniques are a much bigger factor.  For instance, at one NHC I tasted 7 different versions of my Rye IPA recipe.  None tasted like the other and none tasted like mine does.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline bluesman

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8808
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2012, 10:00:54 AM »
I agree with Denny...quality ingredients, freshness of the ingredients and a very sound process are paramount to producing a second round winner. I think process techniques account for the largest percentage of a winning beer and that comes with experience level.
Ron Price

Online hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 5669
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2012, 10:34:40 AM »
There are also some styles and subcategories that are pettty tight on the ingredients if you want to have a high score.  A Bohemian Pilsener will not do well unless you have Saaz hops as the signature flavor and aroma.  I have found that Bo-Pils is  very much about fressness of specific ingredients, the right water, and proper technique in the brewing and fermentation.

« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 10:48:08 AM by hopfenundmalz »
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline gmac

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2108
  • London, Ontario
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2012, 10:42:51 AM »
So what you're all telling me is that you CAN taste the love.
Thanks.

Offline morticaixavier

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7103
  • Davis, CA
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2012, 11:05:32 AM »
So what you're all telling me is that you CAN taste the love.
Thanks.

+1,000,000,000,000!!!!

I have a theory (hypothesis actually) that I will probably never be able to test. It goes like this

take a recipe (beer or food) work it out so that you can pretty much duplicate it every time and take any and all notes needed so that another person could also duplicate it.

now program a computer/robot to accomplish exactly the same thing, following all the same steps exactly.

place the computer head to head with a human brewer who really cares about the final product. compare the products. My hypothesis is that there will be a (subjected, sensory) difference between the two products.

i.e. I think you would be able to taste the love.  ;D

Offline dak0415

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 536
  • Winston-Salem, NC
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2012, 11:16:19 AM »
So what you're all telling me is that you CAN taste the love.
Thanks.
Or the flavor contribution of a 15 year old  BLUE cooler ;D
Dave Koenig
Anything worth doing - is worth overdoing!

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 13290
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2012, 11:23:07 AM »
So what you're all telling me is that you CAN taste the love.
Thanks.
Or the flavor contribution of a 15 year old  BLUE cooler ;D

ESPECIALLY THAT!
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Online hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 5669
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2012, 11:52:56 AM »
So what you're all telling me is that you CAN taste the love.
Thanks.

Our club did an activity that really reinforced this, at least to me.  Ingredients were bought in bulk and weighed out at a club meeting to make a beer.  The variables were the water, and the brewers equipement and technique.  The beers were then judged.  Would you think that there was almost a 20 point high from low to high?  There was.  Same recipe, ingredients were the same.
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline euge

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 7396
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2012, 12:09:08 PM »
Hell I've wondered if people have ever bought a commercial craft brew, removed the label and replaced the cap and presented it as their own to a competition. That would be low... But funny if it scored poorly! ;D

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

Online hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 5669
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2012, 12:29:33 PM »
Hell I've wondered if people have ever bought a commercial craft brew, removed the label and replaced the cap and presented it as their own to a competition. That would be low... But funny if it scored poorly! ;D

I have heard a story of such, and the guy was indignant when the beers did not win.  Tried to embarass the organizers with this fact, and got banned for life from the competition. 
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline euge

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 7396
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2012, 12:36:25 PM »
Hell I've wondered if people have ever bought a commercial craft brew, removed the label and replaced the cap and presented it as their own to a competition. That would be low... But funny if it scored poorly! ;D

I have heard a story of such, and the guy was indignant when the beers did not win.  Tried to embarass the organizers with this fact, and got banned for life from the competition. 

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

Offline bluesman

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8808
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2012, 12:42:53 PM »
So what you're all telling me is that you CAN taste the love.
Thanks.

I think you should put that phrase in your sig....:)
Ron Price

Offline morticaixavier

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7103
  • Davis, CA
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2012, 01:07:27 PM »
Hell I've wondered if people have ever bought a commercial craft brew, removed the label and replaced the cap and presented it as their own to a competition. That would be low... But funny if it scored poorly! ;D



i've been enjoying the celis white from michegan brewing and they actually cap with plain caps. all you would have to do is remove the label. but yes, very low. despicable even

Offline richardt

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1227
    • View Profile
Re: Recipe similarity in competition
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2012, 01:29:23 PM »

Water is the 4th ingredient most people often overlook in their recipes, yet, IMO, plays a huge role in the outcome.
This is the big one that I think causes considerable variability even on group brew projects (same supplies and recipes).
Fresh ingredients is key, especially with hops and yeast.  Grain keeps awhile, if stored properly (uncrushed).

Other possibilities include:
Mash temps/pH -- are you able to hit temps (properly calibrated thermometers?)
Yeast health (do a starter)
Fermentation temps (get a fridge and a ranco controller--"for a 44 [beer score], ferment [ale] at 64, you must"--Yoda)
Sanitization (clean your equipement, sanitize with more than one product periodically to eliminate the "house strains").
Process (replace your plastic stuff and tubing periodically).