Author Topic: Brewing 'to the comp'  (Read 2043 times)

Offline richardt

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2012, 06:03:01 PM »
Not surprised at all by your experience.
The bigger beers usually win the category.  I think it reflects lack of sophistication by some judges.  I like to stick up for the little beer within the category, especially if it is an excellent example of the sub-style.  However, the majority of judges seem too easily swayed by the bigger beers with more of everything.
It sometimes is perceived by judges that a stronger beer has been entered within a weaker subcategory within the style (e.g. a 80/- as a 60/-; or a beer that overshot its OG but is still entered as a weaker substyle.  The judges have no way of knowing the truth, so we have to assume the beer truly is a 60/- even though we suspect it is an 80/-.

Offline markaberrant

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2012, 11:51:02 AM »
I think a few unmarked "classic style" test beers should be placed in every comp, just to see how well the judges are doing. The results of those beers should be given to every participant as a basis for how their beers were judged. If a judge consistently gives those classic styles low scores, then he/she should be moved to a different style or asked not to judge for a while.

As mentioned earlier, how do you account for the fact that not every bottle of a classic example is in tip top shape?

Offline narvin

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2012, 12:06:58 PM »
I agree, but given palate fatigue, beer staling, and other issues, is not always due to naive judges who think bigger is better.  But I think it often is.  I will say that my doppelbock was technically my best beer out of the three I submitted, yet it got the worst score.  Why?  It was on the low end of the ABV range, yet it was almost identical to Celebrator in terms of OG/FG stats.  Biggest complaint was lack of alcohol warming.  Really?  I think most judges would prefer an alcoholic bock versus one that showed complexity in malty body, and this is a problem.
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2012, 12:55:41 PM »
I agree, but given palate fatigue, beer staling, and other issues, is not always due to naive judges who think bigger is better.  But I think it often is.  I will say that my doppelbock was technically my best beer out of the three I submitted, yet it got the worst score.  Why?  It was on the low end of the ABV range, yet it was almost identical to Celebrator in terms of OG/FG stats.  Biggest complaint was lack of alcohol warming.  Really?  I think most judges would prefer an alcoholic bock versus one that showed complexity in malty body, and this is a problem.

that's funny cause my lowest score was for the barrel aged barley wine because it was too boozy.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2012, 01:05:36 PM »
Not surprised at all by your experience.
The bigger beers usually win the category.  I think it reflects lack of sophistication by some judges.  I like to stick up for the little beer within the category, especially if it is an excellent example of the sub-style.  However, the majority of judges seem too easily swayed by the bigger beers with more of everything.
It sometimes is perceived by judges that a stronger beer has been entered within a weaker subcategory within the style (e.g. a 80/- as a 60/-; or a beer that overshot its OG but is still entered as a weaker substyle.  The judges have no way of knowing the truth, so we have to assume the beer truly is a 60/- even though we suspect it is an 80/-.

Ive actually thought about doing this with an AIPA.

Its a goal of mine to win in the IPA category with an AIPA - its always very popular and a style that many seasoned brewers have great recipes for. I assume its also heavliy swayed by palate fatigue and over-the top bitterness.

I thought my best bet was to push the ABV past the style guidelines, almost to an IIPA, but keep it fairly dry with some sucrose. Condition if needed to remove over the top alcohol warmth, then dry-hop the hell out of it.

Is this 'cheating'?
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2012, 01:07:06 PM »
I agree, but given palate fatigue, beer staling, and other issues, is not always due to naive judges who think bigger is better.  But I think it often is.  I will say that my doppelbock was technically my best beer out of the three I submitted, yet it got the worst score.  Why?  It was on the low end of the ABV range, yet it was almost identical to Celebrator in terms of OG/FG stats.  Biggest complaint was lack of alcohol warming.  Really?  I think most judges would prefer an alcoholic bock versus one that showed complexity in malty body, and this is a problem.

I had the exact same experience with my English BarleyWine. Said it wasnt strong enough to be a barleywine yet it was 1.086 OG and 1.017 FG but was otherwise a great beer yet it scored very low for being out of style.
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2012, 02:38:34 PM »
Its a goal of mine to win in the IPA category with an AIPA - its always very popular and a style that many seasoned brewers have great recipes for. I assume its also heavliy swayed by palate fatigue and over-the top bitterness.

I thought my best bet was to push the ABV past the style guidelines, almost to an IIPA, but keep it fairly dry with some sucrose. Condition if needed to remove over the top alcohol warmth, then dry-hop the hell out of it.

Is this 'cheating'?

ahh the million dollar question. I wonder the same thing. obviously there is nothing to stop you from doing this, just as there is nothing to stop me from entering the 80/- I just brewed as a 60/- except ethics. it's frustrating therefore that I might never be able to win with an actual 60/- without 'cheating' in this way.

So, to recap, we have 1 strategy for doing better in comps;
  1) brewing to the top end of the style guidlines or beyond and more so brewing to the top end of the whole category and ignoring the lower gravity sub categories.

what else ya got?

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Offline weithman5

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2012, 03:32:31 PM »
why i struggle with brewing to style
i think of the style guidelines as well, guidelines.  such that my current dark beer that is lagering is my take on a cross between a dunkel and a schwarzbeir.  would love to get honest assessments on what people think of it.  flavors, colors, aromas, and faulty flavors etc.  but not necessarily that it didn't seem to hit a mark compared to something else.
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Offline narvin

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2012, 04:06:29 PM »
There's no such thing as cheating, unless you didn't brew the beer  :)

If you think you know what your target audience wants, why not cater to it?  Just remember that all judges are different, and you are no way guaranteed to win with a "bigger is better" approach.  Especially in the second round, where you might get more seasoned judges.
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Offline paul

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2012, 09:46:50 PM »
I agree that the "bigger is better" method of judging is common and problematic.  I brewed a mild at the top end of the gravity ranges and with a significant quantity of flavor hops, yet it was deemed "not malty or hoppy enough."  I also had my APA called "malt forward with minimal hop flavor" when it had over five ounces of American variety hops added after 30 minutes and minimal character malts (5-gallon batch).  I just attribute this to palate fatigue from judging too many over-the-top beers, and maybe judges who forget they're supposed to consider the style, not just their preferences for stronger flavors.

The good news is that sometimes the smaller beer wins.  I judged at this year's Indian Peak Alers Competition.  My table judged light lagers, including American standard lagers up to Bohemian Pils.  There wasn't really a bad beer in our flight, and yet the winner at our table was an American standard lager.  Even better, this beer went on to win best of show.  So it just goes to show an over the top beer won't always come out on top.

Offline thetooth

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2012, 09:44:13 AM »
I also entered an all ivanhoe hop rye IPA and got decent scores (low 30's) and both judges were very up front about the fact that while the beer was technically very good, no off flavours or other faults, they did not score it as highly as they might have because they didn't care for the particular character of that hop. This is fine, it was cat 23 so I suspect subjective measures make a huge difference there. but in a more specific category, cat 9 for instance, it seems like there should be a lot less room for that and blind tasting the commercial examples would provide some measure of that bias.

I find the "judge doesn't prefer that type of hop" result annoying.  i had my blond ale dinged because the judges didn't like the hop selection.  The comments specifically told me to try a different hop next time.  I could understand if I was using an English hop in an American style or something, but that wasn't the case.  The judge just seemed to not like it.  That kind of feedback does me no good since others like the flavor, including the judges that gave it a gold medal at another comp I sent it to.  LOL

Offline bo

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Re: Brewing 'to the comp'
« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2012, 09:59:35 AM »
I also entered an all ivanhoe hop rye IPA and got decent scores (low 30's) and both judges were very up front about the fact that while the beer was technically very good, no off flavours or other faults, they did not score it as highly as they might have because they didn't care for the particular character of that hop. This is fine, it was cat 23 so I suspect subjective measures make a huge difference there. but in a more specific category, cat 9 for instance, it seems like there should be a lot less room for that and blind tasting the commercial examples would provide some measure of that bias.

I find the "judge doesn't prefer that type of hop" result annoying.  i had my blond ale dinged because the judges didn't like the hop selection.  The comments specifically told me to try a different hop next time.  I could understand if I was using an English hop in an American style or something, but that wasn't the case.  The judge just seemed to not like it.  That kind of feedback does me no good since others like the flavor, including the judges that gave it a gold medal at another comp I sent it to.  LOL
\

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