Author Topic: Style Guidelines and Judging  (Read 7836 times)

Offline Alewyfe

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Style Guidelines and Judging
« on: August 25, 2012, 07:17:49 PM »
OK...so I'm going through Zmag and looking for some recipe ideas to put my own spin on for the next brew session. I'm looking at the Cat. 10 winner, an American Amber. Based on the recipe submitted, this one is certainly pretty far outside the style guidelines for an Amber. 66 IBU's and nearly 7%ABV. That looks a lot more like an IPA to me.

I like to push the style guidelines to make my beer stand out a bit for competitions, but I'm always being dinged about stuff being a bit high alcohol for style.

Any thoughts on this from the judges out there? Just kind of surprised me that it would go gold at national level being that far out of style.
Diane
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Offline rbclay

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2012, 07:59:25 PM »
to put it bluntly, we ain't drinkin' numbers!

drinking, and judging for that matter, is about one person's perception of a given beverage in their glass. a beer in a competition does need to fit general style parameters, but winning beers often push those parameters.

and who knows if that is the real recipe?!?

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Offline Alewyfe

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2012, 09:31:30 PM »
to put it bluntly, we ain't drinkin' numbers!

drinking, and judging for that matter, is about one person's perception of a given beverage in their glass. a beer in a competition does need to fit general style parameters, but winning beers often push those parameters.

and who knows if that is the real recipe?!?


Thanks for your comments. Not looking to nit pick, just to get educated.  I'm interested in how important adherence to style actually is in competition.
My question is about "Competition" only....when drinking or brewing for one's own enjoyment, I agree, who cares. Make it as you like to drink it.
Diane
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Offline smkranz

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2012, 09:48:03 PM »
To the extent judges can tell a beer is out of style, they will call it out, and score it accordingly.  I've done it, and had it done to me.

But judges do not have recipe information on an entry when judging a beer.  Alcohol level can be one of the more difficult things to discern, unless it's really obvious.  So something that stands out might still score well even if it's out of style on paper.
Steve Kranz
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Online denny

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 08:55:22 AM »
You're not the only one to notice that, Diane.  We've been having a discussion about it here...

http://hbd.org/discus/messages/1/51769.html?1345991630
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Offline Alewyfe

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 09:31:59 AM »
Denny,
Glad to see the topic is being discussed. I have noticed this tendency and am happy when a normally to style beer takes a medal. I've always considered this more a case of ignorance than cheating, but it also seems to be getting more prevalent.  I have a hard time with palate fatigue when tasting and would probably myself take more notice of the big guy in the flight.

Could BJCP put the onus on the entrant by asking for a declaration of abv on the entry form? Not to necessarily catch them, but to give them pause to consider the "style specifics" when entering. It may accomplish nothing, but then it may make them think. I stewarded at second round and have nothing but praise for the judges at my tables. I don't think that any change needs to be made to judging, but adherence to style is a must if there is to be any point in competing.

As Bill Pierce aptly responded..." It's prevalent enough to be a real problem, and it undermines the stated goal of conducting fair and objective competitions."
Diane
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Offline mihalybaci

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2012, 10:02:30 AM »
When I judge I try to keep the style guidelines in mind, but some things are really hard to determine. As mentioned, alcohol can be hard, especially if the brewer  is able to kept it smooth. IBUs can be tough too if they marry well with the malt and give the impression of being smooth. There is certainly some "bigger is better" bias when judging, even when beers are to style, and I'm sure most of us aren't immune to it.

But to your [Alewyfe] point, I noticed that the IPA winner is a "standard" American IPA with over 1 1/2 pounds of hops is to my eyes is definitely imperial IPA territory even if the OG is a bit low. It's just really hard to tell if a beer should have been judged in of out of style without actually tasting it.

Offline billpierce

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2012, 11:45:25 AM »
I'm the one who started the discussion in Denny's link.  The most glaring example to me was this year's gold medal-winning Vienna lager; the stated O.G. in the recipe (1.065) is a full 13 gravity points above the 1.052 maximum in the BJCP guidelines for this style, into the the range for a traditional bock.  I would hope that the judges in the NHC Second Round, presumably an experienced group, would have been able to detect and note this.  To me it undermines the stated goal of fair and objective judging of competition entries with others of a given style.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 11:47:34 AM by billpierce »

Offline aa7yy

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2012, 12:34:24 PM »
I'll start off by saying that I am probably not qualified to speak on this topic. I am a new brewer, but I did steward in the NHC and have been a steward in two competitions since then. So,, I don't see where the judges have an opportunity to straighten this out unless something is "glaringly" out of bounds. Maybe it can take place before the judges evaluate it. Maybe instead of entering in a category the contestant declares it meets the requirements of a category and/or notes exceptions for the judges. Then later, if busted, forefits ,

Maybe there is a statement for judges of + or- the standards ,,,

Offline dannyjed

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2012, 01:12:38 PM »
Not always the case.  I entered a Foreign Export Stout in the NHC and the local fair that was close to 9% abv.  In both comps, the judges knocked it for being too high in alcohol.
Dan Chisholm

Offline aa7yy

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2012, 01:16:02 PM »
Not always the case.  I entered a Foreign Export Stout in the NHC and the local fair that was close to 9% abv.  In both comps, the judges knocked it for being too high in alcohol.

I was the steward for the Stouts at NHC. I was pretty impressed by those guys. But, I am easily impressed.

Offline jeffy

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2012, 01:58:04 PM »
The thing is these beers have to go through a first round by at least two judges and be in the top three of who knows how many, then be judged by three more judges, one of whom is probably master, get pushed to the mini best of show, then picked as the winner, probably by more than one master.  I would say that that beer was markedly better than the others and probably hid the alcohol flavor/heat very well.
The question is should the entrant be allowed to fool the judges, not are the judges qualified.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2012, 02:18:34 PM »
The thing is these beers have to go through a first round by at least two judges and be in the top three of who knows how many, then be judged by three more judges, one of whom is probably master, get pushed to the mini best of show, then picked as the winner, probably by more than one master. 

Unfortunately, that is less and less likely at our comps.  I'm still depressed with the lack of highly experienced judges at this important contest.  Its tough to get those judges to show up and I don't blame them.
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2012, 02:28:14 PM »
A lot of brewers don't understand styles well,  especially with regard to strengths of components.
Two experiments,
 1: have someone blind judge a fresh SNPA.
 2: have them describe an O'fest


Very common, the SNPA will score well below the mid 40's it should score, and the common description of the O'fest will be either a bock or a dopple bock
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2012, 03:29:21 PM »
But to your [Alewyfe] point, I noticed that the IPA winner is a "standard" American IPA with over 1 1/2 pounds of hops is to my eyes is definitely imperial IPA territory even if the OG is a bit low. It's just really hard to tell if a beer should have been judged in of out of style without actually tasting it.

He is from San Diego, where APAs are hopped like IPAs and IPAs are hopped like IIPAs.

Many commercial beers have been getting bigger and bolder. Maybe this is just a response to make something like they can buy?
Jeff Rankert
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