Author Topic: Style Guidelines and Judging  (Read 7668 times)

Offline bonjour

  • Administrator
  • Senior Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1771
  • Troy, MI, 37mi, 60.9deg AR
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #30 on: August 27, 2012, 09:14:04 AM »
Speaking of judging, I have the BJCP tasting exam in January. Does anyone have a good method for study? Any tips from experience?
Score every beer you can, do NOT use the style guide, limit yourself to 15 minutes, afterward review with the style guide and change anything you wish.

Under each section are items which need to be touched, even if all you can say is I didn't get anything there.
You will be graded on completeness.

Bad beers,  score them hard, no mercy scores (other than the 13 points for having something in the bottle)

You should fill each section.
Fred Bonjour
Co-Chair Mashing in Michigan 2014 AHA Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan
AHA Governing Committee; AHA Conference, Club Support & Web Subcommittees



Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11643
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #31 on: August 27, 2012, 09:28:57 AM »
I found Michael Jackson's "New World Guide to Beer" incredibly helpful in learning how to describe a beer and giving me a vocabulary to use.
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: 8678
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #32 on: August 27, 2012, 09:56:48 AM »
I think there is subjectivity involved with any kind of judging including beer judging. Varying degrees of palate development, palate sensitivity to certain flavors, experience level,  knowledge level and so on that come into play during a competition. It's the nature of the beast, but I also believe that great beers win competitions.  I've witnessed great beers plow right through to the BOS round on many occasions.

To the OP's question:  I think the winning beer probably stood far above in quality as compared to the other beers it was up against in the mini BOS round, eventhough it was more like an IAA.
Ron Price

Offline bonjour

  • Administrator
  • Senior Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 1771
  • Troy, MI, 37mi, 60.9deg AR
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #33 on: August 27, 2012, 10:37:18 AM »
I always make sure a great beer goes on to a mini-BOS no matter what scores are assigned.
The best beers will go through the mini-BOS to the next round
Fred Bonjour
Co-Chair Mashing in Michigan 2014 AHA Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan
AHA Governing Committee; AHA Conference, Club Support & Web Subcommittees



Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline mihalybaci

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 144
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2012, 10:48:59 AM »
Speaking of judging, I have the BJCP tasting exam in January. Does anyone have a good method for study? Any tips from experience?

Practice often, either on homebrews or commercially available beers. If you can, find the listed commerical beers for a sub-style and judge it according to the guidelines. Since its fall, go buy a Spaten Oktoberfest and a Sam Adams Oktoberfest and see where they fall.

Offline davidgzach

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2012, 11:11:54 AM »
Can anyone comment on "Tasting Beer" by Randy Mosher?  I bought it a while back to help me get on track for the exam but have yet to dive in to it.

Dave
Dave Zach

Offline mihalybaci

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 144
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2012, 11:19:32 AM »
It's pretty good. In terms of pure enjoyment I preferred his book "Radical Brewing", but there is some useful information in Tasting Beer. Some of it can be found in the BJCP documentation (taste in a room free of distractions, smells, etc.). I think that the book made me want to think more about what I'm drinking, but it's not going to help any one score National on the exam. Stick with the BJCP documents and good old practice for that.

Offline ynotbrusum

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1000
  • Da mihi sis cerevisiam.
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2012, 03:21:38 PM »
FWIW - I like the idea of pushing guidelines a little from time to time.  But, sometimes it happens accidentally - I just had a British Mild sneak beyond its intended ABV, because I mashed a little cooler than expected (that's on me) and the yeast (S-04) just munched their way down a couple points lower than I expected as a result of the higher fermentability.  That would simply cause it to go up to 8B, technically, but I was trying to brew an 8A.  Just over the cusp, I would think I would rightly enter it as an 8B and try to get my mash temp better controlled next time to stick with an 8A that turns out to be to style.

Isn't some of this on the brewers?  Don't enter a beer in a style category that you can objectively calculate to be out of style? 
Hodge Garage Brewing: "Brew with a glad heart!"

Offline udubdawg

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 539
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #38 on: August 27, 2012, 03:42:24 PM »
FWIW - I like the idea of pushing guidelines a little from time to time.  But, sometimes it happens accidentally - I just had a British Mild sneak beyond its intended ABV, because I mashed a little cooler than expected (that's on me) and the yeast (S-04) just munched their way down a couple points lower than I expected as a result of the higher fermentability.  That would simply cause it to go up to 8B, technically, but I was trying to brew an 8A.  Just over the cusp, I would think I would rightly enter it as an 8B and try to get my mash temp better controlled next time to stick with an 8A that turns out to be to style.

Isn't some of this on the brewers?  Don't enter a beer in a style category that you can objectively calculate to be out of style?

I hear what you're saying, but I put the beer where it comes off impression-wise, not recipe-wise.  I'm a judge, and if I know from tasting it that fellow judges are going to say my best bitter comes across as an 8A, I'm probably not going to put it in 8B.   

cheers--
--Michael

Offline phunhog

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 183
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #39 on: August 27, 2012, 06:32:58 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.

FYI....I believe that is the second year in a row that exact recipe has won Gold in Cat. 10 at the NHC.  It is the West Coast Blaster recipe from BCS. I have brewed it a few times and it is a fantastic beer!! Of course we all know that it isn't the recipe but the brewers skill that makes a great beer ;)

Offline sam-who-is

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #40 on: August 28, 2012, 07:26:31 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.
FYI....I believe that is the second year in a row that exact recipe has won Gold in Cat. 10 at the NHC.  It is the West Coast Blaster recipe from BCS. I have brewed it a few times and it is a fantastic beer!! Of course we all know that it isn't the recipe but the brewers skill that makes a great beer ;)

I think a big problem with BJCP judges is that some get into it to just rip on other peoples beers.  I also think, and people think I am crazy that judging at eight in the morning does not do my palate any justice.  I think when you judge in the AM your palate likes big and sweeter beers.  I have entered the same beer in multiple categories and placed in both of them, i.e. Dortmunder and German Pilsner.  Another concern I have is that a lot of people judging have extremely limited experience with the beers they are judging.  I get judges that will rip on my saisons for being too fruity and having a brettanomyces infection when that is very possible and fitting for the style.  I guess just drinking a few skunked Saison DuPonts does not make you an expert on the style.  As well as the more obscure ones like a pale mild.  I have made one (pale mild), but never drank a commercial example, and I am sure a fresh home brewed example would taste very different from one that has flown across the pond.  So many beer judges are very limited w/ their palates and what they have experienced. 

I personally don't brew beer for competitions anymore.  It is too expensive and frustrating when a competition get overloaded with entries and has to have a lot of novice judges.  I guess that is how the cookie crumbles so I shouldn't b**** too much. 
I have also had problems with judges mistaking certain flavors as just totally off and not to style.  i.e. that pale mild I made I use carastan light malt and every judge automatically ripped on it because they thought it was diacetyl.  I used Wyeast London Ale III, which might have thrown a little diacetyl but that is ok for the style.  The carastan malt lent a toffee flavor but it had none of the buttery slickness associated with diacetyl. 

When I judge I try yo separate myself from the style guidelines and concentrate on the basics of the beer.  I always save a little so I can go back and see if it got better with a little warming.  I think it is hard for a lot of people to discern the alcohol content, especially with a lot of home brewers drinking a lot of DIPAs and high alcohol brews.  I personally prefer lower alcohol brews so I feel like my palate is very in tune with alcohol content.  I think a lot of competitions are really hurting for judges as well, and I speaking form experience, judging a flight of 15 beers just kills you. 

I just wish judges would be more open when evaluating beer they are judging and not just start criticizing them just for the f##k of it.  Maybe accept that even if they are a higher ranked judge that they might not be familiar with a style and be willing to open their palates to something outside of the style guidelines.

BTW - Alewyfe, I think you judged my Imperial Nit Brown in a competition in Salem, OR a few years ago

Offline udubdawg

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 539
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #41 on: August 29, 2012, 05:56:59 AM »
I think a big problem with BJCP judges is that some get into it to just rip on other peoples beers. 

you have a lot of good points but I think your argument loses credibility when you say things like this.  Do you honestly think anyone would spend months studying for an exam they might have had to sign up for more than a year in advancce, write an exam for three hours until their hand was completely cramped, and perhaps spend thousands of dollars a year travelling to competitions just so they can "rip on other people's beers"?

come on...

Offline tomsawyer

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1681
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #42 on: August 29, 2012, 06:39:59 AM »
Honestly its easy to fall into the trap of focusing on being critical, and forget to include whats right about a beer.  Thats generally a sign of inexperience, although there are experienced judges I've worked with who are generally more critical than others.  I can recall a contest where my partner didn't send any of the beers we judged to mini-BOS, I thought that was a little extreme.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline AmandaK

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 930
  • Redbird Brewhouse
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #43 on: August 29, 2012, 10:05:28 AM »
I think a big problem with BJCP judges is that some get into it to just rip on other peoples beers. 

you have a lot of good points but I think your argument loses credibility when you say things like this.  Do you honestly think anyone would spend months studying for an exam they might have had to sign up for more than a year in advancce, write an exam for three hours until their hand was completely cramped, and perhaps spend thousands of dollars a year travelling to competitions just so they can "rip on other people's beers"?

come on...

Seriously. If I wanted to be an a**hole and "rip on other people's beers", I could just go to one of the many local breweries and nit pick.

Would I study for months, drive 500 miles to take the test and travel all over the Midwest (and to Seattle! - 1800 miles away), take DAYS out of my life and wade through drinking tons of beer just so I can be critical of your beer? LOLOLOLOLOL.  :o

I judge beer to hopefully give brewers the feedback they are looking for so they can make their beers better. Simple as that. :D
Amanda Kertz
Kansas City Bier Meister
BJCP National

Offline sam-who-is

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Style Guidelines and Judging
« Reply #44 on: August 29, 2012, 04:45:57 PM »
I think a big problem with BJCP judges is that some get into it to just rip on other peoples beers. 

you have a lot of good points but I think your argument loses credibility when you say things like this.  Do you honestly think anyone would spend months studying for an exam they might have had to sign up for more than a year in advancce, write an exam for three hours until their hand was completely cramped, and perhaps spend thousands of dollars a year travelling to competitions just so they can "rip on other people's beers"?

come on...

Seriously. If I wanted to be an a**hole and "rip on other people's beers", I could just go to one of the many local breweries and nit pick.

Would I study for months, drive 500 miles to take the test and travel all over the Midwest (and to Seattle! - 1800 miles away), take DAYS out of my life and wade through drinking tons of beer just so I can be critical of your beer? LOLOLOLOLOL.  :o

I judge beer to hopefully give brewers the feedback they are looking for so they can make their beers better. Simple as that. :D

Like Tom Sawyer was saying I feel like there are plenty of judges that are too critical when they judge.  I have judged beers that I wanted to score 46 or higher but for some reason I'm not allowed to do this because these beers are not possible.  Every beer judged doesn't always need to be made better, right? 

I just think some people feel entitled to rip on other peoples beers because they took the BJCP exam.  I personally thought all the beers on my tasting portion were no good.  I later found out that most of them were from the now bankrupt Walter Paytons Roundhouse.  So I did not score well because the proctor thought most of these beers were good to excellent. 

I just wish that if there is a good beer it could score higher than a 42.  But it never seems to happen.  I also wish that people would speak up if they are placed in a category they are not familiar with. 

I think overall most competitions do extremely for what they've got.  Also, every bottle is different for homebrewers so sometimes I people can get bent out of shape if you happen to get a bad bottle and then the beer scores well elsewhere