I'm switching from nightshift to day and in a hotel, so can't sleep. Thought I'd share a couple things I learned in my first experience judging.
I was welcomed in to the group and put to work just like I was always supposed to be there. My wife was a steward and had a ball. She felt right at home too. I'm even more appreciative of that. Great people in Seattle!
We used cued judging and the newish checkbox judging sheet. I'll bet some entrants won't be happy with that, thinking it's lazy, but I was quickly glad for it. Especially when we were still judging at 930 Friday night.
I tried to write helpful comments though it wasn't always easy. I found myself thinking that it's unreasonable for brewers to rely too heavily on score sheets to teach them how to brew. Perhaps some value if they are able to interpret and make their own adjustments.
I had little idea of what to expect for quality or scores. After 8 or so Stouts, 10 or so Porters, and a dozen American Ales, (a large enough number to get a feel) I found most were fairly well made. Only three or four had serious issues. None were gag reflex undrinkable. The numbers were what struck me. I didn't keep a tally but most were mid to high 20s. Only about 10% broke the 40 mark. I think our highest was 42. So I now think 35 and up is something to be happy with. I suppose it depends on your level of skill and experience though.
I was very leery that I'd be worth a darn as a judge. But I found that with very few exceptions my initial perception was accurate and my scores were usually within 3-4 points of the experienced/real judges. I'm looking forward to the judging exam now. It will be a reward to sit on a BOS some day.
I need to have a stack of score sheets at home and practice more. I think it's a balance between quality feedback and speed.
I don't know how my own entries did. Having judged now, I think I'll be far less critical of my score sheets than if I didn't know what it was like to sit there and actually do it. Expecting a well written score sheet from a National judge, with multiple brewing tips, is simply unreasonable. If all judges did that, it would be a 3 day event minimum. I don't think I could do it even if you paid me. On that note, I was extremely impressed with the quality of people who volunteer for this job. Kudos!
I'd like to say thanks to everyone who helped make a very fun and educational weekend for both my wife and for me.