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My problem judging first round

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First round always comes in the middle of peak allergy season, and it's the worst time of year for me to be judging. Note that this is not a complaint about when or how the competition is run, it's my personal lament that my tasting skills are at their worst. It bothers me that, in this most prestigious competition, I can't do my best job. I still give it my best effort, but my senses are clearly compromised. In addition, for this competition I don't think many people enter just to get feedback - they enter their best beers looking to place. That means there are a lot of very high quality beers, and I don't get to enjoy them as much as I'd like.  :'( For personal consumption this month I tend to stick with strong flavors that cut through my haze, like an IPA or a Flanders Red.

Oh well, if you want to sneak a diacetyl bomb past me, do it now ;D

Maybe this isn't the place to ask this, but I'm assuming you still feel like you can judge the beers accurately?  I've bowed out of judging when I had a cold because I felt it wouldn't be fair to the entrants.

I'm sure that I'm still fair, and I feel fairly certain that the order I place beers in would not be different compared to other times of the year. Besides, I'm not the only one in this part of the country with this problem. If you eliminated all of the judges having bad sinus issues this time of year, you'd eliminate half the potential pool. I don't know if you've ever lived in the Midwest, but the tree pollen levels in April are astronomical, and the numbers this year are among the highest ever measured. There are areas where the oak pollen gathers in clumps, totally covering the sidewalk an inch or more deep. It looks somewhat similar to high krausen on a dark beer.
Besides, I'm pretty sure at least one of my flights next weekend is IPA. :)

I seem to have hit on a magical OTC one-two punch for mine. I take loretadine (sp) everyday so I have lately added in Sudafed (without the regulated stuff) and it keeps me tame even on the harshest of pollen days. Lucked upon the combo this week when I was down for the count with an allergy migrane on Tuesday. Judged this morning without even a sniffle. Better living through chemicals  ;)

Sudafed puts me to sleep, quick. More effective than any sleeping pill. I'm currently taking Flonase and Zyrtec (and Zyrtec only at bedtime). Before the Flonase, I was hopeless. I had given up on the possibility of taking the BJCP exam, but starting Flonase was a life changing experience. Judging is one thing, but the increase in taste perception was exhilarating. I'm lucky I didn't end up gaining 20 pounds, everything tasted so much better.


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