Well, it finally happened. Yesterday was the road trip to Hanford for the big test. I was nervous for oh about 9 months leading up to it. James, who by the way is one of the kindest people you'll ever meet, put on a great exam experience. I had long lost in laws waiting at home so I couldn't stick around to hear what the proctors thought of the beers. James peeked at my scores and mentioned the 39 I gave the Belgian Blond was going to be out of wack, but I got it right because it was a freshy sample of Leffe. I initially gave it a 42 but panicked and lowered it.
The line up, if I recall correctly, was Schwartz - Helles - Belgian Blond - APA - Weizenbock - RIS. A challenge for sure. I've had world class commercial examples of two of the six. So for me it was all about describing, trying to get some flow/balance comments in there, one or two reminds me of comments, a style comment here and there, and each one got at least one or two suggestions.
I don't know for sure if I was right, but the Schwartz seemed too ale-like to me. More of a robust porter than Schwartz. The Helles seemed like a hazy light struck cream ale. The blond was awesome obviously, but I dinged it slightly for having strong esters that made it too spicy. (I guess the proctors called it out of style for adding spices) The APA was great but could use a bit more complexity. The Weizenbock had some fusel alcohol. The RIS was tasty but starting to show its age, I got some soy in the finish. It took me the full time allowed for each beer, but I did complete all of them.
Now for the 3 month pins and needles waiting to see how I did. Frankly, I wont be surprised by anything. Maybe I failed, maybe I did well. I know it wasn't a Master level though. Couldnt have been.