oh, and I don't have a beer with lunch
This just keeps getting worse!
Actually, do any of you find yourself catching a buzz when judging? Should I be wary of that? I'm no lightweight but some of these styles can be pretty strong.
As for classic examples, we don't know which styles within a category we're getting so I'd be trying several beers from each category. I've done quite a bit of homework in the past though. I'll probably just go with the style descriptions and trust my tastebuds in the end. There aren't many beer styles I don't like, and I appreciate them all.
don't sweat it. in fact, most times the comp provides lunch for the judges/stewards which often includes a beer. when you're judging, you really don't need to drink very much of each sample. an ounce or less is usually enough - though some beers you'll sample more if really searching for something, discussing with co-judge, etc.
let's say you judge two flights in the morning. each flight is usually 10 beers or less (though not always). if you drink an ounce or less per beer evaluated, then you've consumed less than two beers over the course of the morning. You may judge more flights in that time, but if so, usually there are less beers per flight. ditto for the afternoon. so can you 'catch a buzz?' sure, it's beer after all, but you're not going to get sloshed.
though I do remember judging at a NHC where a judge at a neighboring table kept drinking his sample and asking the steward to repour... again, and again. I was told he was a local club member, not an experienced judge - and (thank the beer gods) this is very unusual.
as for the classic examples, many competitions don't use calibration beers. if they do, it's just one. just judge each beer against the style guidelines and you'll be fine.