...it doesn't really matter to me if they can't phrase why it's not a great bottle,
Yeah, someone thought my American Barleywine was too hoppy! Yeah, you get some boneheaded comments from judges. I've had judges tasting the same beer say it was "bone dry" and "cloyingly sweet". But if they both give it a 30 it doesn't really matter to me if they can't phrase why it's not a great bottle, it's not going to advance.
And a beginner judge recommended that I thin my RIS with water!
My ginger ale was last in our homebrew club competition in February, but it was touch and go for first or second in the NHC 1st round.
But that's the whole point to me. If there are objective reasons that my beer didn't win I want to know what they are, that's why I entered the contest in the first place. I have so many score sheets that do a great job of providing a sensory evaluation of my beer but fail to make a single comment on how it deviated from the judges ideal for the style. I appreciate the you gave my beer a 36 but what I really want to know is where did I lose 14 points?
For example, I recently entered an Irish Red Ale. The BJCP gives this description for aroma:
Aroma: Low to medium malty sweetness, sometimes accentuated by low to moderate kettle caramelization. Some examples have a low hop aroma, light fruitiness, low diacetyl, and/or a low to moderate peaty aroma (all are optional). The peaty aroma is sometimes perceived as earthy, smoky or very lightly roasted.
Here are one of the judge's notes:
Aroma: Malty up front with a toast note and very light roast, no hops or esters which is OK for the style.
...and he gave the beer 8 of 12 points. Where did this beer lose 4 points? Why did this beer only reach 66% of your ideal for this category? The judges notes don't seem to vary from the guideline yet 8% of the total score was lost in this area.
I really appreciate that the judges are doing a great job of tasting the beers. Their ability to taste and describe the beers is more nuanced and accurate than ever, but there are few if any comments that I can use to improve the beers.
So judges, please feel free to give me your constructive negative criticism. I know I'm doing a competent job of brewing to the style, I need to know exactly what your looking for in this style that you didn't get from my beer.