Great Lakes Brewing News August/September 2015 : Page 4

4 Great Lakes Brewing News • August/September 2015 Beer judging is fun. There’s beer, plenty of great people, and some good, old-fashioned competition. If you’ve ever considered being part of homebrew competitions, through entries of your own or judging, or you are just curious, we have a journey to take you on with our feature from newly minted amateur judge Meagan Wilson. Take a moment and go along. Then head out to Wisconsin, where Madison continues to be one of the great mid-western beer cites, producing plenty of breweries, beer bars and beer—like two year old Next Door Brewing Company. You’ll see why we recommend that you stop by while you are in town. Add it to your list and plan an extra day or two in the area, because the opportunity to take a “beercation” in Madison is not to be missed. In fact, the next few months are peak season for events and brewfests large and small throughout the Great Lakes states. We recommend looking over your regional news in these pages to see what’s going on near you. And to see what’s brewing. It’s our pleasure to tell you about the many seasonal beers hitting the taps and shelves in the coming weeks, from beer made with fresh fruit or freshly harvested spices, to wet hop beers, pumpkin beers and the many maltier styles that celebrate the cooler weather so well. As summer turns to fall, it seems craft brewers are making new beers faster than you can drink them—though it is laudable to try. Cheers! Judge continued from cover stewarding duties—the most usual track for those who are new to competitions, as it requires little prior knowledge and can be a great learning opportunity. But instead, to their surprise, they wound up working beside more experienced judges to evaluate and score the contest entries. Aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression—these are the five descriptive sections on a BJCP score sheet. Each beer is evaluated according to the appropriate entry in the BJCP Style Guide, and assigned a score for the five attributes mentioned above. Then the five scores are tal-lied to reach a single number, usually between thirteen and fifty. If the idea of evaluating and scoring someone else’s homebrew seems intimidat-ing, you’re hardly alone. BJCP judge Thomas Ocque, who organized the UNYHA competi-tion this year, explained that as a novice judge, “I too was very reluctant to judge and provide written feedback to some stranger… [but] I have to tell you that…[it] really helped me understand the sensory experiences of beer further.” Ocque likened judging beer to buying a used sports car: First, you would inspect the car for any obvious scratches, dents or dulling paint. Next, you would look inside the car and smell it. Did someone spill coffee all over the seat? Maybe there is a sour odor from some-one leaving an old forgotten lunch… Lastly, let's see how this car does with a quick drive. Does it sound good when running, any vibra-tions, odd noises or handling issues? You see, one does not need to be a mechanic to fully understand and pick out flaws in a used sports car. Benjamin Wilson judges beer at the UNYHA competition. P HOTO BY M EAGAN W ILSON areas that could use improvement. And that is precisely what the entrants in homebrew competitions want. Well, yes, they generally hope their entries will win ribbons, but from a craft standpoint, the constructive criticism is far more valuable. Homebrewers go to a great deal of effort, and pay good money (for the UNYHA competition it was $7 for each 2-bottle entry) to get responses from judges that will help them to brew better. As Ocque pointed out, “There is not a perfect beer any-where. Providing feedback is what judging is all about.” Get With the Program How it’s Done For some, giving a written description of their “sensory experience” is the most daunt-ing aspect of judging. For others, assigning numerical scores is more challenging. The key is to do your best, but also to relax and have fun with it. “Filling out the sheets seems like a lot, but by your second flight you really start to get into the swing of it,” says judge Benjamin Wilson, describing his first judging experience at the UNYHA competition, The very word “judging” carries nega-tive or intimidating connotations for many people; it might seem harsh or rude to drink a beer with the specific intent of finding all its flaws. But that’s not quite how it is. BJCP judges do note flaws, but they also pay atten-tion to the things that are right, as well as the Founded in 1985, and later incorporated in New York state, the Beer Judging Certificate Program is an international organization that certifies and ranks judges for beer, cider and mead “through an examination and monitoring process, sanction competitions, and provide[s] educational resources for current and future judges” (bjcp.org). You can become a member by passing the two-part BJCP Exam: an online knowledge test, and a tasting exam. However, becoming an official, ranked BJCP judge is not a prerequisite to judge at homebrewing com-petitions. As Ocque commented, “Taking the BJCP test is good to help understand beer bet-ter, but it is not the end all for being a judge. I judged for at least five years before I took the test.” The Love of Beer In some settings, newcomers are treated with impatience, or even disdain. Not so in the beer community. Whether they’ve been brewing for thirty years, or are just discover-ing craft brews, most beer aficionados are extremely friendly and welcoming; they want to share their love of beer. If possible, this is even truer of those involved in homebrew competitions. When asked about his experi-See Judge continued p.6

From The Editor

Mark Garland

Beer judging is fun. There’s beer, plenty of great people, and some good, old-fashioned competition. If you’ve ever considered being part of homebrew competitions, through entries of your own or judging, or you are just curious, we have a journey to take you on with our feature from newly minted amateur judge Meagan Wilson. Take a moment and go along.

Then head out to Wisconsin, where Madison continues to be one of the great mid-western beer cites, producing plenty of breweries, beer bars and beer—like two year old Next Door Brewing Company. You’ll see why we recommend that you stop by while you are in town. Add it to your list and plan an extra day or two in the area, because the opportunity to take a “beercation” in Madison is not to be missed.

In fact, the next few months are peak season for events and brewfests large and small throughout the Great Lakes states. We recommend looking over your regional news in these pages to see what’s going on near you. And to see what’s brewing. It’s our pleasure to tell you about the many seasonal beers hitting the taps and shelves in the coming weeks, from beer made with fresh fruit or freshly harvested spices, to wet hop beers, pumpkin beers and the many maltier styles that celebrate the cooler weather so well. As summer turns to fall, it seems craft brewers are making new beers faster than you can drink them—though it is laudable to try. Cheers!

Read the full article at http://archive.brewingnews.com/article/From+The+Editor/2240378/268451/article.html.

Southern Tier Brewing Company

Using a screen reader? Click Here