01 September 2007

Time to reap what was sown

Received the score sheets and goods for the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair yesterday. This is the big pay-off, and not always necessarily in terms of physical goods (although those are nice too). The honest, objective feedback from BJCP judges on your brew is invaluable. This is where the wheel meets the road, in my opinion. Often I see posts of brewers on internet forums of "I've done [insert technique---or lack thereof---here] and my beers taste great!" While pride in one's creations is admirable and empathic, it's still subjective. I firmly believe you cannot completely and objectively analyze your own brews. That's where the score sheets come in.

In terms of my own, I received a 41 (out of 50) for my dry stout, 1st in category and an honorable mention in Best of Show. Here are some remarks:
Very nice beer. Could consume vast quantities.

Good coffee flavor with slight hop bitterness. Great balance, no huskiness.

A classic example of style. Very well balanced with only minor flaws. Kudos to the brewer.

Moderate roast with very low roast sharpness. Slight chocolate in middle of palate with some creaminess that smoothes beer tremendously.

For the Second Best of Show Maibock (36 points, 1st in category):
Very close to an excellent Hellesbock. The cloying malt flavor is my only problem. You have a very nice balance, but I've found that the best Maibocks are served fresh but become cloying with age. This could be the issue here. Still, very nicely done beer.

And just to be honest and drive the point home, Oktoberfest (30 points, 2nd in category):
Deep copper, very clear. Pretty good initial carbonation, but very poor head retention.

Recipe is probably ok but you need a cleaner yeast and lower fermentation temperature.

So, feedback, whether shining or shining a light on your shortcomings, is a good thing. It's certainly motivation to do better next time or to try to replicate your results. It's constructive criticism, so if you have a problem with that you're probably not going to do well with competitions or brewing in general.

Man up, put 'em in the box and send 'em on their way! If nothing else, the loot (like a gift certificate to the Flying Barrel) will put some bounce in your step!

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