Friday, March 5, 2010

Competition Update

I just received my score sheets from the contest I entered a couple weeks back. I knew that I had earned a silver medal for my Belgian Dark Strong that was originally a Belgian Style Barley Wine (think Dark strong with lots of Marris Otter).

The first scores I looked at were my 100% Brett and Amarillo beer in 16e (Belgian Specialty). Average score 24.5 this was disapointing as I felt is one of the better beers I have made. I think the judges were confused by this beer. With comments like "Acidic and Brett character dominates. moderately high hop bitterness w/out much hop flavor. Low malt flavor, Very Dry Finish" then "Sour Finish", "Huge Brett Character is overwhelming", "Could not detect Amarillo hops, one dimensional". They say that no base style was given. This is an experimental/specialty beer. I did not really build a beer to any style but I wanted to showcase the 100% Brett ferment characteristics, and have the hops (said to give apricot like flavor) compliment the tropical fruit flavors of a 100% brett c fermentation. I feel I did a great job at this and many others have agreed. It is a wild ale, so what category do I enter this is? Ideas anyone?

My Golden Strong earned the next lowest average score with a 24.5 as well. The main complaints with this one is too many hot alcohols, and too sweet/underattenuated. I agree with the comments but feel the beer is good. I want to brew this beer again but really focus on low initial fermentation temps and then bump it up to finish the beer off.

Next up was my (Belgian Blond with Lemon Zest and Lavender). I expected this beer to not do very well because I think the lavender is a bit overpowering, but it is a crowd pleaser. The beer scored a 33 ave. with a 36, 34, and a 29! Really? With the other two scores being in the mid 30's. The judge who gave it a 29 also complained that the beer has diacetyl and grassy aromas. He even suggested that I do a diacetyl rest on a Belgian Blond Ale, really? Other than that the main complaint was that the lavender was a little overpowering. I am kinda bummed on this one because the min. score for the top three was a 33.5.

Finally my Belgian Dark Strong scored an ave. of 35. It scored a 37 and a 33. Overall, comments were great complex malt bill, but lacked a the typical strong Belgian Phenolics, also low carbonation levels detract from the beer overall. The one judge asked for the recipe. As I mentioned earlier I made this style as a Belgian Barley Wine based on a English Barley Wine and Belgian Dark Strong, but at 18+ months the hops have faded and the has become much more Dark Strong.

So in conclusion I feel that the scores were pretty fair except the 100% Brett beer. BJCP needs to figure out how to address the issue of wild ales. For my lavender and lemon blond the 29 with the 36 and 34 really seemed out of place. I don't really brew for competition so considering that none of my beers were brewed into specific guidelines I am really happy. It is good to get impartial feedback as well. I may even enter the two high scoring beers into the NHC and I will be entering them into the San Diego County Fair.


  1. Congrats on the win though! One out of four placed? That seems pretty good to me.

    I suppose I would be frustrated with the negative feedback that was completely opposite of what you were trying to achieve. I'm not 100% familiar with entering brews into competition, but in the spot where you give a similar beer can you write in anything other than a beer or can you get thrown out for that?

    I would definitely send the winner onto the NHC. Deadline is coming up quick though. I look forward to hearing if you ended up doing that or not.

    Good work and keep up the "Award Winning" brews!

    Mike's Brew Review

  2. Thanks Mike! I am planning on entering that beer as well as the 100% Brett Beer and the Lemon and Lavender beer. This time though I will be entering the 100% brett beer into the general specialty category, not the Belgian Specialty. The Lemon Lavender beer will be entered except this time I will make sure I specify the base beer. My buddy judged the category and said the beer was very good and made the mini best of round but since it didn't specify the base beer they had nothing to compare it to.