I received my results for the NHC first round on Thursday. I had never entered this contest before, but with a 2nd place finish in preliminary contest (America's Finest City) in February, I thought what the heck. I entered three beers; the 2nd place finisher a Dark Strong, Meyer Lemon and Lavender Blond, and my 100% Brett c. and 100% amarillo Belgian Pale.
For more info on my predictions for the beers going into the contest check out this earlier post
Unfortunately, my computer crashed earlier this year and I lost the recipes for all three beers, if any one wants more info let me know and will put together a recipe from memory.
Here we go:
Belgian Dark Strong: Category 18e. Overall Score 30.5 (29, 32). It scored a 35 in earlier contest. I originally brewed this as a Belgian BarleyWine, but after 18 months the hops have faded. The beer used a base malt of Marris Otter and the traditional Dark Strong grains. I think it mainly got marked down for the lack of esters. I really liked the marris otter as the base for this style, and the judges all said the malt was a highlight.
Meyer Lemon and Lavender Blond: Category 21a. Overall Score 28 (29, 27). Scored a 33 in earlier contest. Neva Parker of White Labs was one of the judges so I know I received some quality feedback. I didn't have too much hope for this beer but I thought if I specified the base style (forgot to do this in earlier comp) I would have done better. It is a good beer, and everyone who tries it really like it, but the lemon and lavender are a little too strong for the base style. I will brew this beer again because on a warm spring/summer evening it is very refreshing. As Ms. Parker said "just a few adjustments and this would be a fantastic summer refresher. The Champagne of beers-yum"
100% Brett c. and 100% Amarillo Belgian Pale: 2nd Place Category 23a. Overall Score 40 (40, 40). Scored a 24.5 in earlier comp in Category 16e. I was really disappointed in the earlier comp. I thought the style is very Belgian-like, but after talking to a friend who is a BJCP judge he advised me to switch to specialty beer. Good call Andy! The beer has been a big hit among other homebrewers who know funky wild beers and I feel this is the best beer I have ever brewed. So earning this score and moving on to Nationals is a great feeling. I got some advice from Sean Paxton The Home Brew Chef on this beer, so thanks Sean. I hope the beer does well, but I think the next level is gonna be tough. I will brew this again soon with Brett c. and Nelson Sauvin Hops. So look for a post in the next few weeks, I just have to source the hops.
On a separate, but related rant, I really think BJCP needs to update the guidelines to include wild, funky and non-traditional sours. If a beer can score 24.5 in a Belgian Specialty and 40 in Specialty beer there are some issues in the categories. I think that as the landscape of american home brewing changes the guidelines need to change to reflect that change.
Congrats to all the brewers moving on, especially all those who's blogs I follow, those I get advice from on the Babble Belt and to my own home brew club CHUG. We are a small club, only 15 people and have only been around for about 3 months. But at least 3 of us placed and are moving on to the NHC!