Saturday, January 19, 2013

AHA Club Only Competition: Un-Session Beer Judging

This was one of the American Homebrew Association’s Club Only Competitions, and the theme was Un-Session Beers. While I’m not quite sure what that means, I’m always happy to help out Frank Barickman when he needs extra judges. The competition was held at Barley Hopsters in Delaware, Ohio, and I judged a flight of Belgian beers (Category 16, mainly Belgian Specialty Ales, and one lone Pilsener) with Jeff Lewis from SODZ. We had a pleasant time, and got yelled at Frank for judging too slow.
Winning beer in our flight was a Saison aged for six months on chardonnay-soaked oak; it was a delicous beer with a lot of intangibles that made the beer stand out—the oak and white wine characteristics were subtle and well-balanced, and the Belgian yeast character brought the beer together nicely. I might have liked a bit more attenuation in the body, but still a solid beer. I’a picky bastard when it comes to saisons. There were several other well-made beers in the flight; two, however, took themselves of competition by entering themselves as 16E. but providing no actual information as to what they were. Gordon said it was appropriate and acceptable to make fun of them in the Overall Impression section of the scoresheet, which I appreciated. Afterall, to quote the BJCP Style Guidelines for 16E. Belgian Specialty Ale, The judges must understand the brewer’s intent in order to properly judge an entry in this category. THE BREWER MUST SPECIFY EITHER THE BEER BEING CLONED, THE NEW STYLE BEING PRODUCED OR THE SPECIAL INGREDIENTS OR PROCESSES USED(23). The key word here being understand: if you don’t understand intention, it is impossible to judge in any practical manner. I do like the all-caps yelling in the second sentence—which is the way it appears in the style guidelines—as it mirrors my feelings everytime I judge this category and people enter beers without any type of description or information to identify the beer (my favorite 16E. entry of all time: the entire description of the beer was orange.No style descriptions or any of the other potential details, just orange”).
After we finished judging and the BOS was completed (results are posted here), we all sampled some of the beers available at Barley Hopsters, both on tap and cold out of the case. A nice time, and I do hope to have a reason to return.


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