Sunday, November 4, 2012

Brewing to Style and the 2012 Cincinnati Malt Infusers Homebrew Competition


I love to brew, there is no other way to put it. I also love to brew to style. I think that putting my beer into competitions is a way that I challenge myself to brew to style. There is a lot of negative talk on forums aboot BJCP and how brewing isn't a competition. One recent interaction with an individual happened in a forum, where I was asking aboot new guidelines. I wasn't asking for opinions or anything of the like. A very rad individual, Denny Conn, spoke that I should write to the BJCP forum with this question and I may get some answers. Then that individual that I previously spoke of, decided to input some of his own thoughts, not advise, not facts, but pure opinions. It was voiced thar “My taste-buds are my guidelines. Football, baseball, soccer, etc. are competitions, brewing is a passion.” Yes, this maybe true, but don't be an ass and don't interject things that I did not asked questions on.

This is what originally turned me away from this particular forum, because all of the bashing of ideas and people. This forum (notice how I am not mentioning the name of it, because I am not one to do this, to give it a bad name, because you can happen across some great individuals and advise) was a very insightful, and still is, but I thought that I would give it another chance. Since that happened, now I see that it hasn't really changed. I may come back to it, but not when I have to deal with morons like the above.

Okay, I just wanted to rant a little (but maybe I went on a little longer than I originally intended to), but this was not the original intent. To get back on track, because I usually do get sidetracked, this was really aboot my excitement of placing 2nd in two categories in the 2012 Cincinnati Malt Infusers' Oktoberbest Homebrew Competition. This is my third year entering, placing 3rd for a Porter last year, and not placing, but scoring high, for a Saison in 2010. I entered three beers this year, a Spice Ale (category 21A), an Ordinary Bitter (category 8A), and a American Barleywine (category 19C). I generally number my beers to what recipe it is, so I have not came up names. Spice Ale is #26, Ordinary Bitter is #25, and American Barleywine is #12. Now what the judges said!


Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer: #26
Judge #1: BJCP rank Certified
Descriptor Definitions: None
Aroma (8/12): Moderate chocolate/cocoa aroma with some esters. Hints of peppery spice.
Appearance (2/3): Dark brown – clear around edges with small bit of tan head around edges.
Flavor (15/20): Moderate malty flavor with well balanced amount of pepper spice. Smooth chocolaty flavor. No hops. Finishes clean with just a hint of bite from the pepper.
Mouthfeel (4/5): Medium body, low carbonation, creamy, and smooth.
Overall Impression (8/10): Easy drinking, well balanced but a bit restrained on the spices and cocoa flavor and aroma. I would expect more of a bite from a pepper beer.
Total (37/50) Generally withing styles parameters, some minor flaws. Very Good score.

Judge #2: BJCP rank Master
Descriptor Definitions: Estery – Aroma and/or flavor of ester (fruits, fruit flavorings, roses)
Aroma (10/12): Nose is dark malt with a very slight som (sic) tinge to it. I get some chocolate, some light fruitiness and some spicy hot notes.
Appearance (3/3): Very dark brown with garnet highlights. Clarity looks on (sic). Pours with low ivory that falls
Flavor (12/20): Malty with some slight roast and choolate tomes. Very good spice pepper flavors that have a broad range of flavours. Very light fruity esters.
Mouthfeel (4/5): Medium + body with a moderate led (sic) of carbonation. Very warm spices. Clean finish, not too astringent on palate.
Overall Impression (8/10): Enjoyable beer. I'd like more body and more richness to blend with the complex pepper notes. The chocolate I do get is good but I want more! Clean, well made beer. Listing a style is always best practice.
Total (37/50): Generally withing styles parameters, some minor flaws. Very Good score.
Assigned Score: 37 Silver Medal


Standard Ordinary Bitter: #25
Judge #1: BJCP rank Not Disclosed
Descriptor Definitions: None
Aroma (9/12): Medium/light sweet malt aroma. Very light earthy hops. Hints of fruit. No DMS. No Diacetyl.
Appearance (2/3): Golden copper. Very good clarity. Strong fine white head with very good retention.
Flavor (10/20): Sweet bready malt up front. Moderate hop bitterness starts in the middle and lingers into a balanced finish.
Mouthfeel (4/5): Medium light body. Medium high carbonation. No warmth, creaminess, astringency.
Overall Impression (6/10): Very good bitter. Could be a little drier for style (lower mash temperature/grain bill).
Total (31/50): Generally withing styles parameters, some minor flaws. Very Good score.

Judge #2: BJCP rank Cerified
Descriptor Definitions: None
Aroma (7/12): Perfumey floral hops. Light caramel malt maybe a little to hoppy for the style.
Appearance (2/3): Clear light copper color with a huge ivory head that lingers.
Flavor (12/20): More floral hop character, bitter but tea-like herbal and fairly bready malt backbone.
Mouthfeel (3/5): Stight (sic) light in body with significant carbonation.
Overall Impression (6/10): A little too hoppy for the style. Try about ½ the flavoring hops next time.
Total (30/50): Generally withing styles parameters, some minor flaws. Very Good score.
Assigned Score: 31 Silver Medal


American Barleywine: #12
Judge #1: BJCP rank National
Descriptor Definitions: None
Aroma (8/12): Malt dominates – nondescript. Low hops. No fruit.
Appearance (3/3): Deep copper color. Fair-medium clarity. Off white head that dissipates quickly
Flavor (14/20): Rich malt (caramel), hop flavor (citrus), and light fruit combine upfront. Malt sweetness and hop bitterness continues into the middle and hop bitterness continues into the finish and aftertaste.
Mouthfeel (4/5): Full body, medium carbonation. Light alcohol warmth without the burn.
Overall Impression (8/10): Very enjoyable beer. A small serving on a cold night would be very much enjoyed. Nice example of style.
Total (37/50) Generally withing styles parameters, some minor flaws. Very Good score.

Judge #2: BJCP rank Undisclosed
Descriptor Definitions: Oxidized – Cardboard Sherry like aromas and flavors.
Aroma (10/12): Rich malt aroma dominates. Fruity, some alcohol noted. No apparent hops. No diacetyl noted.
Appearance (3/3): Copper colored with tan rocky head. Has legs. Good clarity.
Flavor (10/20): Hop bitterness is evident in a very dry finish. Alcohol warmth present. Moderate carbonation. Moderate fruits. Oxidized cardboard taste. No diacetyl.
Mouthfeel (3/5): Moderate / high body. Creamy and warm. Dry palate sensation and some astringency.
Overall Impression (7/10): A good beer to style but the aging process in now adding cardboard characters that takes away from the sherry etc...
Total (33/50) Generally withing styles parameters, some minor flaws. Very Good score.
Assigned Score: 35

Again, I was very pleased with my showing. I sent in the American Barleywine last year and it was really hoppy, so I aged it a year and the hops oxidized, but still had a great score. I wonder what it would have done if it wasn't oxidized. The ordinary bitter was a second running beer that Miles and I brewed after we brewed an American Strong. I wasn't sure where to put it in at, it was either going to be an Ordinary Bitter or a Mild Ale. The Spice Ale didn't score as high as I hoped, but I am really pleased with the silver medal I got.

Well, a few more blogs (4 or 5) and then I'll be caught up.

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