So this year I am putting in my second entry into the NYS Fair brew competition. Last time I entered something in, it was my California Common that scored well, but the advice was that it was a little too “common”. Looking back at the recipe, it really was.
Now I know what you are thinking; “I’m not in this for competitions, I in it to make beer”. While this is how I feel as well, the feedback that you get it REALLY valuable. Your brews are blind tasted versus other examples of the same style in an effort to decide:
1) Closest to style guidelines
2) Off flavors from brewing process
3) How your beer works as a whole
While most of the folks tasting your beer are generally more “beer geeky” than your average drinker, their also generally homebrews themselves. The feedback you get is generally geared towards constructive criticism. in some cases if you have a bunk beer, they’ll let you know. I took a brew judging class for a while and one of the most important things you learn there is to give as complete of a review of the beer as possible to allow the brewer to improve.
It’s fun and constructive.
This year, I decided to enter in five beers for review. Listed below are the styles and the beers that I entered (listings are based on the BJCP Guidelines):
One of the things you’ll hear from people about why not to enter brew competitions is “I don’t brew in style”. I usually base my beers on the style as the high-low for what I am looking to do. The one brew listed that doesn’t fall into that is the Kaffir Lime. That brew has NOTHING in common with an American Premium Lager, other than the fact that it’s a lager. However, it’s a chance to see what people think about it and to get some judges all ripped up!
Seriously though, it’s a great chance to get some unbiased feedback. Some judges suck and don’t give you useful feedback, but others will leave you their email and phone number so you can contact them and ask questions.