Monday, March 08, 2010

Beer Scores - No Hardware, but Good Feedback

On Saturday, I picked up my score sheets from the KC Biermeisters 27th Annual Homebrew Competition. I already knew I hadn't won any awards, so I picked them up with some trepidation, mixed with eagerness to get some expert feedback on my beer.

Fortunately, the scoring was not as brutal as I had feared. I submitted 5 beers - 2 I knew were bad, but wanted some feedback on how to improve them, one that was pretty good but around a year and a half old, so well past its prime, and 2 I was happy with. I was surprised that my beers all wound up in the "very good" category, with 2 scoring 30, one 31, one 32, and one 34.

One of the 30s was one that I anticipated would score badly. It was a weizen that I thought had too much tartness and no head retention, and I'm not sure why. The judges, KC Wort Hog among them, picked up on the fact that I overhopped this one a bit, and focused their suggestions on that point. The feedback was good, and the Wort Hog suggested a potential cause of my dissipating foam.

The other 30 was my robust porter, which I knew was past its prime. The judges picked up on some phenols, and a bit of sourness. The feedback encouraged me to brew this one again - it really is a good beer when it's fresh.

My Dark American Lager was one of the beers I expected to score badly, but it got a 31 (including a 34 from a Nationally ranked judge). A dark American lager is a tough beer to brew well - it should have relatively little flavor, like a Michelob Dark, which means that off-tastes stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. I made the beer for the challenge, and the judges seemed to enjoy it, with the only criticism being that it tasted a little too good; there was a bit too much malt and flavor for the style. Fair enough - I was glad to get the feedback without any glaring complaints about my brewing technique.

I love my schwarzbier, which scored a 32. Most of the judges' criticisms focused on the fact it was overcarbonated - I've not yet mastered the science of filling bottles from kegs and preserving the proper level of carbonation. Again, I got helpful feedback from two nationally-ranked judges, which is pretty awesome. I've brewed another schwarzbier since I made the one I submitted, and I totally changed the recipe. I'd love to see how the two score side by side.

Finally, my milk stout scored a 34, which is a pretty respectable score. Unfortunately, there were LOTS of stouts entered into the competition, so I knew I was unlikely to bring home a medal unless my beer was darned near perfect. Again, it was overcarbonated. The judges picked up a lot of chocolate flavor; one suggested that perhaps I had added cocoa to my beer. I hadn't, but I agree that the chocolate flavor developed from the interplay of the roasted malts was strong. It's a likable beer, and I'm glad the judges enjoyed it.

I'm really happy I entered my beers into the contest. Sure, I want to win some more recognition, but I'd rather get the feedback to make better beer. I really appreciate the attention and comments from some top-notch judges - next year, I'll be bringing home some medals.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Paco said...

I miss your beer.

3/12/2010 10:37 AM  
Blogger Muddy Mo said...

Sounds like a positive outcome all the way around. I hope I can be as positive about the criticism whenever the time comes to submit a brew for judging.

3/13/2010 3:05 PM  

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