Monday, August 16, 2010

A Beaten Ego

So I got my results back from the Jacksonville beer competition ( To say that my beer did badly is probably an understatement. It certainly humbled the ego of my brewing, but it's also inspiring to me as well. There's also more research that I realize I have to do when I am brewing beer styles. I'll be honest, seeing my score so low hurt a little. Ever get your wisdom teeth out? It didn't hurt anywhere near that bad. Lets break it down!

To start a brief synopsis of how the competition works. You submit your beer to a specific style. Your beer gets judged by a certified judge. The judge scores your beer on a standard score sheet, relative to the style you submitted it under. The best score your beer can get is a 50.

I received an average of 14.5. Ouch. One judge even apologized for such a low score (thank you by the way, Judge).

14.5 is at the bottom of the fair catagory. Doesn't sound so bad right? Here's the description of the fair catagory:

"Fair (14-20)- This beer has its share of problems that may include missing the style parameters, off flavors and aromas, balance problems, contamination, or other major flaws. Scores near the lower end of this range exhibit more major flaws."

Scores near the lower end of this range exhibit more major flaws.*whimper*

Although it's not quite as bad as it sounds.

First off I did get great scores on my clarity. The judges mentioned it was "brilliantly clear." Oorah secondary fermentation. I also was noted low head, and poor retention. I also received poor marks due to low carbonation, which could have also attributed to the poor head on the beer. I expected these comments because of my poor method for transferring the beer from the keg to the bottle.

The biggest problem that carried through all the catagories was the strong smell and flavor of licorice. The licorice is something I noticed when I first tasted the beer as well, and did not expect it. Both judges made the same basic comment, that the licorice was overwhelming for the style, and the beer could have been entered in the wrong catagory. This got me thinking. In Beersmith, I loaded a catagory, and designed to it. I got all my numbers pretty spot on. Color, bitterness, gravity. One thing I didn't think of though is taste, flavor. You cant really quantify that. It just dawned on me that you could very well make a beer with sugar, food coloring, and hops and meet those numbers. Your beer might taste like the output of a Miami sewer drain during spring break at like 4am (gross), but the numbers are there. Hence the necessary research I mentioned earlier. It also dawned on me that there could be more than one style of beer with the same numbers. Same color, bitterness, and gravity, but using completely different ingredients to create a completely different experience.

I take a lot from this experience, and I'm stoked to enter a beer again in the next competition! Today I proudly file away my abysmal score, and look to a future of competition. Watch out Florida homebrewers, here I come!


  1. I'm not entirely sure. Could be the grain I was using, could be poor keg cleaning. We'll see.