Sunday, April 29, 2007

I Heart Portland

3/28: Got a wicked early start and hit the road for Portland to judge the second split of our regions' entries for 1st Round Nationals. Failed a saving throw against getting lost but still made the venue early. My Judging Mentor made an appearance. Hadn't seen him in awhile, so it was cool to get caught up with him. Sat a flight of 7 entries in the American Pale Ale category (with a taste off between the high scorers of 4 flights of APA) and after lunch a flight of 6 entries in the Robust Porter category (with a taste off between the hight scorers of 2 flights of RP). The APA's were mostly high 20's/low 30's and mostly to style with the exception being an overall lack of well balanced hop character; over bitter without much forward aroma and flavor. There were a couple real nice Robust Porters though. The best one was well bittered, had nice raisiny black malt flavors and a stiff alcoholic backbone. Very well made.

My first out of town judging experience was mostly positive. First off, I appreciate and understand the time and effort made by anyone undertaking the task of organizing a homebrew competition especially a first-timer. The Organizer, his staff, the 'Brew Crew and allied judges in attendance were friendly, capable and on mission. A lot of credit goes to the Organizer and his staff for keeping the judges assigned to flights a mix of experienced BJCP and less experienced BJCP/non-BJCP. With the amount of entries and typical judging day madhouse this effort to support the BJCP programs' mission of beer judge education could have easily been set aside to simply plow through the assembled entries. Now, the "wah-mbulance"; I would have preferred that the judges been assigned to their flights and not left standing around like my amigos at the Home Depot, stepping forward willy-nilly as the flights were brought out. Also avoiding the situation where the local bull judges are zipping up the foxiest categories. I would have liked some preference shown to the judges from out of town. Like maybe some locals stepping forward to help pull the first couple flights instead of the judges from Seattle and Redmond. Anyway, maybe I can squeeze a staff point out of it.

Wimped out on sitting a 3rd flight. A long drive home and still had some errands to run. Hit the Roots organic brewpub for a short pour of their IPA. Awesome glass of beer; huge hop aroma (cut grass/lemon pepper, some sweet resin) wicked up front bitterness, huge herbal/resinous hop flavors, firm lightly sweet malt and very well carbonated. Tasted like weed, yummy. Found the Belmont Station at their new location. Went into the cafe and sat down to a glass of Chouffe Houblon Belgian-style IPA. Delicious. Chatted with the beertender, Wade, super nice guy. I made a pass through the bottleshop on the way out to pick up a few things that aren't distributed up here in Seattle. Mostly Jolly Pumpkin stuff. I think I may have pretty well wiped the Blemont out. Some Roja, some Maracaibo, some Blanca, the last of their Oro and most of the Bam 12 ozs'ers they had on hand. They talked me into a bomber of the 2006 Barley Wine from Pelican, in place of a very expensive Arctic Devil. And then back to the house.

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