Monday, April 30, 2007

Overall Impression: 3/10

On the way home from Portland, reflecting on that days' judging experience, I decided that unless you're putting your ass in a chair to judge at home brew competitions you have no business entering beer into home brew competitions for judging. Competition organizing and judging take up a huge amount of time and effort. Judging your home brewed beer is a lot of work. There are many entries that absolutely require very thoughtful deliberate consideration. Particularly when a Quality Judge is working at rating the beer accurately for competition and providing meaningful feedback for you, the brewer. The program needs more judges, especially in regions like ours where there are a lot of very active competitive home brewers, great distances seperate our events and the ratio of entries to available judges is high. The goal should be to minimize the number of entries each judge has to evaluate. Fewer entries means less palate blow-out, higher quality feedback on the scoresheet and I don't go home feeling like I spent the day drinking hairspray. Home brew judging should be enjoyable.

Entrants are hopeful that the feedback they receive from the judges will help them brew better beer. Sounds good, but the best way to develop a better understanding of beer flavor profile and process is by judging beer. I repeatedly hear two comments from beer judges; "I got involved with judging because I wasn't satisified with the quality of the comments I received for my entries and I knew I could do better" and "Once I started judging beer the quality of my home brew improved". Cheers to the former as I think the program is strongest when we take responsibility for it by entering beers into home brewing competitions for judging and then supporting home brew competitions by judging in them. In regards to the latter, the quality of your home brewing (beer, mead, cider, sake, experimental, extreme, kitchen sink beers, whatever) will improve to a greater degree with involvement in judging than by simply relying on a judges' feedback. Learning to judge beer, developing the understanding of every aspect of brewing, flavor evaluation and quality assessment necessary for Quality Judging will do better for your brewing in a way that comments on a scoresheet never will. Cheers!

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