My First Beer Competition
More than anything, I didn’t know what to expect. Coming from a background in sports I guess I was expecting that a lot of people would be there and there would be somewhat of a sporting atmosphere, I mean after all this was a competition. Much to my surprise when we got there, there were only a few people and the judges. Most of the judging was over and we made our way to the scoring tables to find our sheets. My brewing partner and I entered our Irish Red Ale and Saison into a competition that took place 7/23/16. It was hosted by ABNormal Brewers, and they put on a well-run beer competition.
Irish Red Ale
This beer was actually brewed to be at peak flavor for a competition on 6/4/16, almost as full 2 months earlier. We can attest to the fact that it did taste better at that time. The judging for this beer was about what we expected. Generally a good beer but a little past it’s prime. I believe one judge noted a seemingly plastic flavor that was starting to be produced. The beer scored in the high 20’s which wasn’t bad considering it was judged well past peak time. There were no glaring deficiencies in the brewing process or in the ingredients used according to judging feedback. Due to being past peak it took 6/6 in the category.
We debated on whether or not to enter both of our Saisons since they were fermented with different yeast strains and at slightly different temperatures. In the end, we decided to just enter the Saison that I fermented. The beer received decent mark from the judges and an overall mid 20’s score. The biggest issue with this beer was that carbonation didn’t happen as it should have. I force carbonated this beer in keg for longer than it should have needed, but the CO2 never really infused in the beer. I think it was due to carbonating the beer at room temperature instead in a kegerator. At any rate, the incorrectly carbonated Saison lost me points in other categories since this changes the mouth feel, aroma, and flavors just to name a few. Again, we knew this going into the competition but were hoping for the best anyway. Due to the carbonation issues, and not being as dry of a finish as it should have been, it took 4/11 in the category.
All in all, we feel pretty good about the process and the beers we entered. Understanding the judging process will help dial in beer for future competitions for sure. We haven’t decided yet if we are going to keep trying to perfect the Irish Red and Saison in future competitions until we win, or if we plan to enter different beers based off what will be peaking for us at competition time. We have definitely caught the bug with brewing competitions and will not stop until we have a Best Beer medal hanging on the wall. Let’s be serious though, once we get there that won’t be good enough either.