Showing posts with label beer competitions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beer competitions. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Gaming It?

Competitions seem to abound in the beer world.

At times, it feels as though every brewery in the history of beer, which started sometime in the 1980s as well all know, has won at least one gong from some competition. Such is the sense of achievement for many that the cheap medal that comes with the award is often framed and hung proudly on the brewery tap room wall for all to see.

From what several brewers have told me, entering said competitions is not cheap either, and the price is only really worth it if you win a gong and can feast on the PR bump for a little while, especially if you win the much coveted "best in show", though a category level gold will also suffice.

Other than the Great American Beer Festival, most competitions appear to be judged mostly by amateurs, folks like me for example, and a day's judging beer with fellow amateurs can be great fun. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with amateurs being asked to evaluate a commercial operation's beer, but I have heard of plenty of instances where BJCP certified judges treat commercial beer like they would homebrew. For the record, I am not a BJCP judge and I have no ambition to part with that level of cash that could be better spent drinking beer.

Again from conversations with plenty of brewers over the last decade or so, most will produce small batches of beer specifically for a given competition. I guess that makes sense, I mean why send regular bottled beer that the consumers will be judging your brewing chops by? It stands to reason that you want the freshest beer possible, in tip top condition, one that hasn't been abused by distributors and retailers. If only there was a competition for distributors and retailers for their quality processes!

I guess from my tone that you have come to the realisation that I find the vast majority of beer competitions meaningless, a blinged up version of Ratebeer or Untappd basically, however there is one part of the whole charade that really bugs my head. Categories.

Competitions use whatever taxonomy of beer styles they feel is best suited to their goal, and some will use the GABF style guidelines while others use the latest BJCP offering. My gripe though is that no-one, it appears, ensures that the brewers are submitting to the appropriate category, everything is left to the capricious whimsy of the entrant. Thus you get situations where beers are winning gongs for categories that they are not marketed as.

A few years back a Virginia brewery made a great song and dance about a beer they sold to the general public as an "Imperial IPA" winning a gold medal in the IPA category of a competition. The competition in question had a separate category for "Double/Imperial IPA", though off the top of my head I can't remember who won that particular gold medal.

Perhaps I am being too much of a stick in the mud purist, but if you are going to market a beer as being in a given style, then you should enter it in competitions in that style category. A medal winning "Czech" pilsner with German hops and less than 15 IBUs is not a pale lager that you would find in the Czech Republic.

I am sure the following scene plays out in tasting rooms across the US, and maybe further afield too. A punter asks for a sample of something and the bartender says "this is our gold medal winning...insert style here". I guarantee that the punter is just going to assume that the gold medal is for the style the beer is being marketed as, and so will assume that the sample in hand is a good representation of the style, and thus the potential for misinformation increases.

Competitions can be useful for recognising the truly great brewers in the industry but when beers are winning gongs for styles they have no right to be representing then that brings down the level for everyone, and kind of feels like companies are gaming the system for cheap marketing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Judgement Days Cometh

The next couple of weekends promise to be awash with beer, for the very simple reason that I am judging at competitions on both upcoming Saturdays.


This coming Saturday is the Dominion Cup, Virginia's largest homebrew competition. As well as judging a couple of categories, I have entered 10 beers of my own:
  • Bitter
  • Best Bitter
  • English Pale Ale
  • Southern English Brown Ale
  • Robust Porter
  • Flanders Red
  • Belgian Dark Strong Ale
  • American IPA
  • Specialty Ale - 19th Century Burton Ale
  • Specialty Ale - 19th Century Czech Dark Beer
I am quietly confident about a few of these beers, in particular the porter, Burton Ale, and bizarrely enough the American IPA - which I have to admit I brewed mainly to avoid judging the American IPA category. If you've been following Fuggled for a while you'd know that beers hopped with the likes of Chinook, Cascade, and Centennial are not generally speaking my thing. I hopped my IPA with the classic triumvirate of Northern Brewer, Chinook, and Cascade, and I have to admit I am rather happy with the outcome, so much so that I can see me brewing it again at some point. The Burton Ale is my interpretation of the 1877 recipe which was brewed as the International Homebrew Project.


The following Saturday is the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival down at Devils Backbone, part of which is the Virginia Beer Cup. I judged the competition last year, the winner being Devils Backbone's magnificent Schwarzbier. This year's festival looks as though it will be bigger than last year, with more than 30 breweries involved and from what I have heard from the organisers, about 130 beers taking part in the competition. Looking at the list of participating breweries, that promises to be a very difficult task to decide on the beer to succeed the Schwarzbier.

Monday, May 7, 2012

And the winner is...

It seems like only yesterday I was having a little moan about the awards handed out as part of the World Beer Cup, especially the Bohemian Pilsner category. As it is, that particular moan was from June 2010, when Gambrinus Excelent somehow contrived to come second in the aforementioned category. It was then with a modicum of interest that I read my way through the winners list for this year's edition.

Good news for this part of Virginia in the form of Devils Backbone taking gold for their Vienna Lager. As I mentioned recently, the Charlottesville area breweries do well with lager and now boast both the current World Beer Cup gold for the Vienna lager category and the current Great American Beer Festival gold, in the form of Starr Hill's Jomo Lager. There was also a silver in the grammatically incorrect "American-Belgo-Style Ale" category, for Blue Mountain's Blue Reserve. Correct grammar would have be "Americo-Belgian Style Ale".

I was also very pleased to see Jeff at Lovibonds picking up some shiny yellow bling for his Sour Grapes in the "Wood or Barrel Aged Sour Ale" category, and I say this more in hope than expectation - could someone please start importing Lovibonds beer in the US?

However, there were a few bits and pieces that I found either startling or down right ridiculous, let's start with my favourite hobby horse, Bohemian Pilsners. Of the 62 entrants, the top three were Starobrno Le?ák, Kru?ovice Imperial and Gambrinus Premium, or to put it another way Heineken, Heineken and SABMiller. I have read that Kru?ovice has improved of late, and given that Starobrno is owned by the same company perhaps they have likewise got better, but Gambrinus Premium is the third best pilsner in the world? While it is true that I haven't had Gambrinus in a few years, I keep in touch with my mates back in Prague and they consistently tell me that it is getting worse than it was, and that many of them have given up on Gambrinus entirely in favour of Pilsner Urquell. Once again I would love to see who the other 59 entrants were, because if this crop of swill is the best available then there are real problems with the Pilsner brewing community (which I actually believe there are, but mainly because too many people don't have enough experience of proper pilsner within it's "sitz im leben" to brew it properly).

Then there are some of the categories themselves, but in particular "German-Style K?lsch/K?ln-Style K?lsch" category. How gracious to allow for a "K?ln-Style K?lsch", though the fact that K?lsch can only ever come from Cologne in order to be true to the Convention governing the style makes the category something of a tautology. Would it not be better to use a name like K?lsch-style Ale, which basically says everything necessary, a blonde ale made in the style of a K?lsch but not actually from Cologne. Now, I know nomenclature is not really wildly important to a lot of people, but I think these cack-handed categories simply breed confusion and are unnecessary when definitions such as the K?lsch Convention already exist.

I realise that competitions really need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but I wonder sometimes if all the meddling makes the pinch more of a hefty slug?

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

男女真人后进式猛烈动态图_男人让女人爽的免费视频_男人脱女人衣服吃奶视频