Showing posts with label bjcp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bjcp. Show all posts

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Definition of Black

On Saturday I was a judge at the Dominion Cup, Virginia's largest, I believe, homebrew competition. In the morning I got to judge a combination of Scottish, Irish and Brown Ales, which was won by a 70/- ale which I later discovered was an entry from fellow CAMRAite and blogger, Jamey Barlow. The afternoon session was rather more taxing, as I had been handled Category 23, Specialty Beer, or as it should be accurately be known "random stuff that doesn't belong anywhere else".

Some of the beers in the category included an American IPA fermented with Brettanomyces and an Imperial Stout that had raspeberry puree in the secondary fermentation and then aged on cacao nibs, the most dominant beer type though was "Black IPA" in various guises. Now, if you have been reading Fuggled for a reasonable length of time you will know that I am not a fan of Black IPA, Cascadian Dark Ale, call it what you will, but the task of the judge is to be as objective as possible, and thus I tried to be.

Our task though was made all the more difficult because of different interpretations of exactly what the "black" in Black IPA really means - should the black be purely colour or should there be a distinct roasty element? Unlike the Great American Beer Festival, the BJCP style guidelines have yet to take into account the phenomena which is Black IPA. I have read plenty of bits and bobs on the old interwebs to the tune that if you drink a Black IPA with your eyes closed you shouldn't be able to tell the difference between it and a normal IPA, so my interpretation would be that roastiness from roasted barley, Black Malt or Carafa shouldn't be noticeable to any great degree. My fellow judges felt that the addition of dark malts should be obvious to distinguish the Black IPA from the usual kind, to which I wonder how it not then just an overhopped Porter or Stout?

It is clear to me that the BJCP needs to address this hole in the style guidelines, perhaps creating a new sub category within category 10, it would be 10D - American Black Ale. As for the guidelines themselves, using the GABF guideline would be a good start, which reads:

"American-style Black Ales are very dark to black and perceived to have medium high to high hop bitterness, flavor and aroma with medium-high alcohol content, balanced with a medium body. Fruity, floral and herbal character from hops of all origins many contributre character. The style is further characterized by a balanced and moderate degree of caramel malt and dark roasted malt flavor and aroma. High astringency and high degree of burnt roast malt character should be absent
  • OG - 1.056-1.075
  • FG - 1.012-1.018
  • ABV - 6-7.5%
  • SRM - 35+"
Clearly then, while roast is an element in the beer it shouldn't be the dominant flavour or aroma, and in opinion that has been the problem with pretty much every Black IPA I have tried, whether professional or homebrew, it is simply so roasty that it may as well be an "American Porter".

Clarification is most definitely in order.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Hate Pigeonholing!

I find myself in somewhat of a quandry, though thankfully not of the kind that leads to existential angst. You see, I have decided that this year I will go ahead and enter the Dominion Cup, Virginia's leading home brew competition. I also plan to enter the home brew section in the local county fair, though this isn't a BJCP or AHA sanctioned competition, but hey, any chance for some glory and being able to call myself an "award winning home brewer". Sit, ego, sit.

I have four beers to enter for each competition:
  • Samoset 2009 - my barleywine into which I chucked some dried sweet orange peel
  • Black Rose - a very dark Dunkelweizen, almost a wheat stout
  • Old Baldy - a 65 IBU American IPA, dry hopped with Challenger
  • Experimental Dark Matter - the peat smoked mild
It is the last of those four that is the root of my bafflement, or rather which category to enter it into. Given the style guidelines set out by the BJCP for Mild (11A), a starting OG of 1.052 is too much, though at 4.3% abv the alcohol content is within the given limits, as are the 16 IBUs.

However, given that I used a portion of Peat Smoked Malt in the grist should I enter it in the Smoked Beer Section (22B)? If so, then the question becomes, what is the base style? I have played with the idea that the base style closest to the beer I produced is a Robust Porter (12B), but the hopping is wrong for the BJCP's interpretation of Porter, though ideal for Mild.

There is of course the final option, to enter the beer in category 23, the anything goes world of "specialty beer". The problem there is that I am not convinced that my beer is that much of a specialty. Historically speaking we all know that "mild" doesn't refer to the alcoholic strength of a beer, but rather it was a young beer that hadn't yet become "stale" or "old", so from my understanding of Mild, that's exactly what I have made, just with a dash of lovely peat smokiness in there as well.

What to do, what to do?

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

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