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Old 06-01-2010, 11:55 PM   #1
agroff383
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Hey all, got my scores back for my 2 brews entered in Beerfest here in Lancaster a big craft brew festival. I didn't do so hot on either one, 28/50 on IPA and 30/50 on Cali Common.

Basically I am not disappointed I want to know how to improve. The master judge said the IPA was oxidized. I can't detect this in the beer. What causes this? I do not do anything out of the ordinary in my brewing practices.

In the Cali Common he said it had a vegetal character to the beer, a soapy, earthy aroma, canned vegtables... Would this be due to poor yeast health or high ferment temps?

Overall I guess I did ok for brewing a little over a year and maybe 30 batches, this was my first competition.

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Old 06-02-2010, 12:03 AM   #2
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This is a really good source for info on off flavors.
Sucks about your scores but atleast you know where to improve and I can drink to that
http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-2.html

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Old 06-02-2010, 12:31 AM   #3
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I recently went through a study group and took the BJCP exam in February, so I hope I can help.

First, 28 and 30 arent that bad. If you look at the lower left corner of the scoresheet, you will notice that 28 is "good" and 30 is "very good". Also, remember that above anything else, the judges are judging your beers against the BJCP style guidelines for those styles (here are the links to IPA and Cali Common). Your beers could be great, but if they don't fit withing the judges perception of what those guidelines say, it won't score very high.

As for your off flavors:

IPA - oxidation typically occurs post fermentation. If you weren't very careful when racking or bottling, you might have introduced some oxygen into the beer. If left to sit for a while, esp in a warmer environment, oxidation can quickly manifest itself. The most common description of oxidation is wet cardboard. It really took me a long time to be able to detect it. Some experienced judges can detect oxidation by looking at a bottle. Avoiding it requires special attention at racking. Some go as far as purging bottling buckets with CO2. Kegger who bottle out a keg will shoot some CO2 into each bottle with a device called a Beer Gun.

Cali Common - from your description of what the judges said, it sounds like DMS. Did this beer contain a lot of Pilsner malt? DMS is a cooked corn, cabbage or vegetal aroma. There is a precursor in all malt, espeically very lightly kilned malt like Pils called SMM. When SMM is heated, it changes into DMS. DMS is very volatile, so boiling drives it out. Its generally recommended to boil for 90 min for any beer containing Pilsner malt for this reason. Also, chilling slowly can produce DMS. When boiling, DMS is driven off with steam. SMM still converts to DMS at temps above 170. If it takes you a long time to chill, DMS is created and not boiled out. I'm not making any assumptions about your beer or how you chill, I'm merely pointing out the likely cause of the defect the judge found in your beer.

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Old 06-02-2010, 12:34 AM   #4
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Looks to me like my Cali Common was not cooled fast enough, I did this inside with just an ice bath cooling and it took awhile. When I brew with my regular equipment I could get it down to 10 mins to around 80F.

Also the cooked vegtable flavor seems to come more from lager yeast, which I used San Francisco lager yeast from white labs.

Oxidation in the IPA was from when I brewed it to when it was in the competition, which was about 2 months...hopefully I am learning something from this....thanks for the link, I had that page bookmarked on my old computer but it crashed and I lost it all!

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Old 06-02-2010, 12:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edcculus View Post
I recently went through a study group and took the BJCP exam in February, so I hope I can help.

First, 28 and 30 arent that bad. If you look at the lower left corner of the scoresheet, you will notice that 28 is "good" and 30 is "very good". Also, remember that above anything else, the judges are judging your beers against the BJCP style guidelines for those styles (here are the links to IPA and Cali Common). Your beers could be great, but if they don't fit withing the judges perception of what those guidelines say, it won't score very high.

As for your off flavors:

IPA - oxidation typically occurs post fermentation. If you weren't very careful when racking or bottling, you might have introduced some oxygen into the beer. If left to sit for a while, esp in a warmer environment, oxidation can quickly manifest itself. The most common description of oxidation is wet cardboard. It really took me a long time to be able to detect it. Some experienced judges can detect oxidation by looking at a bottle. Avoiding it requires special attention at racking. Some go as far as purging bottling buckets with CO2. Kegger who bottle out a keg will shoot some CO2 into each bottle with a device called a Beer Gun.

Cali Common - from your description of what the judges said, it sounds like DMS. Did this beer contain a lot of Pilsner malt? DMS is a cooked corn, cabbage or vegetal aroma. There is a precursor in all malt, espeically very lightly kilned malt like Pils called SMM. When SMM is heated, it changes into DMS. DMS is very volatile, so boiling drives it out. Its generally recommended to boil for 90 min for any beer containing Pilsner malt for this reason. Also, chilling slowly can produce DMS. When boiling, DMS is driven off with steam. SMM still converts to DMS at temps above 170. If it takes you a long time to chill, DMS is created and not boiled out. I'm not making any assumptions about your beer or how you chill, I'm merely pointing out the likely cause of the defect the judge found in your beer.
Awesome! Thank you so much for the advice...the Cali Common was partial mash and I used light dry extract, I don't think that contains Pilsner but it might. Also it did take a while to chill because I could not use my immersion chiller either.

For the IPA, it was stored in a closet that could reach temps of 75 to 80 degrees. I thought this wouldnt cause oxidation but you are saying it can? Because I am storing beer in my basment now that I have a house and have more room. It is dark and around 65 down there even at 90 outside. I just cannot get the wet cardboard or sherry flavor I know what everyone is getting at but I haven't been doing it long enough to know for sure...I just hope someday I can get to that point. Thank you for the detailed advice it will def help me in the future!
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Old 06-02-2010, 12:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agroff383 View Post
For the IPA, it was stored in a closet that could reach temps of 75 to 80 degrees. I thought this wouldnt cause oxidation but you are saying it can?
Warmer temps wont necessarily cause oxidation, but they will speed up the process. I forget the exact number, but reactions take place something like 2x faster for every 10 degree C. Therefore, if you weren't 100% careful about exposing your beer to oxygen, and it sits at warm temps for longer periods of time, it will occur faster. I know its not realistic, but the best case scenario would be to store all of your bottles in a fridge once they reached the correct carbonation level. Even if you goofed a little when racking, any oxidation would take a LOT longer to manifest. If you get a chance, give the Brew Strong podcast on oxidation a listen.
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Old 06-02-2010, 01:25 AM   #7
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So I need to boil longer for grains like Pilsner. Would Vienna, Munich, or Maris Otter also produce DMS? Should I do a 90 minute boil across the board for all lighter colored beers?

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Old 06-02-2010, 01:41 AM   #8
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I only boil 90 min for beers with pils malt. In your example, I'm pretty sure light dry extract or extra light dry extract contains some pils malt. I'm not 100% sure of how much DMS is driven out by the extract making process. Like I said, since I didn't taste the beer, its hard to tell exactly that the judge was talking about DMS. I think its a pretty good bet though.

Other base malts are ok with a 60 min boil. Vienna, munich, maris otter and even regular American 2 row pale malt are kilned longer and hotter than Pils malt. The longer kilning in turn gets rid of a lot of SMM. Therefore, there is a lot less stuff that will turn into DMS to begin with in other malts.

I think some brewers and even breweries advocate a 90 min boil acorss the board. If you did a poll, I'd be willing to bet most people wouldn't think it was worth their time except with Pils malt.

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Old 06-02-2010, 01:53 PM   #9
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Don't be disheartened by your scores. They are not that bad for starters. I probably wouldn't be able to taste those flaws myself. you've got some solid advise to work with now.

I'd check those same beers into another competitions soon as possible and see what someone else thinks. Quite often you will get a wide range of scores, depending on who is tasting, and many other factors AT THAT TIME.

Sometimes it takes a few tastings to reach a consensus.

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Old 06-02-2010, 02:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homercidal View Post
Quite often you will get a wide range of scores, depending on who is tasting, and many other factors AT THAT TIME.
That is an understatement I recently entered the same beer in two comps at the same time. One scored 22.5, one scored 41. Some sample comments:

Comp 1: great body
Comp 2: almost a bit watery

1: this is a very fine example of the style.
2: would have been better as a different style

1: nice strong coffee and chocolate notes
2: very low aromas

1: Deep roastiness
2: not enough roasted malt character

It's like they judged two different beers, but they were both bottled at the same time and judged within days of one another.

So the moral of the story is take the judges' comments with a grain of salt. Your beer's position in the flight they have to taste has as much (or more) bearing on your score than the beer itself.

-Joe
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