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Old 01-09-2009, 12:55 PM   #1
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Default Homebrew competitions

I entered a couple of beers in a homebrew competition back in 1998 (I just came across the old score sheets). I think I'd like to sort of plan my brewing over the next few months to enter a couple near the end of the year. Any tips on how to improve my showing? Are there certain things to keep in mind when choosing the style or recipe? For example, these tasters are tasting brew after brew after brew...does that affect their sense of taste and if so how can I take advantage of that? Should I brew several batches of the same style and pick the best one? Are there any styles of beer that I should avoid? Or prefer?

According to my score sheets, my California Common didn't fare so well but my English Best Bitter did OK (it made second round but fail after that). I did these very early in my all-grain-career so hopefully I can do better.

Thanks for any input.

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Old 01-09-2009, 01:07 PM   #2
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I also just recently entered 2 beers into competition. An Amber Ale, and my Belgian Wit.
I didnt place in either one but my Belgian still scored a 41. I couldnt believe that I didnt place with a score of 41.
Here is what I was gigged on;
1) "Bottle not filled properly" Evidently they want it loking like a commercial beer 1" from the top.
2) "Debris on outside of bottle" I guess it gathered dust on it waiting to be picked up by the club from the LHBS that I mailed it to.

So it was a little discouraging, but when I was told that 41 was an awesome score, and that everyone in the club was shocked that I didnt place, I didnt feel so bad.

I also look at it as a positive learning experience, so next time I wont lose those point.

I would pick your best beers, and compare them to the BJCP style guidelines, I would take a sip, and then read to see if what I was tasting was what I was reading.

I also did this when I got my results back, I would repeat the process.

At the competition that I entered there were over 400 entries, and I am sure that by the end of the night taste buds might have been a little off, but they are only taking small sips, plus, on larger competitions, they break it up into different judging nights, so they are not doing them all at once.

Hope this helps.
Josh

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Old 01-09-2009, 02:52 PM   #3
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I had an Amber that scored 39 and 39.5 that didn't place either. From what I understand, the look of the bottle and fill level will be commented on but shouldn't affect the scoring. It MIGHT influence their overall impression unfortunately. The thing that pisses me off is that when filling from a keg, filling it as high as possible is more beneficial from an oxidation perspective. The whole notion of appropriate fill level is based on bottle conditioning.

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Old 01-09-2009, 03:35 PM   #4
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I agree Bobby, but on the score sheets I was deducted a total of 5 point between those two things.

Like I said it was a learning experience, and yes you are right about the filling.
Oh well, next time I will place.
At least I made it to the second round.

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Old 01-09-2009, 03:45 PM   #5
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I've only submitted one brew to one competition, but like the above posters, I got deducted points for low fill and slight oxydation (which occured during bottling from a keg). Nowadays I take a six pack worth of brew that's going to be kegged and bottle condition with carb tabs so as to avoid said issue.

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Old 01-09-2009, 04:54 PM   #6
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There are no points associated with the bottle inspection. I believe it's just there to let some judges make fools of themselves.

All of my bottles are filled from the keg. I've had numerous entries with comments like "Bottle conditioned".

I've judged with people that had an obvious bias against bottles with a high fill level. Occasionally they are surprised by the head and carbonation level. These are usually people that only bottle condition beers and have never filled a bottle from a keg. The same people are surprised when I share a growler of beer that was filled a day or two in the past and it is as good as if it was poured right off the tap.

I know one guy that would love to have a field to check off for "Pfffft" when opening and deduct points if it doesn't.

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Old 01-09-2009, 07:04 PM   #7
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ABout competitions: Never expect anything. Even if your beer is god's gift to the beer world, it all comes down to perception. You should not have been marked off that much for fill or any of that. Oxidation is a problem, though, and is why if I am sending out for a comp, I use my beer gun. I can purge the bottle with co2 and I get much more consistent results.

As for what to enter, and any improvements... You want to be within style, obviously, but you want to stand out as well. Something that gives it a distinct difference from the other beers will fare well, but you have to make sure it is a desirable component of hte beer you're making.

I'd also consider what styles you're entering. some categories are tough (IPA comes to mind) while some don't have nearly as many entries (like spiced beers.) I would also say that beer varies on region and you'll even be affected by the weather on the day of the competition. It is all within guidelines, but it is still insanely subjective.

Just produce the best beer you possibly can, and see how it goes.

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