So, I entered a chocolate stout in a local homebrew competition last week. The wife just reminded me that I tasted my entry (a chocolate stout) with a friend on the same day that I dropped said entry off, and it was a very nice, chocolatey stout - not a sweet chocolate, mind you, but more of a bitter baker's chocolate kind of thing.
Anyway, that was last Sunday. The competition was last Thursday night, and the beer scored pretty low (I think it averaged a 22). The judges both told me they couldn't pick up any chocolate, which absolutely puzzled me. I figured it must've been a case of palette fatigue or something, then I saw the score sheets both cited oxidation, which I thought was way off base.
So, I took another taste the following morning and, sure enough, got a nose full of sherry in the aroma, and the sherry flavor completely masked any chocolate flavor in the beer.
Now, after going through my notes and comparing this beer to my buddy's half of the batch, which shows no similar signs of oxidation, I'm pretty sure I know where I picked up the oxidation (during transfer to secondary to age on cacoa nibs, which he did not do with his half), so I think I have a handle on that part of the question.
But is it normal for sherry notes like that to show up in 4 days' time? I thought that level of oxidation took significant amounts of time to crop up... Now, this particular beer was brewed on St Patty's day, and it's been in the keg and on tap since late April now, so there is some amount of age on it. But I would've expected to note a hint of oxidation to creep in over time, rather than for it to hit all at once like this. Just curious if this is typical, I guess.
At the very least, I'm glad that we finished off the lion's share of the keg before this cropped up!