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Old 01-18-2013, 06:46 PM   #11
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And I think what else is in the flight has to affect the outcome of the tasting. They have the guidelines, but if it says "malty with a bit of alcohol warmth" then obviously mine will seem very lacking in that category compared to the 10 barleywines they just tasted, even if it's not. Obviously judges will do their best to follow the guidelines, but palates do get fatigued and overwhelmed.....
But that's not the way the flights go. We go with lighter flavors first, and then progress to "heavier" flavors, to reduce palate fatigue. We also sip water and use crackers to clear our palates. I doubt any Old Ale would be put in a flight after a barley wine, but until you see where you were at in the flight order and read the scoresheet, speculation isn't really all that helpful.

I would suggest pulling out a scoresheet (free on the BJCP website) and scoring the beer yourself according to the guidelines. Look especially at this part:

Aroma: Malty-sweet with fruity esters, often with a complex blend of dried-fruit, vinous, caramelly, molasses, nutty, toffee, treacle, and/or other specialty malt aromas. Some alcohol and oxidative notes are acceptable, akin to those found in Sherry or Port. Hop aromas not usually present due to extended aging.

And this part:
Flavor: Medium to high malt character with a luscious malt complexity, often with nutty, caramelly and/or molasses-like flavors. Light chocolate or roasted malt flavors are optional, but should never be prominent. Balance is often malty-sweet, but may be well hopped (the impression of bitterness often depends on amount of aging). Moderate to high fruity esters are common, and may take on a dried-fruit or vinous character. The finish may vary from dry to somewhat sweet. Extended aging may contribute oxidative flavors similar to a fine old Sherry, Port or Madeira. Alcoholic strength should be evident, though not overwhelming. Diacetyl low to none. Some wood-aged or blended versions may have a lactic or Brettanomyces character; but this is optional and should not be too strong (enter as a specialty beer if it is).

If you're lacking "luscious malt complexity" in the flavor, or some of the described complexity in the aroma, you would be gigged on that. Or if you've got a prominent smoke or roast flavor, and so on.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:46 PM   #12
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do not confuse "good beer" with "competition winning beer". they might be the same, or they might not. traditional BJCP competitions are about how well you represent the style, and what the judges' interpretations of the style are. and the most drinkable beer might not be the closest to style.

this past weekend i scored really well at an IPA competition, yet a friend's beer who scored lower finished second while i didn't place at all (it was a best in show competition, so the highest scoring beers were moved on to the final table where judges chose their 3 favorites). my beer "competed" better, but his tasted better. having had both beers, i agree with the judges - his was the better brew. it might not have conformed to the style guide as well as mine did, but i'd rather be drinking his

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Old 01-18-2013, 07:03 PM   #13
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do not confuse "good beer" with "competition winning beer". they might be the same, or they might not. traditional BJCP competitions are about how well you represent the style, and what the judges' interpretations of the style are. and the most drinkable beer might not be the closest to style.

this past weekend i scored really well at an IPA competition, yet a friend's beer who scored lower finished second while i didn't place at all (it was a best in show competition, so the highest scoring beers were moved on to the final table where judges chose their 3 favorites). my beer "competed" better, but his tasted better. having had both beer, i agree with the judges - his was the better brew. might not have conformed to the style guide as well as mine did, but i'd rather be drinking his
See that makes absolutely no sense to me. Why on earth would a beer that receives a good score not place? That right there is definitive proof that competitions are complete bulls*&t. I would be livid if I scored a 48 out of 50 and didn't even medal, I feel like that example right there completely relegates that entire competition to "irrelevant and petty."

But I suppose, aren't all competitions?

And Yooper - You really think I didn't even read the style guidelines? Come on now :-P
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:44 PM   #14
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In the 2010 World Series, the Texas Rangers were defeated 4 games to 1. That 1 game was Game 3 of the series. Would anyone claim that after losing that game, the San Francisco Giants weren't "great"?

No, they just lost that day.

If your beer was truly a great beer but didn't place, a lot of things could have happened.

1) There could have been 3 better beers in the flight.
2) The judges could have been weak.
3) The judges might have had preconceived notions of style that yours didn't fit.
4) Your order in the flight could have had an impact (i.e. in an IPA category, a very hoppy IPA near the end of the flight doesn't seem as hoppy as if it is early in the flight).
5) Maybe that individual bottle had a carbonation issue, or something else that made it just so very slightly "off".

With competition, like with the World Series, you need to take it in the aggregate. If you submit it to a couple different competitions, and it places in 4 of them but not in the 5th, then it's a great beer. If it places in 1 of them but not in the other 4, then it's a good beer but not a great beer.

But judging the beer based purely on a SINGLE data point just isn't fair to the beer.

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Old 01-18-2013, 08:19 PM   #15
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Beers are like dogs.

I love my dog, but he will never bring home a best in show.

Doesn't make him any less awesome to me, though.

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Old 01-18-2013, 08:35 PM   #16
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Beers are like dogs.

I love my dog, but he will never bring home a best in show.

Doesn't make him any less awesome to me, though.
You might love him, but if he starts humping my leg, I ain't scoring him a 45! I consider that a "flaw"...
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:36 PM   #17
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Its a waste of time to bring any english style to a competition these days.
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Originally Posted by Satisfaction View Post
At competitions you are at the mercy of the judges and their worldly experiences and preferences. May be the "bigger the better" effect in play.
As has been said, not true. I once had an English IPA win the category and it was grouped with American IPA's and IIPA's. It's all about brewing to style.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:38 PM   #18
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^This. If you beer is great to you then your beer is great! I make beer for myself and a select few to enjoy, as long as we like it nothing else matters!

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Old 01-18-2013, 08:48 PM   #19
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On the plus side, you have some great beer to drown your sorrows with.

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Old 01-18-2013, 08:57 PM   #20
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You're very surprised that your world shattering Old Ale didn't win a medal. Everyone who tasted it agreed with you that it was excellent and worthy of all superlatives. It may well be. But Old Ale is a fairly obscure style. My friends are serious brewers and I would venture that none of them is terribly conversant with the style parameters of Old Ale, nor very familiar with many good examples of the style. If I brewed an Old Ale and my brewing day went very well but missed on a few style points they'd taste that beer and call it awesome and if I praised it to Aetna they'd probably agree with me. But if I handed them the judging sheets and the guidelines and asked them to judge the beers, all bets would be off.

I hope that our judging sheets identify some deficiencies that make you say "oh, yeah, that's probably true" so that you won't feel like you were victimized by errant judging. Judging is a hard thing to do, and it's done by volunteers who try hard to get it right.

That having been said, enter it into another competition. I have a porter that I like that I entered into four competitions before it medaled.

Good luck.

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