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Old 10-06-2009, 03:30 PM   #1
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Default Entering first competition advice

I am entering a competition for the first time and I'm unsure about one of the beers I'm entering. It's basically an English Pale Ale/Standard Bitter, style 8A, in most respects, but the grist contains some rye (13%), oats (7%) and wheat (7%). Does this mean it no longer belongs in this style category? Should I mention these additions in the Notes section of the entry form for this beer? Or just enter it in 8A without mentioning these details? I'm not sure what the right thing to do is - any advice would be very helpful!
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Old 10-06-2009, 03:35 PM   #2
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I've only entered a handful of competitions, but I think the general consensus is that if the additions add something that isn't in the style (i.e. it's cloudy when it should be clear, or using crystal malt when style says 'no crystal malt'), then you might have a better chance in an experimental category. If, however, the characteristics of the beer still fit in the style even with the additions, just note them on the beer form and keep it in the regular category.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:36 PM   #3
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If the other grains make it taste, smell, or look out of style according to the guidelines, then it's not going to score well in that category, Even if you understand that it is out of style and why, all of your feedback is going to be about how it tastes, smells, or looks out of style, and not on what you might actually want to improve in your beer.

If you cannot find an appropriate category, I would put it in 23.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:41 PM   #4
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+1 to what weirdboy said. Remember that the judges don't get a copy of your recipe, so if you enter it as an English bitter, they are going to assume you tried to make a spot-on classic example of the style, and score you down if they perceive any inconsistent flavours, smells, appearance, etc. for that style. If your unconventional grain bill contributes any of these inconsistencies, they will be regarded as a flaw and you might consider category 23.

But category 23 is a hard one to do well in. A lot of judges think that all beers in this category have to be something 'special' or unique. If they spot a beer that tastes like another category (even if it is close), many judges will score you low and tell you that you should have entered it as something else (e.g., an English special bitter). Personally, I don't think this is in the spirit of the Specialty Beer Style, but I have seen it happen a lot.

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Old 10-06-2009, 03:42 PM   #5
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You will probably find most of your questions answered really well here;

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/ente...ome-qs-115105/

Be sure to read the BYO article linked and discussed in that thread...it really addresses your question about styles, and how to categorize or not categorize your beers.

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Old 10-06-2009, 04:00 PM   #6
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I have a couple of recipes now that to me, taste just like bitter I used to drink in England. These recipes also have oats. I'm somehow concerned about having a style I have been drinking for 35 years being judged by people who may not have even ever tasted this style in it's native surroundings. I think this is part paranoia, and part common sense.

I guess my point is that I KNOW this is a good pint that properly represents my native style. (Drinking one now, 'cos I'm brewing) If I entered it in a comp and it got low marks, then I would not bother again with comps if I were entering this category......If it tatses and feels how you intended, then it is a good brew.

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Old 10-06-2009, 04:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laughing_Gnome_Invisible View Post
I guess my point is that I KNOW this is a good pint that properly represents my native style. (Drinking one now, 'cos I'm brewing) If I entered it in a comp and it got low marks, then I would not bother again with comps if I were entering this category......If it tatses and feels how you intended, then it is a good brew.
Point taken, but one should try to be a bit tolerant here, too. Should one expect that all judges must travel overseas to master the recognition of each beer style before they can judge? I know you aren't suggesting that. The reality is that the judges have their own perception of the style based on the examples they have been able to find over here. If you get scored down because your beer tastes like an English pub bitter and not an 10 month old bottle of Fullers, like they were expecting, then you shouldn't feel badly (about your beer or the shortcomings of the judges). C'mon man -- judges are just people too!! Volunteers, at that -- cut em' some slack, dude.
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Old 10-06-2009, 04:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by FlyGuy View Post
Point taken, but one should try to be a bit tolerant here, too. Should one expect that all judges must travel overseas to master the recognition of each beer style before they can judge? I know you aren't suggesting that. The reality is that the judges have their own perception of the style based on the examples they have been able to find over here. If you get scored down because your beer tastes like an English pub bitter and not an 10 month old bottle of Fullers, like they were expecting, then you shouldn't feel badly (about your beer or the shortcomings of the judges). C'mon man -- judges are just people too!! Volunteers, at that -- cut em' some slack, dude.
I understand that entirely! That's why I mentioned the paranoia thang!

I am probably just priming myself to deal with the disapointment of being crap in competition.

I have every respect for the convention that is in place......I just live in my own little world when it comes to the style that got me into brewing in the first place. Bitter is a huge part of who I am. I just can't be told otherwise on that.
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Old 10-06-2009, 04:31 PM   #9
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Thanks to all for the responses - a lot to think about! The BYO article linked to in the thread posted by Revvy makes for sobering reading, for me anyway. It sounds like doing well at competitions is something of a game, beyond being simply a measure of brewing skills. I haven't brewed anything with the intention of entering a comp (and I doubt I ever will), I'm just entering because many people have recommended it as a good way to get honest feedback, and I happen to very much like the beer I mentioned in the original question. I'm leaning towards entering it in 8A without adding any notes and see what happens. It would be interesting to see if the judges recognize any elements from the additions, and how they comment on them. It would be a real stretch to call this beer a cat 23 specialty - I'm sure it would look very unremarkable next to all the weird stuff lined up in that category. As a side note, I have volunteered to steward at the comp (another first for me), so I will ask the judges their opinion on what I should have done. I expect to learn a lot that day!

Thanks again for all the help

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Old 10-06-2009, 04:32 PM   #10
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I understand that entirely! That's why I mentioned the paranoia thang!

I am probably just priming myself to deal with the disapointment of being crap in competition.

I have every respect for the convention that is in place......I just live in my own little world when it comes to the style that got me into brewing in the first place. Bitter is a huge part of who I am. I just can't be told otherwise on that.
Ah yes, I understand. Methinks this style of beer is held close to your heart, approaching something near sacred. Perhaps a competition is not the right place for it then. I suspect your greatest fear is that your crafted and finely tuned recipe will not be appreciated by the judges? No? (You are probably right.)

Brew another style for competition! Something German perhaps -- those lagers are trivial to brew.... (wondering if Kaiser is following along -- ha ha -- jk).

Cheers
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