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Old 02-03-2010, 11:19 AM   #1
Aug 2009
Reading, PA
Posts: 85
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So this month I'll be entering several beers in the War of the Worts competition here in Pennsylvania. BJCP style classification is required upon registering the beers. The classification is obvious for most of them, as I typically brew to style, but there's one brew that's puzzling me: my "porter".

Some basic info may help:

-OG was 1.069 and my FG was 1.016, giving an ABV of about 6.9%.
-Specialty grains consisted of roughly .5 lbs each of caramel 60L, chocolate malt, black patent malt, and roasted barley.
-Hop additions were 1 oz First Gold (8%) at 45 minutes and 1 oz Challenger (6.3%) at 30 mins.
-Estimated color is 43 SRM, estimated bitterness 22 IBU

So far I've been calling it a 12A Robust Porter, but looking more closely at the guidelines, it doesn't seem to fall squarely into that category, as it's likely got too much black malt and roasted barley. The closest alternatives in my mind are 13D Foreign Extra Stout and 13E American Stout; however, I'm not sure it matches the malt character of a Foreign Extra Stout, and it's probably too lowly-hopped to be considered an American Stout.

What are your thoughts?

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Old 02-03-2010, 01:27 PM   #2
Beerrific's Avatar
Mar 2007
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I think 12A would be your best bet. It can be hard with BJCP contests in the fact that you really need to have a style in mind when developing the recipe to do really well.

But really, I doubt the judges won't say "oh, you used too much roasted barley..." if it is balanced. Balance and flavor are the most important parts of the beer in drinking and judging. Choose the style category that best fits the flavor of the beer, don't worry about what you put in it (for the most part).

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Old 02-03-2010, 04:10 PM   #3
Nov 2008
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I agree -- I'd enter it as a Robust Porter. It's such a broad category that you've got some latitude to not quite be perfect & still do very well. Also, I think bigger, more assertive beers often do well in a category like this, so it may help you that it's a big assertive porter.
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:15 PM   #4
Jun 2005
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What does it taste like? The best way to decide what category to enter is to taste the beer while you read the guidelines. Whatever it tastes like is what you enter it as.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:03 PM   #5
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Oct 2005
Oak Grove, Oregon, USA
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Denny has the right approach. My first judging, the best tasting beer of the flight got an 18. Should have been entered as a Mild, not a Bitter.

If you are not limited to a certain number of entries, you could do both classes. It'd be a hoot if you scored twice.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:35 PM   #6
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Aug 2006
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I've done that with a Bourbon Barrel English Barleywine. I couldn't decide if it had enough oak to get dinged in the EBW nor enough to be good for Wood Aged. 2nd place in wood aged, honorable mention in EBW.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:37 PM   #7
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Mar 2009
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I was surprised to hear about how strict a lot of the competitions are with the guidelines. Apparently adding something like ginger to a standard recipe will get it dinged points for that specific category, and you have to move it to another category.
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:37 PM   #8
Jan 2008
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As a BJCP judge I'll chime in. It looks like your concern about fitting in relates to the "specs" of the beer, ie your gravity is a bit too high, your IBUs are on the low end, and your SRM is too high for a Robust Porter. Don't get too caught up on the raw "stats." Keep in mind, the judges will not have your entry sheet in front of them when scoring your beer, so they won't ever know your vital stats. They will just have your beer, a glass, and the BJCP guides for the style being judged. The vast majority of judges will not be able to tell a significant difference between 35 and 43 SRM (and if they can, appearance is only worth 3 points out of your total score anyway) or the difference in ABV between a 6.5% and 6.9% beer.

Therefore, when entering a beer in competition, like said above, it's really all about the taste/aroma. So does it taste like a robust porter? Per the guides, a robust porter is described as "moderately strong malt flavor usually features a lightly burnt, black malt character (and sometimes chocolate and/or coffee flavors) with a bit of roasty dryness in the finish. Overall flavor may finish from dry to medium-sweet, depending on grist composition, hop bittering level, and attenuation. May have a sharp character from dark roasted grains, although should not be overly acrid, burnt or harsh. Medium to high bitterness, which can be accentuated by the roasted malt. Hop flavor can vary from low to moderately high (US or UK varieties, typically), and balances the roasted malt flavors. Diacetyl low to none. Fruity esters moderate to none." I've found that if the flavor lines up, usually the aroma and other characteristics work pretty well too.

Robust porter is distinguished from stout in that most stouts (tropical being the primary exception, as well as some RIS) have a strong roasted barley character. Your grain bill is probably more on the end of a robust porter than a brown porter, so if you want to keep in in a porter, robust looks to be the proper category.

As to what other categories could be considered, you are correct that Stout is the closest cousin to Porter. However, with a 22 IBU I would not enter it in American Stout. Entries that do well in that category are usually quite heavily hopped and will display a noteable american hop (citrus/resin) character. I doubt your beer has this. Foreign Extra Stout is also probably too roasty for what you have described as your beer, and your specs are more out of line with the FES than they are with the RP. I thought perhaps a dry stout could work, but your FG looks too high and I am guessing you don't have the proper character for a dry stout.

So, when looking at the information you provided, I would say the most appropriate category for your beer is robust porter. Good luck in the competition.

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Old 02-04-2010, 12:29 AM   #9
Aug 2009
Reading, PA
Posts: 85
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Thanks a bunch to everyone who replied.

I'll go with the general consensus and call it a robust porter. Upon tasting it my gut does make me think "porter", so between that and the stats I think it's a safe bet. Here's to hoping that the judges agree.

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Old 02-04-2010, 02:58 AM   #10
Jan 2009
Posts: 117

+1 for Robust Porter. Mostly because I entered an American Stout.

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