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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > When a great beer doesn't place in a competition....
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:58 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by BudzAndSudz View Post
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."
because competition don't end at scoring. scoring well is what gets you to the finalists' table. once you're in the final show-down, it comes down to which beer the judges like best. if you're at that table, you've already proven that you've brewed to style. it will come down to what the judges feel are the best beers, without looking at a scoresheet.

admittedly you need a certain constitution to enter competitions. also, this is your first one. if this happens to you consistently, you can get upset... but this is one comp with one beer. and as amazing as your beer is, there might be others that are even better.


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Old 01-18-2013, 10:04 PM   #22
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What makes a beer great for me is if I like it. If I dont' then I don't drink it.


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Old 01-18-2013, 10:14 PM   #23
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Agree with most everyone above. A great beer can be a great beer and not fit its style guidelines. And the notions of hoppy=better is the same for high abv=better, at least it seems on sites like BeerAdvocate. However, when you're looking at BJCP competitions, that's irrelevant since you're competing as much against style guidelines as other beers. The last competition I entered, my Wee Heavy scored very well and took second in category, but the beer that beat it for first in category was 60 shilling.

And while competition judging is supposed to be objective, there's still subjectivity. Someone else nailed it- if the judges have preconceived notions of the style and yours don't fit it, you won't do well. With something like an IPA where they're a dime a dozen, I wouldn't see that happening too severely. But with something a little more obscure like an Old Ale, I could see a judge only having tried one or two commercial versions, which may or may not be the best representations, and yours may not line up with them, even if it's still in style. And if a judge hasn't had a proper commercial version, and is just going on what the guidelines say, then it's up to how said judge interprets guidelines. In the comments on the above Wee Heavy, one judge besmirched the lack of smoke. Smoke is an OPTIONAL characteristic of the style. But if that judge sees it in the guidelines, and all the commercial versions that judge has had have had a smoked character, they're going to expect it.

So yeah. Wait for the score sheets. See what they say. And then either they're right or they're wrong. And enter it elsewhere and see if other judges say the same.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:29 PM   #24
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So it seems to me that some people here think I'm crying and whining because I wasn't voted prettiest girl at the party and that I feel the judges personally victimized me at the competition. That's just ridiculous. If you reread the title of the thread and the first sentence, it was really intended to be more of a semantic debate.

Obviously if my beer didn't win, it wasn't the "best." I have no illusions of grandeur that I'm going to be the next Jamil or whatever.

But it was f*&%ing delicious.

So thus the debate, can a beer truly be "great" if it doesn't medal? Or are competitions just petty dick waggling contests?


Especially the post below. No need to be such an ass, you're turning my simple question into a personal attack. Take a deep breath.

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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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Old 01-18-2013, 10:39 PM   #25
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It's all about brewing to style.
Turn to page 213 in Brewing Like a Monk and read what Gordon Strong wrote, he sums it up much better than the whole thread combined. My interpetation of what he wrote is...

Well that is what competitions are interpetations, by humans, which are fallible by nature. Right?
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:39 PM   #26
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And Yooper - You really think I didn't even read the style guidelines? Come on now :-P
Oh, no- I know you did! I was just pointing out those two areas- how they are VERY specific on the aroma, and flavor. That is exactly what the judges are told to look for, and if it's lacking any part of those exact flavors your beer will not score as well.


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because competition don't end at scoring. scoring well is what gets you to the finalists' table. once you're in the final show-down, it comes down to which beer the judges like best. if you're at that table, you've already proven that you've brewed to style. it will come down to what the judges feel are the best beers, without looking at a scoresheet.
That's exactly correct! The BOS round is the best of the best, and I've seen a great kolsch win BOS over a very good Flanders red. The BOS round may boil down to preferences in that a "great beer" may win over a "very good beer" by taste, but we are still all looking for the beer to excel in it's style.

Remember that you "place" from the style. You get a ribbon or are awarded a place from that. The BOS medals are an additional round for the whole competition.

There is no way a high scoring beer that places first in its category wouldn't get a ribbon in its style even if it doesn't win best of show!
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:45 PM   #27
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So thus the debate, can a beer truly be "great" if it doesn't medal? Or are competitions just petty dick waggling contests?
In short, yes. You can have an amazing, world class, fantastic tasting beer.

But if it's entered as a Russian Imperial Stout, but tastes and looks like a cream ale, you will not score well at all.

Brewing competitions are all about brewing to style. For specialty beers, there are some wild and crazy beers in there, and even then a "base beer style" should be specific.

I did well in the specialty category once. I tried to make an Arrogant Bastard clone, but really had poor efficiency (like 54%!) The beer tasted really good, though, and so I entered it as an "Imperial Amber Ale". It scored well, in the 40s, and I got good feedback. Had I entered it as an Arrogant Bastard type beer, though, I would have bombed.

If your beer is a classic example of an Old Ale, then you should be incensed that it did poorly. But if it's a great and amazing beer, but not exactly to the style guidelines, then you could still pat yourself on the back.

When you get your scoresheets back, you'll know more.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:45 PM   #28
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Yes, a beer can be great and not medal. It happens all the time. It doesn't even have to be a style issue, either. I have had a beer score a 40 in competition and not even get an honorable mention, because there were 4-5 other beers in the same category that were also great.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:13 PM   #29
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Regardless of the whole "great beer not medaling" debate, it is worth mentioning that entering English style beers in most competitions is basically a roll of the dice. The vast majority (I would even say 90%) of beer judges have never had English beer in its real element and have skewed perceptions of what it should taste like; as from drinking crap US commercial attempts or old/oxidized bottles that end up on our beer shelves.

The quality of judging for the English styles has become so appallingly poor that I don't even bother trying to produce authentic English beers for comps any more. Just ferment it at 72F to get lots of fruity esters, use no aroma hops, and stuff the thing full of dark crystal malts so the judges can't complain about the beer not having enough caramel flavor. High bitterness and some oxidation helps too. Basically, the more your beer tastes like an old bottle of Fullers ESB, the better. And if your brewing a mild, make a robust porter and just water it down to an appropriate alcohol percentage. Simple.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:20 PM   #30
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I personally don't brew for competitions at all. I brew beers that I want to drink, and then if a competition is coming around that I feel like entering, I will enter one of those beers in an appropriate category.

That said, I have judged English styles in competition and if you think fruity, bitter, oxidized, overly caramelly beer should score well then I'm sorry you don't have a better pool of judges in your area.


If I deliberately brewed crap like that for a competition, I'd have to figure out what to do with the other 4.5 gallons of crappy beer left over.


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