Originally Posted by cryhav0c
I don't see how these can possibly compare. The playing field seems uneven.
I guess I can understand how you can come to that conclusion. But I"m a certified BJCP judge. I've had wonderful extract beers win/place in competition- and of course we didn't know they were extract beers as the judges have no way of knowing that. I've had some really awful AG beers.
It's not like an extract batch (or partial mash) is a can of spaghettio's entered in an Italian recipe contest. There is much more to it than that!
Think of it this way- the only thing an extract brewer is doing is using the extract instead of two-row. That's it. Sure, he/she skips the mashing process, but temperature control, fresh ingredients, yeast pitching rate, water quality, etc are the most important part anyway.
I sort of think of extract brewing (assuming some specialty grains) as making spaghetti sauce out of canned tomatoes and sauce, but adding spices and other ingredients to make the sauce. I've had some of the best spaghetti sauces made this way.
For AG, the process would be the same, except a guy starts with a bushel of tomatoes. I"ve done this, by the way! It could be much better, but much more could go wrong and it could be worse. I've made great sauce this way, but it takes more equipment (to peel the tomatoes and things) and more time.
The real contest, then, is the flavor. I mean, when I go to a restaurant I don't really care if the spaghetti sauce was made the old fashioned (canned) way if you're my grandma, or from a bushel of tomatoes. I care about the taste.
The same is true of brewing. I"ve had bad beers of all sorts over the years- even in commercial brewpubs. I'd rather have a great beer, no matter how the brewer got there, than all of those bad ones.
It really takes great skill to make a kick-ass extract brew, so I'd give kudos to that brewer.
The first HBT competition we had, a partial mash beer won the BOS (or was it the second BOS?). Anyway, he won kegging gear, beating out over 300 other entries. I'd say the pool of beers we submitted (me included) were pretty darn good, so if he beat my AG beer, then that's awesome.