BJCP Style for my Not-Brewed-To-Style Beer

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

AlexKay

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
793
Reaction score
1,406
Location
South Bend
I had a recipe feedback post on this beer, but now that it is brewed and good, I'm thinking about entering it in a competition. The question is, what category best fits it? Here's the recipe (2.5-gallon batch):

4 lbs. malted oats
2 lbs. pale malt
2 lbs. Munich
1 lbs. flaked oats
0.5 lb Crystal 77L
0.5 lb chocolate
0.5 lb chocolate rye
4 oz. cacao nibs, extracted in vodka and added (nibs and vodka both) @ 7 days.

10 g Magnum (10.6% AA) @ 60 min.
10 g Talus (8.7% AA) @ 15 min.
10 g Talus (8.7% AA) @ 0 min.

11 g Danstar Nottingham @ 64 F.
OG: 1.088

I put the recipe together thinking it would be a "chocolate oatwine," and maybe it is, or maybe it's an imperial oatmeal stout. In terms of taste, it's very smooth, roasty, and (pleasantly) alcoholic. Oats are very present in taste and mouthfeel. Chocolate is subtle, but no one would miss it; on the other hand, much of the chocolate could be from the malt, and relatively little from the nibs.

So what category? I'm thinking one possibility is 31A (Alternative Grain Beer); base style 17D (English Barleywine). But it doesn't really have a dark-crystal fruitiness to it, and there's nothing like an English-style hops flavor. Also, this sweeps the chocolate under the rug (but that might be ok). Or is this 34C (Experimental)?
 

grampamark

“That’s what”.—She
HBT Supporter
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
12,675
Reaction score
31,669
Location
The Frozen Tundra/The Magic City
Other than not being quite hoppy enough, it’s pretty close to an American Porter, 20A.
3A38039A-E766-4C12-BE3E-4E2449EC7A8C.png
 

grampamark

“That’s what”.—She
HBT Supporter
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
12,675
Reaction score
31,669
Location
The Frozen Tundra/The Magic City
I should have asked your batch size in my previous reply. If you leave out the two chocolate malts, and triple your hops at each addition, you end up within the style guidelines for 17D. With the chocolate additions one of the specialty categories might be a better fit.
6FC6005A-515C-4B6A-8D0E-599648DC97F7.png

If you’re going to build recipes I highly recommend using brewing software. This image is from Beersmith 3. The blue bars represent the range for each parameter in the style guidelines for the selected style. You can select a style and start adding ingredients, watching the changes on the graph as you go, or enter your ingredients and then change styles to see which style your recipe best fits.
 
OP
OP
A

AlexKay

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
793
Reaction score
1,406
Location
South Bend
So I’m gathering that 34C (Experimental) is the way to go? I’m assuming that unless the competition is extremely large, judging will combine this with other categories. Do experimental beers get a fair shake when up against things from more defined categories?

For what it’s worth, I enter competitions to answer the question, “does someone who knows something about beer think this one is good?” So I’m fine if this doesn’t win anything, but I’d like the feedback to be accurate.
 

dmtaylor

Lord Idiot the Lazy
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
5,132
Reaction score
3,882
Location
Two Rivers, WI
It's a Russian Imperial Stout. It is unlikely that the judges will be able to pick out or care that you used that much oats.

IMO, 34C should never ever ever be used. Something else ALWAYS comes close. In this case, RIS.
 
OP
OP
A

AlexKay

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
793
Reaction score
1,406
Location
South Bend
It's a Russian Imperial Stout. It is unlikely that the judges will be able to pick out or care that you used that much oats.

IMO, 34C should never ever ever be used. Something else ALWAYS comes close. In this case, RIS.
I like this idea. It does seem to fit. So, 20C, and figure the oats and the chocolate will just be part of the mess of flavors that style can take on? I like it.
 
OP
OP
A

AlexKay

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
793
Reaction score
1,406
Location
South Bend
You can enter the same beer in multiple categories/subcategories so if still in doubt do that.
I think I’m good with 20C (imperial stout); the barleywine idea isn’t a good one. The other thing would be 31A (alternative grain), base style 20C, but I’m already entering a roggenbock in 31A. Also, shipping costs (and shipping hassle) add up. If it gets good reviews but dinged on style, there are always other competitions.
 

CascadesBrewer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
2,093
Reaction score
1,930
Location
VA, USA
I think I’m good with 20C (imperial stout)

I would taste your beer while reading the style guidelines. (Beer Judge Certification Program) While the judges will be evaluating how "good" of a beer your have entered, their main focus is to evaluate if you created a good Imperial Stout. What color where your Chocolate and Chocolate rye? It is hard for me to imagine that this recipe would compete well in the Imperial Stout category. Maybe if the Chocolate was some of the 500L+ English versions.

My general advice for people that brewed a beer they enjoy using a mix of ingredients is to share it between yourself and your friends, but don't mess with entering it into a competition. I have several recipes that I brew that are wonderful beers, but I would never enter them into competitions because they don't fit a style. Informal club "People's Choice" type competitions are a good venue for these types of beers, but not so much BJCP competitions.
 
OP
OP
A

AlexKay

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
793
Reaction score
1,406
Location
South Bend
I would taste your beer while reading the style guidelines. (Beer Judge Certification Program) While the judges will be evaluating how "good" of a beer your have entered, their main focus is to evaluate if you created a good Imperial Stout. What color where your Chocolate and Chocolate rye? It is hard for me to imagine that this recipe would compete well in the Imperial Stout category. Maybe if the Chocolate was some of the 500L+ English versions.

My general advice for people that brewed a beer they enjoy using a mix of ingredients is to share it between yourself and your friends, but don't mess with entering it into a competition. I have several recipes that I brew that are wonderful beers, but I would never enter them into competitions because they don't fit a style. Informal club "People's Choice" type competitions are a good venue for these types of beers, but not so much BJCP competitions.
The chocolate is from Sugar Creek, 300-400 L, and the chocolate rye is Weyermann, so around 250 L. I think the nibs increase the bitter/roasty/astringent character somewhat, too. It's definitely on the side of moderate in terms of "moderate to aggressively high roasted malt/grain flavors." I've only had one beer from their list of commercial examples (Bell's Expedition) and it tastes absolutely nothing like that.

I'm going to give this a shot, and I will report back (will probably take two months or so) with how it fared. My local club is filled with people who are way too polite, even when I encourage them to be harsh; ditto for my friends. So BJCP competitions are where I get my feedback. Hopefully if it fails to match the style, I'll still get a "I liked this beer, but..." I've gotten that before.
 

dmtaylor

Lord Idiot the Lazy
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
5,132
Reaction score
3,882
Location
Two Rivers, WI
I think they might appreciate how smooth it is, due to the oats and the relatively low bitterness, which will make them think it was aged a long time but somehow miraculously has not oxidized significantly, and/or if they detect any oxidation, they'll see it as a plus instead of a minus. Assuming the beer was reasonably well made, I think it can score in mid to upper 30s with ease in this category.
 
OP
OP
A

AlexKay

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
793
Reaction score
1,406
Location
South Bend
Assuming the beer was reasonably well made, I think it can score in mid to upper 30s with ease in this category.
Hey, no pressure. I’d like to think it’s well made, though I’ve missed obvious flaws before. The oats and chocolate and crystal all seem to work well together. This is my second time using Talus; the first was a black IPA that didn’t really work, but this is spot on. It’s a very interesting hop.
 

Dgallo

Instagram: bantam_brews
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 15, 2017
Messages
5,618
Reaction score
11,998
Location
Albany
I don’t mean to be that guy, but I truly believe unless you brew a beer to a style, there’s reallly no point in entering because that what they will judge you on, the specific style. IMHO the only time you need to ask what style it should be added in is if you brew a base beer to style but then add some adjunct like fruit or vanilla, and are asking would the spiced or fruit beer category be a better option.

If you entering it purely for feedback, I feel you should just reach out to your local hb club to see if there is a certified judge in your area tht you could contact to try it.

I’ve entered quite a few beers in competition, and the feedback you receive with any merit (if you receive any) is always geared towards the specific style
 
Last edited:

dmtaylor

Lord Idiot the Lazy
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
5,132
Reaction score
3,882
Location
Two Rivers, WI
In truth, competitions and judges and judging are always a crapshoot. A great example of the style might go up against bad judges or a good judge having a bad day. Conversely I have had poor examples that get a silver or gold. So there's no telling what they might say. Furthermore, if you want great feedback, I always recommend entering each beer into at least 3 competitions. Inevitably, some score sheets will make a lot of sense, and about 40% of them will be utter crap. Throw the bad ones away and pretend they never happened. Now you've got your feedback that you can actually use to improve your brewing.
 
OP
OP
A

AlexKay

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
793
Reaction score
1,406
Location
South Bend
Ok, reporting back! It scored a 25.

I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I entered it as 20C, and it was judged under 20B (American Stout). Also, the judges said it was totally flat, and while carbonation was low, it was definitely perceptible when I bottled it.

I think the Talus hops threw them a bit; one judge called it a “big ol’ whollop of herbal-minty aroma — wild!” I don’t personally get mint from Talus, but no argument it’s a strange hop. Not to this style; probably not to many others.

Despite the oats, it was judged as thin-to-moderate in body. Dinged for not enough roast, as well as an “old coffee” flavor — maybe that’s the cacao? No one mentioned the high ABV.

I’m not entirely sure what I learned, to be honest, other than that my “wow, that’s delicious” reaction isn’t necessarily shared by others. Something about square pegs and round holes, maybe.

The beer has also improved significantly in the keg after a month; no idea if it matured similarly after bottling. I could conceivably enter it in other competitions, though at this point I may just bottle it up and send it to friends. Also might be worth waiting a few more months to see how it develops. This and a wheatwine are taking up two of my keezer taps, though, and I’m not sure how long I can deal with that.
 

CascadesBrewer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 24, 2013
Messages
2,093
Reaction score
1,930
Location
VA, USA
Ok, reporting back! It scored a 25.

25 can point towards "a beer with issues" or "a good beer that is not to style". It seemed like yours might be more the "not to style" example. It is odd they did not judge it in the category you specified though.

I would look for any feedback point at flaws that are not just style issues. In theory, carbonation is only a few points on the score sheet, but it tends to have a ripple effect on aroma, mouthfeel and taste scores. "Old Coffee" does not sound good (but maybe just because there is are unexpected ingredients in there).

If you did not, I would recommend you bottle off a couple extras. Put them in a room temp location and open one around the date of the judging and another when you get the score sheets back. Tasting your beer fresh off a cold conditioned keg is nice, but that is not what the judges are tasting. I would also pour a few ounces in a small cup and really dig in looking for flaws. Focusing on a small sample can often be very different than drinking a full glass.
 

dmtaylor

Lord Idiot the Lazy
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
5,132
Reaction score
3,882
Location
Two Rivers, WI
In truth, competitions and judges and judging are always a crapshoot. A great example of the style might go up against bad judges or a good judge having a bad day. Conversely I have had poor examples that get a silver or gold. So there's no telling what they might say. Furthermore, if you want great feedback, I always recommend entering each beer into at least 3 competitions. Inevitably, some score sheets will make a lot of sense, and about 40% of them will be utter crap. Throw the bad ones away and pretend they never happened. Now you've got your feedback that you can actually use to improve your brewing.

:)

And it blows that they judged it to the wrong style. There's no excuse for that. Enter again somewhere else. It may score better.
 
Top