competitions and disappointment

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LouBrew13

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If this comes off as arrogant, that isn't my intention at all.

I've been drinking craft brews from breweries and small brew pubs for years. I truly believe I have a palate for good beer and have also tried some that I wasn't impressed with.

I've been brewing beers for 3 years now and with the exception of occasional duds I've been really pleased by what I can turn out. My friends, family and colleagues really enjoy them and I get great feedback from my brew clubs.

I've competed with several brews and received a medal once but get consistent good scores.

The last 2 comps though, no medals at all with what I truly thought were quality beers. I'm bummed and just wanted to vent I guess. Score sheets haven't been sent back yet so I don't know what happened. Either the competition out there is great or I'm going backwards. But I believe my beers have gotten better with my increased knowledge from this site.

Just want to be cheered up.

Anybody else down on comps?
 

dpatrickv

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Im the opposite, I just got the score sheets back from my last comp and my lowest was a 32 and highest was a 44 for the 6 beers I entered.

I wouldn't get too down on yourself till you get the scoresheets back and see the scores and comments.
 

jeffjm

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These things happen. You don't know the condition of your entries when they were poured, the mindset of the judges, the quality of the other entries in your category, how the ordering of the beers in the flight affected the judges palates...all sorts of things you can't control affect scoring. I've had the same beer from the same batch score 15 points differently in successive weekends.

Even if you wound up with a horrible score, if you then get good feedback and have kept good notes, you'll be able to improve quite a bit with the next batch. The most I've learned from any of my entries this year came from a beer that scored a 21.
 

funnycreature

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This might be the reason why I don't even dare entering competitions :D I like my beer, everyone around me does, so do I really need a medal? But I'd be interested to taste homebrews that get high scores since I strongly believe I can improve a lot. :tank:
 
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I don't want to dissuade you from entering competitions or anything, but there's a lot that can go wrong. I mean, hopefully you get a judge that knows their stuff, doesn't have palate fatigue, is in a good mood, enjoys the style and isn't just going through the motions, has a proper pour, maybe the judge had a bunch of better beers before yours and they score lower and lower, etc. There's a host of other things to consider...maybe the beer tastes good as a beer, but the judge is more experienced in how it should taste according to style guidelines. You might have some experience in the style, but they might not be the same experiences that the judge has. Maybe the beer isn't as good as you thought it was. There's too many things to pinpoint one. What sucks about competitions is that not everyone is going to be a winner, that's why they're competitive. You're not always going to get good scores.

The important thing is to get back to the basics of why you brew in the first place. Do you enjoy brewing or is it all about competitions? Knock out two birds with one stone and re-brew the beer. Don't get down, get brewing. Take a look at some award winning recipes and try brewing them. Get a friend or your club to brew the same recipe and compare notes. Or, forgo thinking about competitions and brew something just for kicks.
 
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LouBrew13

LouBrew13

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I love brewing for many reasons and actually think about it constantly. I'm just disappointed. Like finding out your adorable baby is really ugly.

But I don't feel biased. I've hated some of my beers because they tasted awful. I've loved others that were tasty. I would never say that my beer is perfect but I'd pay 5 bucks a pint for it if I were at a brew pub.
 

Braufessor

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I think the biggest thing with competitions is that you have to kind of average out all the feedback you get. You have to ignore the extremes - both good and bad. You are not as good as your best competition and you are not as bad as your worst.

When I had 6 different judges, in 3 different competitions tell me that my pilsner needed more hops..... by god, I put more hops in it. When I then had a pilsner score between 39-41 in 4 different comps, win twice, medal twice more...... and then score a 23 in a 5th comp. with the comment of "cloudy" and "undrinkable"..... I ignored it and chalked it up to a mistake on their part - Pretty hard to get cloudy beer when filling from a keg with crystal clear beer.

Lots of things factor in - as others have mentioned. Shipping, bad fill on your part, temperature, handling, experience of judge, what beer you are following, and just plain luck. Plus, you can have a real nice tasting beer, and if it does not quite meet some of the style guidelines - you are going to get dinged and you are not going to place. simple as that.

I have had the same experience as you - you just got to sort through the feedback and look for the consistent suggestions from the most experienced judges and use that to improve. Overall, I would say that the feedback I have gotten has been quite useful. But there are still times where I feel like I had a beer that should have done better, or the judges did not provide great feedback - but that seems to be relatively uncommon.

How were your scores? Did you get those? Were the comps. big? Bigger than some of the others you have entered?
 
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LouBrew13

LouBrew13

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I'm picking up the score sheets in 2 weeks at the Michigan home brewer festival. I know it was a big comp. I'll see the results then and hopefully find out why I didn't place.
 

Johnnyhitch1

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I'm picking up the score sheets in 2 weeks at the Michigan home brewer festival. I know it was a big comp. I'll see the results then and hopefully find out why I didn't place.
You didnt place for the sheer reasons everyones been mentioning.

Dont take it so hard on yourself...shipping, temp, how they were poured, order of where u were in the flight, judges mindset, experience all come into play.

If you want a stone cold answer, you didnt place because judges thought there were better examples of the style than yours...does not mean at all that yours is bad or undrinkable. Just that someone took the style guidelines more to heart and hit it. Nothing to be upset or dissapointed by...

Be the best you can be, and if you think your doing the best you can....then dont sweat it. People have 10K$ brewing sculpures and can dial in a recipe to the exact T.

Take the comments you receive and rebrew the recipe with the tweaks, enter it into another comp and see how you do. Brewing is all about experimenting and seeing what works for your specific system.

Cheers!!

Edit: My 1,111 post! lol
 

RiverCityBrewer

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you can have a real nice tasting beer, and if it does not quite meet some of the style guidelines - you are going to get dinged and you are not going to place. simple as that.
I can't tell you how many beers I have judged that were awesome beers but in the wrong category. It usually comes about by a great base beer but has a listed special ingredient in it but is entered in the base category and not specialty. To the OP - good luck in future comps, hopefully your score sheets give you excellent feedback.
 

OldWorld

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Save your beer and entry fees. Awards don't mean squat. If you want to get revenge on the contests I suggest buying a commercial craft brew. Scrape the label. Use sandpaper to remove any labels on the bottle cap...

Let's see what kind of comments the judges will make against well established pro breweries.

The finest breweries of Germany and Belgium don't need stupid medals to be legendary. They simply are.

Don't get too upset. The BJCP and the folks who run it are class act jerks. They simply want to make money. It's a stupid protocol if you are entering a competition with BJCP rules you might as well send em a bottle of budweiser for the lager category because it fits all the style guidelines.

Seriously, friends don't let friends BJCP...You can have all the taste in the world but if your beer is a shade darker or lighter, it will be inferior in some way.
 

OldWorld

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Don't misquote me RiverCity...I never said BJCP volunteers.

The BJCP judge certification program requires money. They charge to be tested. Do I need to pay to prove my subjective expertise?
 

Wynne-R

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Wow. How often do you see a post that gets EVERYTHING wrong?

If you hate competitions, then stay away. Making up stuff about people that care is messed up.

Two quick fun facts:

BJCP is non-profit. I’m not sure ANYONE gets paid. If you think spending your Saturday filling out scoresheets for free lunch is ‘in it for the money’ you’re seriously deluded.

Commercial breweries have competitions too.
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Different judges have differing perceptions of flavor, but in the end, picking the winners is not that hard. You can have a great beer and not even place. Those last few points are very hard to get.

If you could sample a flight, you’d see it’s not as subjective as you’d imagine. Or, out of an abundance of ignorance, you could sit on the sidelines and complain.

The process is not flawless, but it’s pretty damn good. It’s as good as we can make it.
 

betarhoalphadelta

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I've been brewing since 2006 and competing since 2007. The beers that were winning medals for me in 2007 probably wouldn't place today. I just had an IPA not place in the L.A.County fair that IMHO was better than the IPA that made me a national finalist in the 2007 LongShot. IMHO the state of homebrewing has been raised significantly over that time frame.

You may still score well but there were just better beers in the flight. Or, as others have pointed out, any number of subjective factors could have gotten your beer dinged while another won a medal.

Just keep at it, and keep looking for any way you can to improve.
 

RiverCityBrewer

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I don't have to misquote you, its pretty clear what you said.

I just don't see why you are hung up on it... any competition costs money to put on, and every competition has rules... big deal. This applies if I'm entering BBQ in a comp or running 1/4 mile on my bike.
 

Braufessor

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I think competitions have their place. If you are purely looking at comps. and medals to fulfill your brewing, then you are probably doing it wrong. However, I disagree with Oldworld. I think there is a fair amount that you can gain from competitions. I brewed for over 15 years before ever entering a competition. In the year and a half that I have entered beers, I think I have learned more about brewing and my beers than I ever had before. Comps. have helped me become a better brewer. Not that you have to be a slave to style guidelines or anything, but if you can't brew a good beer to a style, it is a hell of a lot harder to brew a good beer that is not in a particular style. As they say, you have to learn the rules before you can break the rules.

So, keep at it. Enter comps as you see fit. Take the feedback and apply it where it seems to make sense, and try to use it to improve as a brewer. If you "Win" along the way - that is a bonus.
 

northcal

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Don't even worry about it, Lou. Do you know any bjcp judges? I do, I "trained" with some. They don't want money, most of them are good well-meaning guys, but they do like to drink free beer. So, if your beer was towards the end of the tasting, they could have been under an influence and not on their A game. Or, more likely, there were lots of new people judging that got influenced by a person with more "experience". That's how it goes.

I quit entering competitions about 2 years into brewing (that was maybe 8 years ago), I could care less what judges think, I just like making and sharing the brew with friends and family.

Best,
 

highgravitybacon

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Beer competitions aren't ranked on scores, either. It's a dirty little secret in the beer competition world. They are based on arbitrary, subjective criteria. What was a "first place beer" might have scored a 42. You could have scored a 46 and gotten third. That's why competitions don't show you the score tally. BJCP competitions are the only competition of its type that won't release the scores of competitors and won't medal according to score. So basically, you could have a "world class beer" based on score and still lose out to a beer that isn't "world class" depending on the judges.
 
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LouBrew13

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I have some bjcp judges in my brew clubs. I've been attending meetings with different beers for awhile now looking for feedback. I've had some good some bad which is great for me. Some guys bring their drain dumpers to share but I never have done that.

If there's a flaw I'd like to know so it doesn't happen again.

I'm my biggest critic actually and if I don't like a beer I've brewed I'll be the first to say it.

I'll admit that my heavily hopped Amarillo wheat (a la gumball head) wasn't to style. So I'm interested in hearing if that was a down fall. But it was delicious.
 

Braufessor

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Beer competitions aren't ranked on scores, either. It's a dirty little secret in the beer competition world. They are based on arbitrary, subjective criteria. What was a "first place beer" might have scored a 42. You could have scored a 46 and gotten third. That's why competitions don't show you the score tally. BJCP competitions are the only competition of its type that won't release the scores of competitors and won't medal according to score. So basically, you could have a "world class beer" based on score and still lose out to a beer that isn't "world class" depending on the judges.
I don't know if it is a "dirty little secret." It is kind of a matter of practicality. If you have 30 beers in a category - you can't have the same judges taste all 30 of them. So, 3 sets of judges score 10 each and move the best couple on to be tasted head to head. So, yes, the subjective scores may vary, but when it comes time to compare head to head - you still want the best beers in the correct order. My guess (and I am not a judge) is that within a judging group, the beer scores probably reflect the order the judges placed them - with the best beer getting the best score. It is more likely when there is a "mini BOS" that you can get the "lower scoring" beer beating the "higher scoring" beer.

It would be like a gymnastics contest where 3 sets of 10 gymnasts competed in different venues, in front of different judges..... they all get their scores - but you still want to see them head to head, with the same judges putting them in order to determine who the top 3 are.

Sure, there is subjectivity to it all..... but what is the alternative.
 

Darwin18

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I've competed with several brews and received a medal once but get consistent good scores.

The last 2 comps though, no medals at all with what I truly thought were quality beers. I'm bummed and just wanted to vent I guess. Score sheets haven't been sent back yet so I don't know what happened. Either the competition out there is great or I'm going backwards. But I believe my beers have gotten better with my increased knowledge from this site.

Just want to be cheered up.

Anybody else down on comps?
See what the feedback has to say before you get too down on yourself. It's possible that the flights that your entries were in were larger and competitive, and even a good score isn't always enough to place. Also consider the regional differences if you're submitting entries to non-local competitions. Take the feedback constructively and try to build on it. It could be something as simple as the recipe not being "good enough" and not necessarily the fault of the brewer. Don't give up though.

I like to brew mostly to style and try to enter every other beer into a local or state wide competition. I like the feedback and the ribbons are a nice validation. Still, I don't always have entries that will place or score well. I had a competition earlier in the year where I entered 3 beers, all 3 scored in the 40's, and all three won their category. Those same three beers scored in the mid-20's for the NHC competition. Once you ship that entry off, it's completely out of your hands. Its up to the competition to store it correctly and present it at a correct temperature to the judges. Hopefully the competition didn't overwhelm the judges with huge flights so that they can really focus on a small sub-set of beers in front of them.

Save your beer and entry fees. Awards don't mean squat. If you want to get revenge on the contests I suggest buying a commercial craft brew. Scrape the label. Use sandpaper to remove any labels on the bottle cap...

Let's see what kind of comments the judges will make against well established pro breweries.

The finest breweries of Germany and Belgium don't need stupid medals to be legendary. They simply are.

Don't get too upset. The BJCP and the folks who run it are class act jerks. They simply want to make money. It's a stupid protocol if you are entering a competition with BJCP rules you might as well send em a bottle of budweiser for the lager category because it fits all the style guidelines.

Seriously, friends don't let friends BJCP...You can have all the taste in the world but if your beer is a shade darker or lighter, it will be inferior in some way.
Wow.

I didn't realize I had joined the Illuminati when I joined the BJCP. Most of the BJCP people that I've met and judged with (ok, all of them) are knowledgeable and friendly folks who are looking to help and give back a bit to the brewing community. There is nothing dark or sinister to it. We're not paid, although maybe we should be. A couple weeks ago I got at up 0530 and drove 1.5 hours to judge without any financial reimbursement or incentives beyond a free lunch. This is fairly common for BJCP judges to do.

If you're looking for "revenge" on a competition then it sounds like perhaps you got your feelings hurt in a competition. Most homebrewers, especially early in the hobby, are guilty of what I call "ugly baby syndrome". You think your beer is the best, it's great, but really it's laden with off-flavors and it hurts when that gets pointed out to you when you enter a competition. There are two ways to deal with that. You can take the criticism constructively, build upon it, re-enter, score better, and possibly take home a ribbon, or you can cry about it. You seem like you're in the later group.

If you don't like that your entry is judged to style then perhaps you should stick to competitions that are completely subjective. There are plenty of those where the crowd picks the winner. There are also plenty of examples where an entrant will pack the crowd with his friends and supporters to win "people's choice". The BJCP isn't perfect but it's certainly better than any other alternative out there.
 

jeffjm

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Braufessor is dead on. Small categories that can be judged by one set of judges usually go in score order. It's the larger categories that need a mini-bos where results may not line up with scores.

One thing that is true 99% of the time is that the best beers rise to the top. You might argue whether the first place beer was actually the second best entry, but there is no question they were both among the best.
 

Darwin18

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I don't know if it is a "dirty little secret." It is kind of a matter of practicality. If you have 30 beers in a category - you can't have the same judges taste all 30 of them. So, 3 sets of judges score 10 each and move the best couple on to be tasted head to head. So, yes, the subjective scores may vary, but when it comes time to compare head to head - you still want the best beers in the correct order. My guess (and I am not a judge) is that within a judging group, the beer scores probably reflect the order the judges placed them - with the best beer getting the best score. It is more likely when there is a "mini BOS" that you can get the "lower scoring" beer beating the "higher scoring" beer.

It would be like a gymnastics contest where 3 sets of 10 gymnasts competed in different venues, in front of different judges..... they all get their scores - but you still want to see them head to head, with the same judges putting them in order to determine who the top 3 are.

Sure, there is subjectivity to it all..... but what is the alternative.
Yep, that sums that up nicely. There is no way that you're going to get the same set of judges to judge the same 30 beers in a flight and end up with quality feedback. The competition organizer will usually split that flight up between a couple sets of judges, they'll score and provide feedback for the beers in their flights, and the highest scoring beers within each mini-flight (usually it's an arbitrary number) will go on to mini-BOS where they'll be judged strictly on taste and consensus winners will be determined.

Frankly, I think that is way better and much more fair to all the entrants than strictly assigning finishes based on scores when the flight has been broken up and judged by separate judging groups. Some judges tend to score higher while others score lower. Participating in a mini-BOS is a lot of fun too as you get to discuss what you're tasting with everyone. Usually it's easy to pick out the top 3 but the final order is generally up for debate.
 

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I've seen a 30.5 get Best of Show. I've seen a 42 not place in a category. I've had the same cider get Best of Show in one comp and in another get a 20 for being "not to style" . . . in Specialty Cider. That one got 3rd place in it's category and Best of Show in the same competition. I've had a Braggot that the judges were treating "may have" flavors as "must have". I've seen a Wee Heavy flight served at about 40 degrees. I've seen the descriptions for specialty beer get lost in the software and the hottest chili beer that I've ever tasted was 3rd in the flight. I've tasted a beer that was the best in the flight, but because it was not quite to style it got 4th. I've seen a judge admit that he hated a particular category five minutes before judging it.

Your club is usually a better judge than a competition result. Sometimes you can get good tips from a score sheet. Sometimes they are useless and hopeless. Sometimes a beer can be good overall if you're just drinking it, but when drinking it while looking at a style sheet you can see flaws. I've made a Baltic Porter like that. Great if I was just drinking it. The mouthfeel was off, the carbonation wasn't correct, it was a bit dry. A good beer that would never be competitive.

Until you get the score sheets back, you can't know anything about the judges, what competition you were up against, whether they got a bad bottle, etc. Even with the sheets, you can't know many of the details of serving, judges preferences, etc.
 

Beerrific

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Winning a BJCP competition and having a great beer are two different things. In some cases these can and are one in the same, many times they are not.

Also, I am not sure what gives people the impression that once someone is BJCP they are no longer human.
 

LKABrewer

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I don't enter competitions to win medals. I enter competitions to see how my beers compare to the best beers of the style and to get unbiased feedback to make my beers and my brewing process better. If you continue to improve you will win medals, though. Since I started entering competitions a couple of years ago, my beers have gotten MUCH better.
 

jonmohno

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Its hit or miss with judging. If you had blind tastings between many judges on your beer and compared your scores and comments,they can be all over the place sometimes. The one I entered I was happy with the scores but some of the differences betweeen the likes of palates between the judges seemed almost opposite and varied. But I do feel Ive learned or could associate with the evalutations so I know I know a thing or two about brewing as well since I first started. I thought the beer I had entered was pretty fantastic even though I was suspicious of an infection on that batch and one judge commented it was good but just didnt like the hop choices I used. I also had thought about entering one of my maybe not so great beers to see how well it does.
 

Phunhog

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I've been brewing since 2006 and competing since 2007. The beers that were winning medals for me in 2007 probably wouldn't place today. I just had an IPA not place in the L.A.County fair that IMHO was better than the IPA that made me a national finalist in the 2007 LongShot. IMHO the state of homebrewing has been raised significantly over that time frame.

You may still score well but there were just better beers in the flight. Or, as others have pointed out, any number of subjective factors could have gotten your beer dinged while another won a medal.

Just keep at it, and keep looking for any way you can to improve.
+1.....I have heard numerous times from experienced judges that the beers are getting better and better. It's getting harder and harder, not to mention more subjective, to place in larger comps. Completely possible to have 4 or 5 beers be in the high 30's and not place.
 

hoperific

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Save your beer and entry fees. Awards don't mean squat. If you want to get revenge on the contests I suggest buying a commercial craft brew. Scrape the label. Use sandpaper to remove any labels on the bottle cap...

Let's see what kind of comments the judges will make against well established pro breweries.
Have you looked at the myriad of commercial calibration beers on the AHA site judged by four grand master judges? The scores vary widely. This goes to show that even commercial beers can score very high or very low depending on how close the beer is to the BJCP style, how fresh the bottle is, etc. Have you ever had an old bottle of a commercial beer taste stale and crappy? Every bottle from a commercial brewery isn't liquid gold, and not all commercial beers would be high scoring beers. I've judged in comps with all commercial beers, and they run the gamut of scores as well. So, I think your point is ridiculous, as others have pointed out.

Also, the BJCP style guidelines were made for home brewers, not commercial beers. Pro breweries have the Brewer's Association guidelines when they enter competitions. So many beers now have icons on them with "Gold medal GABF 2012" or something like that, so there is some importance to the competitions. Pro brewers notoriously brew what they want. They are not trying to brew a certain style, which also complicates things.

I think when you say "what kind of comments the judges will make against well established pro breweries." says a ton. I have never known any BJCP judge to make a comment AGAINST a beer. Everything I write is aimed at providing feedback to help the brewer improve, based on my perceptions of the beer. Against is such a negative word and I think using that word is a view of judging that is 100% wrong. But I suppose some individuals are unable to take feedback as constructive criticism and could view a judge listing faults as commenting "against" their ugly child beer rather than saying how can I use this feedback to brew this better next time. Now, not all judges are perfect and we all have good and bad days. But to say that judges are trying to make negative comments against a beer is just plain silly.
 
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LouBrew13

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Ok I received my site sheets finally and overall they weren't bad...32, 34.5, and 33.

My Belgian dark strong had no flaws but no specific notes to say what should change.

My sweet stout was a little too sweet so I need more hop ibus to balance it more.

My Amarillo wheat had a plastic aroma with one judge but the other noted to citrus aroma only.

So I guess I'll take whatever constructive criticism I can and move forward to improve these brews.

I'm my defense I really enjoy all 3 and am proud of how they came out. But they could improve I suppose.
 

Darwin18

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Ok I received my site sheets finally and overall they weren't bad...32, 34.5, and 33.

My Belgian dark strong had no flaws but no specific notes to say what should change.

My sweet stout was a little too sweet so I need more hop ibus to balance it more.

My Amarillo wheat had a plastic aroma with one judge but the other noted to citrus aroma only.

So I guess I'll take whatever constructive criticism I can and move forward to improve these brews.

I'm my defense I really enjoy all 3 and am proud of how they came out. But they could improve I suppose.
Any score 30 or above is generally a very good score regardless of whether they placed or not. Sounds like your entries were solid and might just need minor tweaking to get them from very good to excellent.
 

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I've entered one of my beers into a contest...I and everybody I brew with and anybody who tried it loved it! Got my results from the competition and they said it tasted like cardboard and wet newspaper. I was discouraged and had one bottle left that I was going to age so I tried it...tasted amazing still. I'm going to chalk it up to the fact that I had to mail it to the competition and something got muffed up there. The other thing is the only people who placed in the competition were members of their homebrew club... Lesson learned for me is to forget competitions, I like my beer, my friends like my beer that's all that matters(may still try and enter one more if I can find one around me where I can hand deliver my product)
 

Darwin18

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Sounds like text book oxidation. Either you got unlucky with a bottle or it was shipped/packaged/handled improperly. Don't give up on competitions - it's a good way to see where you compare and will help you improve as a brewer.
 

Braufessor

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I've entered one of my beers into a contest.... Lesson learned for me is to forget competitions
Not that you "have to" enter your beers in competitions by any means. But, I don't know if this is a lesson to forget competitions. To me, it sounds like a less on to enter BETTER competitions..... especially since you live in wisconsin and there are some excellent competitions in the area for you. I have found the ones run by the "Beer Barons" to be particularly well done. Midwinter, germanfest are both really well done. Also, some of the ones in minnesota have impressed me as well - Great Northern Brew-ha-ha and Upper Mississippi Mashout were both well run. Find bigger, more established comps...... if it is something that still intrigues you.
 

tnlandsailor

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Don't forget that beer judging follows the "dog show" model. It's not that your beer is or isn't great, it's all about matching and conforming to the style guidelines. The real bugaboo in judging is the judges actually interpreting the guidelines. Rant to follow.

I have been a BJCP judge for about 6 years. I judge by the book. I do not invent my own interpretations of any particular style - even if it's a style that I brew often or if I like a particular commercial example. If the guidelines say "may have dactyl" or "some fruity esters are acceptable", then that's what it means. But I've sat at many tables where a judge never even looked at the written guidelines. One example - I judged IPA at nationals one year and sat in with a National Judge who was the senior judge at my table. It was just the two of us for the first 5 beers or so. She never even looked at the written guidelines and told me in no uncertain terms, "I brew a lot of IPA and I know what IPA is supposed to taste like". It was probably the most unpleasant judging experience of my life. Any disagreement resulted in her "pulling rank" on me even though I had the guidelines right in front of me. I finally got some justification when the third judge showed up and tended to side with me (while reading the guidelines I might add). In my experience, it is the higher ranking judges (some, certainly not all) that do this the most.

If the guidelines are wrong, fix them. They get revised all the time (about every couple of years). But a judge can't simply ignore them in favor of their own particular interpretation of the style. It happens more often than you think. End of rant.

Overall, I think the BJCP does a phenomenal job. The fact that we even have written style guidelines is amazing. But it's an imperfect system because people are involved. A great beer is still a great beer. It just may not be a great British Best, or a Northern English Brown. The BJCP and beer competitions in general are about conformity to a standard - just like the dog show. That's the name of the game, like it or not. Many brewers do not like to be confined to a standard. That's fine too. In that case, competitions are probably not for you.

One last thing, a competition is the one place where people can really tell you what they think about your beer. Face to face, it's a lot harder to give someone honest feedback. They pour their beer for you and watch you as you taste it. More often than not, your response is "hey, that's pretty good". If there are flaws they are usually pretty tempered. Only an anonymous judging will really tell you about your beer. Blind judging at the club level is a really good exercise. I have found that my friends and family think my beer is fabulous mostly because they can drink for free.
 

kombat

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The other thing is the only people who placed in the competition were members of their homebrew club.
I can't tell if you're implying that there was some sort of favoritism being applied, or if the winning beers were simply better by virtue of the fact that they were brewed by people more active in the brewing community, and thus more likely to produce good beers. But in case it's the former, my understanding is that the judging is blind. That is, the judges would have no idea whose beer they were judging - yours, or their buddy's from their homebrew club - until after they'd already assigned a score and selected a winner.
 

tnlandsailor

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I can't tell if you're implying that there was some sort of favoritism being applied, or if the winning beers were simply better by virtue of the fact that they were brewed by people more active in the brewing community, and thus more likely to produce good beers. But in case it's the former, my understanding is that the judging is blind. That is, the judges would have no idea whose beer they were judging - yours, or their buddy's from their homebrew club - until after they'd already assigned a score and selected a winner.
Also realize that local beers won't suffer from travel hazards. The locals always have the advantage of local drop off. They can keep beer cold the entire time, bottle the day before it's due, and transport it with very little trauma to the bottle.
 

Darwin18

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Also realize that local beers won't suffer from travel hazards. The locals always have the advantage of local drop off. They can keep beer cold the entire time, bottle the day before it's due, and transport it with very little trauma to the bottle.
That is a big advantage that shouldn't be taken too lightly. I like to enter competitions that are part of circuit that have local drop offs throughout the state. We have the Carolina brewer of the year circuit where you can drop off bottles locally at certain hubs and they'll be brought to the competition. Seems safer (and saves $$$) than sending them on by UPS.
 
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