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DrummerBoySeth

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I just received the score sheets from my first ever homebrew competition. I entered 3 recipes. They were a Belgian Tripel, a Witbier/Saison hybrid, and a RIS with Bourbon, oak, and vanilla. All 3 were extract brews, and were recipes that I developed on my own.

The 2 Belgians scored 27 and 30 on the BJCP 50 point scale. Not too bad for my first competition ever, I thought.

What really surprised me, though was that the RIS scored 35. I am psyched! Both judges agreed that it was an excellent brew, but slightly over-oaked. I think I will be re-brewing this recipe with a little less oak and bourbon and submitting it for the spring competition.

So, folks, are 27,30, and 35 OK scores for a first time competitor, or am I just fooling myself here?
 

strambo

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Those are good scores. I only entered one, an American Wheat, I got a 30 and was happy. I got good feedback also. If I were you...I'd just age that RIS until Spring and submit the same one! The oak will mellow....
 

kylevester

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Brewing an RIS now and submitting for spring isn't optimal. An RIS needs upwards of 9 months aging to be at it's peak, if not longer. I second the suggestion of entering the same RIS (assuming you have some left) in the spring.

Those were good scores, btw. Look at the level of judge and grant a little more weight to the upper levels, to a point. Also, look at the comments carefully and give more weight to the one(s) who are actually providing good advice and are knowledgeable.

I've judged a couple times as a novice and had vastly different experiences with the guys I judged with. When I was judging the IPAs for the NHC first round, the guy I was with was convinced every single brew we judged was using New Zealand hops and I felt pressured to lower my scores on all the brews. My other experiences were much more positive and I was only talked down in scores when I was clearly wrong. I've kinda got a bad taste in my mouth from the NHC and the piss poor comments I've received on my competition entries (along with other members of my HBC). For example, the brews I did for the Indiana State Fair competition: The IPA judges gave me general comments and were quite off in their guesses of malts and hops; Gordon Strong gave me a pretty good score on a coffee stout I did and the other judge gave me a low score. I gave Gordon's comments much more weight than the other judge, for obvious reasons. A guy in my HBC submitted a beer that was a Zombie Dust clone recipe and used only Citra hops. The judging he received, on a very good brew, was low marks and a high ranking judge telling him to use more Citra hops. (Entering IPA is hazardous, btw, and can make you want to shoot a judge)
 

Sir Humpsalot

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I have heard others say that any score above 30 or 35 is potentially a blue-ribbon beer. Just keep entering it in competitions until you get the right mix of judges.
 
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DrummerBoySeth

DrummerBoySeth

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I would love to re-submit the same RIS, but all I have left are some flip-top bombers (grolsch bottles). I gave the judges my last two 12 ouncers for the competition. It is a quarterly competition, though, so I could re-brew and submit for the fall or winter round next year. I keep meticulous notes, so I should be able to reproduce the recipe pretty accurately.
 

TopherM

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I received 31 on my first competition brew, 27 on the second, and 35 on the third, so you are right on track :)
 

kylevester

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I have heard others say that any score above 30 or 35 is potentially a blue-ribbon beer. Just keep entering it in competitions until you get the right mix of judges.
That's been the case when I've judged. Some competitions require a 30 or better to get a medal. Generally, if you're getting a 35 or better, you've got a really good beer on your hands.
 

bknifefight

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Congrats! All of those are good scores, especially the 35 :)
 

AnchorBock

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It's good to enter the same beer in multiple competitions so you can look for common feedback and disregard one-off comments - from there you can adjust your recipe with confidence for a rebrew. Good job with those scores!
 

Phunhog

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Those are good scores for your first comp!! My first comp I scored a 20 and 21 for an American Amber and I was depressed for days! BUT it forced me to reexamine my process and now I routinely score in the high 30's to low 40's for most of my beers. Take competition though with a grain of salt....I have had beers medal in one comp and get low scores in another.
 

AnchorBock

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Those are good scores for your first comp!! My first comp I scored a 20 and 21 for an American Amber and I was depressed for days! BUT it forced me to reexamine my process and now I routinely score in the high 30's to low 40's for most of my beers. Take competition though with a grain of salt....I have had beers medal in one comp and get low scores in another.
I agree, there is plenty of subjectivity in competitions and tons of variables, but again with entering multiple competitions you should rule out some of the highs and lows and end up with a more realistic averaged score and consistent feedback to assess your process, recipe, etc.
 
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