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BrewDrinkRepeat

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We finally cracked the code in our club. We made it normal to ask people "do you want the truth?"
We did a similar thing, but we also try to make it clear to everyone that a club meeting is specifically for objective feedback on the beer(s) you brought. If all you want is praise, have your friends over to the house for a poker night or something. :)

Almost everyone understands and agrees...
 
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MHBT

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Both of these should be dealt with by the competition coordinator(s).

Someone who admits they can no longer taste or smell to the degree necessary to judge shouldn't be allowed to judge, plain and simple. If they took the exam today they would likely fail, so...

Speeding someone up is obviously harder (I say this as someone who is most definitely NOT the fastest judge in the room, but I write a TON so hopefully that helps!) but efforts should be made.
Exactly its like if you get really old you should not drive anymore except more important
 

BrewDrinkRepeat

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or judges using pencil,
Which is standard and highly recommended by the BJCP. There are some judges who write in pen, but the vast vast vast majority use a pencil.

Moving forward electronic scoresheets will likely become more prevalent; I know I would much prefer to bring my laptop and type my scoresheets, as long as the bottles are opened off-table to avoid damage from gushers and accidental spills.

(Please don't ask about the taco I dumped onto my laptop keyboard last week!)


Don't be shocked to see conflicting comments from the two judges.
Some conflicting info is fine -- hell, in some cases it's welcomed as you want different perspectives on your beer, otherwise why have two judges?

But yeah, it's very frustrating when you get scoresheets that seem to have been written about two different beers.

That said, I think there is a perception that judging should be far more of a precise, purely objective process than it could ever possibly be. (Particularly here on HBT, where I've long felt there was a notable undercurrent of negativity towards competitions.)

At best we are putting an objective framework around what is an inherently subjective process, and I feel like most judges do honestly want to do the best they can, to provide the entrants with a solid evaluation of their beer and actionable suggestions for improvement.
 
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MHBT

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Which is standard and highly recommended by the BJCP. There are some judges who write in pen, but the vast vast vast majority use a pencil.

Moving forward electronic scoresheets will likely become more prevalent; I know I would much prefer to bring my laptop and type my scoresheets, as long as the bottles are opened off-table to avoid damage from gushers and accidental spills.

(Please don't ask about the taco I dumped onto my laptop keyboard last week!)



Some conflicting info is fine -- hell, in some cases it's welcomed as you want different perspectives on your beer, otherwise why have two judges?

But yeah, it's very frustrating when you get scoresheets that seem to have been written about two different beers.

That said, I think there is a perception that judging should be far more of a precise, purely objective process than it could ever possibly be. (Particularly here on HBT, where I've long felt there was a notable undercurrent of negativity towards competitions.)

At best we are putting an objective framework around what is an inherently subjective process, and I feel like most judges do honestly want to do the best they can, to provide the entrants with a solid evaluation of their beer and actionable suggestions for improvement.
What happened with the taco? Jk 😉
 
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Spartan1979

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IMO that's absolute nonsense. It would be nonsense for that to be the bar to first place / BOS, but for mini-BOS it's absurd.

They can make whatever rules they want, of course, but please let us know what comp this is so I never bother to enter. I don't like supporting pretentious assclowns.
I would agree. I won a silver medal at NHC in 2019 with a German Pils that scored a 38.
 
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bottles needed to score 43 to move to mini-BOS.
.....
For this competition, tables could only advance two bottles to mini-BOS.

For this competition, the competition process was (and is) documented. Entries had to score at least 30, but only two could move forward.

So, like I said, lots of great mead, a number of happy judges, and some delightful discussion.

And, the steward (*cough* me *cough*) did go "above and beyond" to annotate paper score sheets noting the score needed to get to mini-BOS. :mug:
 
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Bobby_M

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So in other words beer competitions dont hold true value, thats what im getting

I wouldn't say that at all. One can be critical of the BJCP in some way, or critical of a specific competition or even a single judge and still be completely consumed by competition culture. I enjoyed competing since 2007 and judging since 2017 and will continue to. It's usually the people that care the most about a given community that will voice the most constructive criticism.

One of my biggest gripes with the local culture was the push to have the biggest competition (most entries) rather than the highest quality one. The bigger it gets, the more desperate you get to find judges and your standards go way down. Before you know it, half the judges on the tables barely know what the acronym BJCP means, nevermind training and testing to confirm some level of ability. That doesn't mean I hate competitions but rather that we can do better. I
 

Spartan1979

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For this competition, tables could only advance two bottles to mini-BOS.

For this competition, the competition process was (and is) documented. Entries had to score at least 30, but only two could move forward.

So, like I said, lots of great mead, a number of happy judges, and some delightful discussion.

And, the steward (*cough* me *cough*) did go "above and beyond" to annotate paper score sheets noting the score needed to get to mini-BOS. :mug:
Scoring must be higher where you are than around here. I've been a judge for over 20 years and don't see many scores in the 40's.
 
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MHBT

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Im curious , for example say you have 200 entries(just throwing a number) how many on average receive a perfect 50 score out of those 200?
 
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Moving forward electronic scoresheets will likely become more prevalent; I know I would much prefer to bring my laptop and type my scoresheets, as long as the bottles are opened off-table to avoid damage from gushers and accidental spills.

Paper scoresheets do have advantages.




In my opinion, the people who set up / tear down competition sites are amazing. Take a large area, organize it to track and serve 100s of bottles of beer, distribute and collect score sheets, serve lunch, provide water & crackers, provide for reuse and recycling of bottles. And don't forget the cups. And pens. And ...

And now, for their next 'super hero' provide power (and light IT services) for 'bring your own' devices.




And even deeper in the background are the companies (regional breweries, regional home brew supply warehouses) that I've seen provide space (and other resources) for bottle sort.

Think about the packaging material one would use for a entry. Multiple by 250. All of that shows up some where, gets unpacked, and reused/recycled as a one time event over a couple of weeks.




A final "pro tip":

bottle sort is a great place to get free packaging material for your next competition.​
 

dmtaylor

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I've never been involved with a competition where more than the category winner was advanced to BOS.
Some competitions apparently use the top two from each category. Or use a mini-BOS which could result in a silver moving to BOS instead of the gold. There are no firm rules established by BJCP -- each competition develops its own rules.
 

dmtaylor

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Really? Wow
A score of 50 is like touching the face of God. For whatever reason, most judges won't score anything higher than a 45 or 46, even if it's perfect and they don't recommend changing anything. I gave one a 46 once. Do more beers deserve a 49 or 50? Maybe. But people are reluctant to say something is perfect, perhaps because judges are human and flawed.

Case in point: The beer that scored 50 did NOT end up winning the BOS.
 
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Scoring must be higher where you are than around here. I've been a judge for over 20 years and don't see many scores in the 40's.
For me, that set of tables was a unique experience.

I've served tables (amber / brown) where no entry scored above 29.

In a different style, on one table, after the 2nd bottle in the flight, we (judges and I) had a friendly running joke about me hopefully serving a good beer with the next bottle.

In my experience, it was common for a table, judging a flight of around 6 entries, to send two entries (minimum score of 30) to mini-BOS.

mini-BOS was always a joy to steward. I watched experienced judges evaluate quality beers. If one were "in it to win it" with competitions, this is like being a "fly on the wall". Full disclosure: When I entered a competition, I don't steward that style.
 
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MHBT

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A score of 50 is like touching the face of God. For whatever reason, most judges won't score anything higher than a 45 or 46, even if it's perfect and they don't recommend changing anything. I gave one a 46 once. Do more beers deserve a 49 or 50? Maybe. But people are reluctant to say something is perfect, perhaps because judges are human and flawed.

Case in point: The beer that scored 50 did NOT end up winning the

You ever see beerfest? Remember when they make the recipe and the lights of heaven shine in and they talk about freezing it and skating on it in the winter? That never happens?
 
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Im curious , for example say you have 200 entries(just throwing a number) how many on average receive a perfect 50 score out of those 200?
In my experience serving ales (the meads were a delightful exception), the highest score I saw was in the low 40s.
 

Bobby_M

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Scoring must be higher where you are than around here. I've been a judge for over 20 years and don't see many scores in the 40's.

Or maybe there are better brewers elsewhere? ;)

I think there's a terrible trend in some judging circles to be terrified to recognize a world class beer when they taste it. Homebrew is still climbing out of the long running stigma that it's all dirty dishwater. You'd think judges would know better than that. At the last competition, I judged a total of 5 tables not including the BOS. I can recall at least 6 entries total that I scored over 40 and one of them was a 47 that also went on to win 1st place BOS.

I had to be honest. The only flaw the beer had was a slightly low carbonation and diminished head retention for the style. That took off a single point in appearance, mouthfeel and overall. If it were not for that flaw, it would be a 50.

The highest score I ever received in dozens of competitions/entries was a 48. An acquaintance of mine scored a a perfect 50 for a Pyment at NHC about 5-6 years ago and that is the only 50 I've been aware of.

In general I THINK if the judge pool is mostly recognized or less experienced certified (if not "guest" judges), there is a narrowing of the scoring range. It's supposed to be 0-50. We cripple the low end with house courtesy 13 point bottom ends to not be soul crushing. Then the judges are scared to say a beer is fantastic because the don't want to be too far off from their partner. If you don't know how to suggest any improvement, what do you take the points off for?
 
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From my experiences as a steward, any score less than 25 had one (or more) of these as a primary cause:
  • failure to execute on the "five priorities for brewing great beer" (HtB, ch 1).
  • failure to execute on necessary water adjustments
  • packaging / shipping / handling problems between competitor and judges


Occasionally, "Homebrew competition" threads mention this:
On the day of the competition, grab a bottle and evaluate it yourself.
which is a solid idea.

For those "in it to win it", I'll suggest 'taking it to the next level'
store a bottle to simulate mildly harsh shipping conditions: bottle the beer, store it in 'back of the truck' temperatures for a couple of days, then in a temperature that simulates a shipping warehouse. Anticipate a more friendly storage environment when the beer arrives at the competition deliver point.



Competitions are coming back. They are coming back different. Many are smaller in size. Many are using different (and online) score sheets.

One more time: If you are looking for feedback from a competition, please check with the competition to confirm that what they are planning to provide matches your expectations.
 

Davedrinksbeer

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Some of the State Fairs have Beer Competitions. You can enter the Ky State Fair Beer Competition, they haven’t posted how to enter yet online but it is coming soon, $5 a beer/style to enter which most places $10 or more. I steward for it and I know some of the Judges. Thing to remember is for each style of beer there is a criteria for that style so they are tasting to that style, I like to make fruit beers, so one year I turned in a cherry wheat beer and it truly was a very good tasting beer, only scored a 24 because judges said it tasted more like cherries than beer even though it was a Cherry Wheat Beer. Most comments I see are, Need to mash longer, or mash at a higher/lower temp, pitch more yeast, fermentation temp was too high or too low, improve sanitation, carbonation to high or to low. If you can try being a steward at one of the competitions, I really learn a lot by helping and it is pretty fun, I got to taste a lot of beers.
 

bwible

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Someone who admits they can no longer taste or smell to the degree necessary to judge shouldn't be allowed to judge, plain and simple. If they took the exam today they would likely fail, so...

Well there are some judges at their prime who can’t taste or smell one thing or another. We have one guy who can’t pick up dms even when the beer reeks of it. I know another guy who can’t taste diacetyl. So these guys work with whoever they are judging with and rely on them for those flavors. We have other guys that are so sensitive to either of these things they slam beers for them where other guys would not.

Everybody’s taste and thresholds are different. But I’d say yes, if someone is admitting they can’t judge then they shouldn’t judge.

I know one guy who says his sense of smell and taste is not the same since it came back after covid and he says he tastes onion in everybody’s beer. Hopefully something like that is only temporary.

It’s a volunteer organization made up of fellow homebrewers. Nobody is getting paid to do this. So you don’t want to start kicking people to the curb. Everybody is trying to do the best they can.
 

bwible

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We cripple the low end with house courtesy 13 point bottom ends to not be soul crushing.
I used to never want to go less than 20 unless it was just a truly awful rotgut beer. When you just get the band aid or slight infection that happens to everybody from time to time. Stuff like that. 20 is not going to win anything and is less soul crushing (great choice of words) than a 13. We don’t want to really discourage somebody from ever entering a competetion again.
 

bwible

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A final "pro tip":

bottle sort is a great place to get free packaging material for your next competition.​
And every competition is a great place to score free bottles afterward if you need them. You’ll have to clean them. If you’re lucky some of them might even be full of random beers.
 

bwible

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In my experience, it was common for a table, judging a flight of around 6 entries, to send two entries (minimum score of 30) to mini-BOS.
6 entries at a table? Thats when its time to start combining categories because you didn’t get enough entries per category. Who has that many tables and judges or that much time?
 
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MHBT

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After all that his info im gonna be happy to score a 12😆
 
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6 entries at a table?
Example: Category: DIPA; 24 entries; 8 judges; 4 tables; 6 entries per table.



Rewind - The original observation was this:

for some competitions (I can't speak for all) ...

... in a category with a large number of entries, it's plausible for an entry to score well (say 35) but not make it to mini-BOS - as two other entries in the same flight scored higher.



On judges with "blind spots": For competitions I was a steward at, it appears that judges were not assigned to categories where they were not able to taste common faults for that category (e.g. dms). There may have been something in the judging sign-up sheet that helped make this happen.



In closing, as was stated earlier

"It’s a volunteer organization made up of fellow homebrewers. [...] Everybody is trying to do the best they can."
 
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bwible

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Example: Category: DIPA; 24 entries; 8 judges; 4 tables; 6 entries per table.
The competitions I judged at, that would have been 4 judges, 2 tables, 12 entries per table. They didn’t have that many judges to be able to have 8 judges doing 1 category. As insane as NEIPA has become.

They usually have the event at a place, whether its a local brewery or whatever and they are on the clock. We started usually at 7 am, tried to get 2 rounds in then lunch then do 1 more round followed by best of show followed by announcements and award presentations in the afternoon. Trying to be done by 3:30 or 4. Nobody had 6 entries at at table. Usually was at least 8 per table.
 
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When I was a steward [late 2010s], some competitions had rounds on Friday afternoon (say 2 pm, 4 pm, and 7 pm).
 

Brewbuzzard

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I've never been involved with a competition where more than the category winner was advanced to BOS.
I think he means his beer was the middle beer of three pushed from first round to second round. But then he should have taken first place to reach BOS judging. I hope that's what he means.
 
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MHBT

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Thanks everyone for the run down on how comps run and how to enter etc definitely not interested in entering my beer anymore for critique, medals or anything thank you seems like time wasted for me at least cheers
 

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A lot of what was mentioned above are my reasons for not loving competitions. That said, I've been in quite a few through the years including NHC, I've medaled in quite a few, and I've gotten really poor scores and feedback in quite a few. I've stewarded a handful, and have mostly positive thoughts about the process.

My issues:
1. Minimum score. Why bother? If the beer is absolutely terrible that you want to give it a 0, what's the difference between a 0 and a 13? Or a 14? or a 17? Would a 17 make you feel that much better than a 14 or a 6? For me, anything under a 30 and I am not happy with how the beer did. For me a 29 might as well be a 0. Call me snooty if you want, but that's basically how I feel about the beers I enter.

2. People afraid of giving out 50s. I stewarded a table where they gave a Belgian Dark Strong a 49. Neither judge (both certified mind you) could find a flaw in it, but were both afraid to give it a 50. I tasted it and it was a fantastic beer. Their scoresheets basically both said the same "this is outstanding, we can't find an issue, keep it up." I would be a little irked if that was my beer and they said that but didn't give me a 50. In all of the comps I've stewarded, I've never seen a 50. My highest score on any beer I've ever entered was maybe a 46 or so.

3. Certain styles will *NEVER* win BOS. A HIGH QUALITY, TRUE TO STYLE beer should medal and win, no matter what style it is. Any light lagers, cream ales, pale european beer..... never stand a chance at BOS, no matter how well they are brewed. It always seems to be over the top stouts, belgian dubbel or darker, over the top IPAs, super boozy Wee Heavys or Saisons, or maybe some lesser brewed style like a Weizenbock or Sahti. If the style guidelines say it should taste like Coors Light, and you brewed something identical to Coors Light, it should have have a chance at scoring a 50 and should be on equal footing at BOS. But judges tend to prefer the more flavorful styles and always seem to choose them.

When I asked a judge about this, they couldn't give me a straight answer. They stumbled around saying something to the effect of "well, these other styles aren't as easy, er, um, so, they will usually win out". FINE, then make the max score of an American Light Lager a 30, and the rest 50, or find some other way to let the brewers know that that style doesn't stand a chance.

For those of you who judge - have you ever scored anything in 1a-d, 2a, 3a, 11a, 14a, 18a (2021 guidelines), anything higher than a 35?

Just my 2c.
 
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