Objectively Judging Your Homebrew

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I've seen this and similar statements posted several times around the forum: "If you don't submit your beer to contests, you don't know if your beer is good". The point they are making is that without having a contest score associated with your beer--OR--a large homebrew club sampling with BJCP judges, you don't know if your beer is good or not.
This argument stems from the fact that it may be hard to judge your own homebrew in an objective manner. And if you can't do that, what good is your recipe when it comes to sharing it? Take this as you wish, but those posters are somewhat correct. However, I also don't think you need a BJCP judge at your homebrew club or a high score sheet to tell if your homebrew is good or not. In fact, this article will go over how you can better judge your own homebrew in an objective way.
Question 1: Are you a perfect brewer?
If you answered yes, move along. This article isn't for you. If you said no, then you're right, and I can work with you.
The Form
I created a form to fill out when I sit down to judge my own beer. I wrote the questions specifically to reduce the effect of a brewer missing issues in their own beers. This is what separates it from filling out a contest score sheet for yourself.
There are no scores associated with different answers. There are also no questions comparing your beer to a specific BJCP style guideline. This is your beer in a vacuum.

The Sections
The first section is basic information, but tracking how a batch tastes as it ages will help you know when it is at its peak and how long it stays there.
The next section covers the appearance of the beer. Filling out this section covers head retention, color compared to your plan, and clarity. A 1-10 scale helps reduce the "my beer is perfect" mentality. Maybe the color was just a little off compared to what you had in mind when making a grain bill. If the color did turn out to be off, you can increase or reduce the specialty malts to get it next time (maybe to get that perfect red).

Is this a good beer? Without objective analysis it's hard to tell. Image courtesy of Scooby Brew
The third section is for evaluating flavor and aroma. Is the aroma malty or hoppy? Can you tell? If not that's fine too. Notice that I didn't include any middle-ground here. Why? I want myself and others to take a stand on their beer instead of staying in the gray. There are a few lines to fill in what the beer smells like. These can be any things that come to your mind when judging. Special B is supposed to smell like plums, but what does the beer actually smell like as a whole? There's no penalty if it smells like farts, hot dogs, and pineapple, so you should write those down.
There is also a part about writing one thing you like and one thing you don't like about your beer. This will help you think about your beer in a different way. Having something you don't like about the beer doesn't have to be a glaring diacetyl flaw either. Just being a little less bitter than you wanted can be something you don't like.
The last 2 questions bring it all together:
How do you think your beer can be improved?
Will you brew it again?
You've gone through the tasting and judging and you realize "hey, my beer lacks this," or "it could be better with that!" You may also realize this was a fun one-off but maybe isn't the best combination of ingredients. After completing the form as honestly as you can, you are left with a road map to making the beer better if it needs to be.
The form can be downloaded here:
Yes! I really needed this. I currently use the BJCP guidelines to assist me when tasting my beers, just like I did on this post: http://grizzlybearloveskolsch.com/kolsch-v-1-kolsch-v-2-compared/ , but I will be sure to take this form into account when I do my next tasting tests! Thanks!
Great write-up, and definitely demystifies trying to objectively describe my beers as beginner brewer.
On another note, can you share the recipe for your farts, hot dog & pineapple beer? Sounds like a winner.
Nice write-up, I'm going to give this a try tonight. I can never tell if other people truly like my beer or are just too nice to say otherwise.
Nice write up. I personally do contests to get feedback because I can't trust family and friends, but I like what you've done here. I will also add another method to objectively rate your beers... how many are left after 1 month or 2 months (whatever your typical rate of consumption is)? I have a batch going on 6 months now that still has 12 or so bottles left. Whenever it's time to restock the fridge, I go for my other homebrews first. This tells me I didn't like it very much, but I can't stand the thought of dumping them. They're still beer after all.
I like the spirit of this article, but it mistakenly and repeatedly refers to subjective judgment as somehow "objective". It is the fact it is not a blind tasting and that it is being judged by the brewer themselves that precludes it from being objective.
The problem with people claiming their beer is good online in an effort to stave off arguments about process (as this seems to be the etiology of most of these comments) is not solved by this sheet...however, I do feel this sheet could be very helpful when it comes to "what did I do wrong" threads in eliciting a bit more feedback about the beer than a simple: "it tastes off".
BJCP is not an end all be all, it's a beginning. A criteria by which a beer can be judged by someone other than the brewer working with a similar framework accepted as a judging standard across the world. BJCP is also not "objective", but it's a lot closer than a homebrewer sitting down with a bottle of their own beer and filling in a worksheet.
It seems lIke i beat up my brewS more tHan the bjcp guys. I've had a few informally judged by bcjp certified guys and they gave it a much higher score than I anticipated each time. I do brew good beer and intended to enter a comps on a few occasions, just never got around to it
This is a great tool, it's one of those things people probably do informally in their head, but putting it down on paper helps to force yourself to think about it. It's almost a LEAN like approach to scoring your homebrew.
Cool document! Does anyone use anything similar when sharing home brew with friends, who may or may not be craft beer drinkers? It would be awesome to get feedback from friends and family other than "This beer is good". I think my wife is getting tired of me asking her what my beer smells like (they always seem to smell like beer...)
Nice form, good for self-eval. Any chance there is a Word version, or clean PDF, available, in case someone wants to tweak it without retyping it all?
I need help with my FIRST home brew I just bottled it found out I did it wrong
I put 1/2 tspn of the priming solution in each bottle and I'm being told I need to put 1/2 of the priming sugar in it! Everything is bottled already, can I pop the tops and put in more and cap everything again or am I better off to just leave it? Any suggestions help thank you