NJ State Fair Homebrew Competition Score Review
NJ State Fair homebrew competitions is one of my favorites, probably because I won best in show in 2010, but it’s also my home state largest competition and I like to “brew” local. Unfortunately this year I didn’t win or place in any of the categories I entered. However, I thought I would share the results of my entries with you and they are not all pretty.
Let’s start with the good and work our way up the really bad.
Category 9-e Strong Scotch Ale
This rocked out with a 33 (35 & 30) and was awarded an Honorable Mention. The judge who gave it a 30 thought it was a “very good beer, roast was a bit high causing some astringency and bitterness. Otherwise this is delicious”. I basically got dinged in the Aroma, judge thought it was flat and papery. The other judge gave it a 35 with basically the overall impress, but liked the aroma unlike the first judge.
My thoughts: I think these judges we pretty much spot on with their reviews based on style guidelines, which is what these competitions are about. I personally didn’t feel this beer was as astringent as they described, but based on the scores it must not have been that bad.
Category 23-a Specialty – Brett Brown Porter
This too rocked in the Judges view with a 34 (36 & 32), pretty good but didn’t score high enough to place in this tough category. I put this in the specialty category since it didn’t fit into any of the sour categories. The first judge, who scored it a 36, described it as “Very nice combination. Well executed – could have a little more malt complexity even for a brown porter – Enjoyable beer thanks for sharing”. She loved the aroma and mouthfeel, but dinged me a bit on flavor for the malt character. The other judge scored it a 32 and described it “The brett character is lovely but somewhat powerful for the subtle base style. Could use more roastiness to stand up to the base. Quite a unique experiment!” Like the other judge I got dinged on the roast, but I also was marked down for mouthfeel as low carbonation and a bit watery.
My thoughts: While I love this beer, I was surprised at the high scores. It’s a tough style with a tough yeast, 100% Brett Trois yeast. My thoughts on the beer were more in line with the lower score; I also thought it was a bit thin from the yeast activity. A problem I consistently have when I bottle from the keg, I always loose way to much carbonation, ending up with flat beer.
Category 16-A – Belgian Wit
This beer fell short of what I was hoping for and it showed in the judge’s scores. This wit scored a 27 (25, 28,28,28) not sure why there were 4 judges, only 2 of them left any feedback that was remotely useful. The first judge, who scored it a 25, said “Very clean beer, too bitter to style. Hard beer to enter into a specific category, cut back on hops or bitter orange peel.” The second judge said, “Solid summer beer but misses the mark for a wit due to clarity and bitterness level. I’d be glad to drink a pint though”
My thoughts: This beer was a couple months old when I entered it. It started as a cardamom wit, but the cardamom had completely fallen out of the beer and left a fairly unbalance wit, although it was a fabulously easy drinking beer. I’d have to agree that my scores were very reasonable when judging against the style.
Category 14-B American IPA
Wow ‘o wow the judges did not like this beer! Here are my pathetic almost embarrassing scores, 17.5 (17 & 18) OUCH! Here is what the 1st Judges who scored it a 17 said, “For an American IPA – I’m not sure this fits the bill. Would have expected more of a balanced hop forward ale – but this beer is more of a fruity malty Belgian style ale”. The second judge wrote “Nice presentation but beer is out of style. Lower crystal/caramel malts increase hop additions, raise mash temp and raise carbonation”. I’m not even going to get into the dinks on this beer since obviously there were a lot. Hops, malt, and carbonation were all appeared to be a problem.
My thoughts: Frankly, I’m shocked this was my beer. I knew there might be a minor carbonation issues when I tried the extra bottle I had on the day of judging and it was nowhere near these comments. In fact, a professional brewer had some really nice things to say about this IPA a couple weeks before AHA which is why I entered it. I can only imaging what I did to mess up this beer so badly from the keg to the bottle. C’est la vie