NJ State Fair Homebrew Competition Score Review

scoresheet-nj-statefair2NJ 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




2 Responses to “NJ State Fair Homebrew Competition Score Review”

  1. Chris Jones Says:

    Sucks about your IPA, maybe they got your bottles messed up with someone else.

  2. simplybeer Says:

    I thought about that, but I doubt it. They have been running this competition for 17, 18 years now, they know what they’re doing. I don’t see how you could get bottles messed up.

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