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2014 Competition Entries

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I’ll probably regret even thinking of doing a post like this – predicting my scores in the forthcoming NHC competition… But I figured it might prove a useful indicator on how my perceptions of my own beers compare with the supposedly trained palate of a BJCP judge. When I get the scores from the two separate judging dates, I’ll post them here.. just to add to my own acute embarrassment.. 😀

Yo-leven India Pale Ale – Masses of hop citrus fruit. Amazing hop aroma. Sweet, yet balanced. I think it will score very well. In my view, it should score 40/50. Unless the judge is very sensitive to caramel malts and prefers drier IPAs. In terms of quality, this is certainly in the top three of my competition entries this year.

Trixibelle Belgian IPA – A tasty beer for sure, but I don’t think it’s going to score well. The WLP550 Belgian yeast is an absolute beast and fermented this out to complete dryness, despite the fair percentage of crystal malt in it. However, it has simply been in the bottle too long and the hop flavours have fallen off a cliff at this stage. As tasty as it still is, I’d predict 32/50.

Vingt-Sept Belgian Ale – A strange but pleasing little number.. it is probably well situated in the “Belgian Specialty” category. I don’t think the rye malt that I specified in the description of the beer when entering it, is prominent enough to warrant such a mention. This is the kind of thing that sees beers marked down in competitions. It’s sparkling clear, dry and drinkable, and has lots and lots of citrus and spice character. As pleasing as it is to me, I don’t think it will score particularly well unfortunately. 32/50.

Pork Chop Porter – I had extremely high hopes for this, and as excellent as it is, it hasn’t turned out quite as expected. I had hoped the English yeast I used would tip it over the edge in terms of quality, but I think it’s left more residual sweetness than expected. And in such an intensely flavoured beer, the yeast character doesn’t really come through. I’d have been better off using the dry American ale yeast I used in my first attempt. There’s a smoky character here too which I didn’t notice on the last attempt. 38/50 hopefully, the same as I got with this beer in last years competition.

Buckshot Flag Irish Red Ale – Quite a success I think, but not quite as I expected. I think the amber malt is just slightly too pronounced. And I’m fairly sure it will get dinged for not being roasty enough for an Irish red. Though I’m hoping that the judges will appreciate subtlety. I’d predict 38/50 for this one.

Five Dollar Shake – I had entered this as a “Foreign Extra Stout” laced with the vanilla-infused bourbon. However, I think the bourbon pushes the alcohol character firmly into a different category. I’m not sure whether the judges will give me any leeway on this. But I still think it’s a quality beer – smooth, roasty, chocolatey and sweet. I’ll be very disappointed if this didn’t score 38/50.

Black Widow Extra Stout – This will be roughly a year old soon, and it’s not showing any signs of age. Fantastically balanced. Rich, caramelly, roasty. Very tight, creamy head. Extremely drinkable considering the high ABV. I’ve high hopes for this; I just hope the richness of beer won’t see it dinged for being in the wrong category. Even though it’s just under 8% ABV, it really is skirting the boundaries of “Foreign Extra Stout”. Perhaps “Russian Imperial Stout” might have been a more appropriate category to place it in. Time will tell. 40/50 hopefully.

Pie-O-My Amber Ale – I’m not sure how much importance the judges are going to put on good clarity, but if they do, then this beer will not score very well at all. It’s so heavily-hopped that it’s very murky. The flavour is good, though a little more dank than I wanted. Also, serving temperature is very important in this beer. If it’s too cold, it simply has no impact. You can’t taste the rich malt flavours andit just seems overly harsh and grassy. I’d anticipate a 34/50 for this one.

Diabolus in Lupulus Imperial Amber – I don’t think I’ve every done a beer with such impressive head retention as this. The hop character is very intense, and I hope it will stand out during the judging. I’m not happy with the grain bill in this. I think the “Big Dawg” had a much cleaner malt profile. If the judges are up for a big, hoppy beer, then I think it will score reasonably well, but it’s no medal winner. I’d say 36/50.


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