Friday, October 23, 2009

QABC result feedback

A couple of months ago, I entered my Winter Ale (recipe coming soon) into the Queensland Amateur Brewers Competition. It was the first time I have ever entered a beer in any competition, so it was a completely new experience for me.

The beer was entered under the Northern English Brown Ale style of the Brown Ale category, a decision that was made the night before with my trusty tasting partner, who helped me realise that it wasn't going to fit under the original style I was thinking of. I was really glad that I made the switch, as these competitions are so much about entering under the correct style so that the beer can be matched up with the guidelines.

The results were published about a month ago, but it was only last night at the Brisbane Amateur Beer Brewers club meeting that I received the score-sheets with feedback.

It's very interesting to see the comments by the two judges side-by-side, and it made me realise just how much of the score comes down to luck of the draw with the judges. I'm not saying that the results are completely down to luck - you obviously need a good beer to do well - but a few points can mean the difference between placing and not placing. The difference is understandable too; no matter how much objectivity they try to put into the judging process, at the end of the day, the range of ability to discern different flavours & aromas can vary quite a bit between people.

Also interesting to note that the main flaw I thought the beer had (too much diacetyl) wasn't mentioned at all in the comments. Maybe it was within the style limits after all.

Judge 1: 6/12
Very low aroma. Cannot detect any malt character at all. No faults detected either.

Judge 2: 8/12
Lovely light fruit hops, caramel also comes through.

Judge 1: 3/3
Good colour, clarity for style. Head is moderate and stable.

Judge 2: 3/3
Nice head retention. Lovely carbonation billowing up the glass. Good amber colour to style.

Judge 1: 14/20
Well balanced beer, needs a touch more malt complexity for style. Increase nutty by adding chocolate malt etc. Low fruitiness from yeast - good. Hops & after taste reserved.

Judge 2: 15/20
Malt sweetness good. The hop flavour & bitterness levels are within style.

Judge 1: 4/5
Medium body good for style, slight warming sensation ? higher end of alcohol scale.

Judge 2: 3/5
Carbonation level to style. Nice dry finish to style.

Overall Impression
Judge 1: 7/10
Good easy to drink beer. Not enough aroma character with more malt complexity required for style.

Judge 2: 6/10
An overall good attempt at style. Nutty & dry finish. Well done.

The combined result for the beer was 34.5/50, and it was beaten by three other beers in the category (with scores of 39.5, 36.5 and 36) amongst 15 entries in total.

I remain extremely happy with the result, and I look forward to entering more beers in the BABBs mini-comps for more feedback in the lead up to next year's QABC.

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