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05/12/10 07:07 PM  
comp entry question?
I have a 100% brett L. and C. blonde ale that was aged on 2#/gallon of sour cherries and french oak for 3 mos. The oak at first (after kegging) was quite prominent but now has integrated well as the sour cherries have taken the forefront with a gripping acidity. Here-in lies the question:

Where should I best enter this one?

-Belgian Specialty (am thinking not so much, but maybe)?

-Specialty category?

-Fruit beer category


-oak aged category (the oak is definitely there in nose and finish)

05/12/10 07:54 PM  
Re: comp entry question?
Since you have more than one thing going on here, I'd recommend CAT 23 Specialty. Second choice being Other Wood Aged Beers. I believe the wood and brett take it out of fruit. I would do Belgian specialty either.
05/13/10 12:29 AM  
Re: comp entry question?
I entered a 100% brett c. and 100% amarillo beer into Belgian specialty it earned a 24.5. I entered the same beer into NHC as a Specialty and it earned a 40 and a second place. Go with specialty and describe the beer as best as possible in the space provided.
05/13/10 10:04 AM  
Re: comp entry question?
In my experience, if you want to score well in competition with an all brett beer, you need to make it a point to describe (and brew to) a base style. In my mind, all brett beers are sort of a category by themselves. For example, you could make a beer with 100% pilsner malt, and depending on the yeast you use, it could be a pilsner, a blond ale, a belgian pale, a saison, a helles, etc. If you added only brett, I think it would make something different ... an all brett beer that should be judged on its own merits. But in my experience, BJCP judges don't see it that way. They want you to call it an all-brett pilnser, or an all brett saison, or an all brett whatever so that they have something to compare it to. I think calling it an all brett saison is an oxymoron (you can't have a saison without saison yeast), but on almost every score card where I don't list a base style I've been knocked for it. On the other hand, when I have identified a base style, I've also been knocked for not totally meeting its requirements (which again, can be difficult to do without using the base style's preferred yeast). And that's even when I've entered the beer in category 23.

I'm not trying to be negative. I actually find it helpful to enter all brett beers in competition. My advice is to not worry about the score, ignore some of the comments, and learn from the helpful comments.

As a final thought, I'll say that I've done OK entering sour beers (fruit berliner weiss, etc.) in the fruit beer category. I don't think the use of wood or or souring bugs necessarily takes your beer out of the category 20, if those flavors are just in the background or complement the fruit. I think it really depends on which flavors dominate.

05/13/10 02:34 PM  
Re: comp entry question?
I wonder if maybe making it a point to say in the specialty ale comments: This beer was brewed with all brett but all brett beers do not necessarily have the classic "brettanomyces in secondary" profile. Seems like people get knocked for that a lot.
05/13/10 02:46 PM  
Re: comp entry question?
Unfortunatley many judges do want you to be specific about base style. As I judge, all I really want to know is: lager, ale, or wild. That narrows it down enough. I prefer you don't be specific.

My experience is when you mix elements of several categories, then it is best to use 23. In fact, CAT 23 the guidelines specify, "Combinations of other style categories (e.g., India Brown Ale, fruit-and-spice beers, smoked spiced beers)." Another example meads, the guidelines state, "An Open Category Mead is a honey-based beverage that either combines ingredients from two or more of the other mead sub-categories..." If fruit was the prominent caharacter with wood supporting, I probably would not down grade. But if the wood was dominate, then I probably would. Just saying it is probably going to do best in specialty.

05/13/10 02:49 PM  
Re: comp entry question?
Never tried that approach, but I think its a pretty good idea. My NHC beer got a 38 but the judges knocked it for being too "subdued" and said it "needs more time to let the sourness develop". Had I educated them better on what to expect, the results may have been different.
05/14/10 09:43 PM  
Re: comp entry question?
Yes, giving a good description is a good idea. The brettanomyces seminar was enlightening at the 2008 NHC. The straight brett beers in general were very bready an not funky. It was when they were cofermented with estery yeasts that the "classic" brett character was more appearant. I'm sure most judges have not experienced this.
05/15/10 09:54 AM  
Re: comp entry question?
Interesting to hear that others have had similar results with trying to find a good category to enter these beers in for comps. I too have been dinged before for not mentioning a "base" style. Most feedback has been to name a base style, brew to it, and add brett so the judges are better able to critique it.

I think that is a good suggestion to describe the beer to a style and what the judges should expect. There just never really seems to be enough room to do that. would that better be done on an entry form or bottle tags or both? My brett beers have always seemed to do better in the specialty category though, but every now and then I see ones doing well in oddball categories too. I guess it really depends on what judges you get and how open minded they are.

05/17/10 01:38 PM  
Re: comp entry question?

I just had a Jolly pumpkin Bam Noire and loved it but what current category could it be placed under and for the future, what "sour" subcategory.

base beer: saison


session strength (4.3% alc)




aged in oak

05/17/10 05:04 PM  
the hopyard of forking paths
When I hear debates about beer style categories, I often find myself reminded of Borges' noted short story "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins," in which he describes 'a certain Chinese Encyclopedia, 'The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge,' in which it is written that animals are divided into:

1. those that belong to the Emperor

2. embalmed ones

3. those that are trained

4. suckling pigs

5. mermaids

6. fabulous ones

7. stray dogs

8. those included in the present classification

9. those that tremble as if they were mad

10. innumerable ones

11. those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush

12. others

13. those that have just broken a flower vase

14. those that from a long way off look like flies

Wilkins himself was one of a number of people who wished to build a new language based on what he thought were irreducibly logical and self-evident categories of objects. Borges' story makes much of the fact that all categorizations are, at some level, arbitrary and based on subjective criteria.

(Especially for Saisons!)

05/18/10 12:30 PM  
Re: comp entry question?
Regarding brewinhard's question about where to put comp beer information (bottle label or entry form), I highly recommend the entry form. The info collected in an online entry should be printed on the flight sheet the judges will get. Any info on a bottle label would have to be transferred by hand for a judge to see it.
05/18/10 07:05 PM  
Re: comp entry question?
Good point! I just always wondered how much info really gets to the judges about the beer.
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