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Nick P.
08/16/12 12:47 PM  
Would you compete your precious American Wild Ales
Okay, so I have a questions. What are your thoughts on competing your sour beers.

Are they too precious for competition?

Do you have an over abundance in your cellar that you want feedback on?

Just trying to get some feedback as my homebrew competition has American Wild Ale as a "Special" Category and we aren't getting many submissions.

Cheers,

Nick

Luke
08/16/12 01:46 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
Yea, I think many of us have been burnt on this in the past. It's just such a crapshoot depending on who is judging.

One big problem is that the existing BJCP guidelines offer little help, so judges have not been trained and are largely on their own for critique of wild ales.

Also, in my experience people tend to enter "Specialty" categories as a last resort because of unpredictability in not only the judges but also the beers you will have to compete with.

Nick P.
08/16/12 02:27 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
Interesting. Just thinking for next year. If we made more defined categories for American Wild Ale for instance.

Traditional Lambic Souring Method Category(Sacc, Brett, Pedio, Lacto)

Aged on Fruit

Aged on Oak

Aged on both Oak and Fruit

Lactic only Category-

Traditional Sour Mash

Liquid Lactic

***I'm assuming this has already been done to some extent and I'm not reinventing the wheel. Anyone want to take a stab at categories for American Wild and 100% Brett beers.

I'd like to turn my clubs competition into a Funk only comp and am willing to start very small.

Smokinghole
08/16/12 10:53 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
After entering NHC with a few brett'd beers I won't be doing it anymore. I will hold on to my beers and drink them all on my own or share with friends. I don't need a judge to tell me what they think about the beer. I have a bad attitude when it comes to competitions with brett'd beers. I almost feel that if it's not an IPA/APA/stout/imperial something the judges are hit and miss on the scores.

The creativity afforded by these types of fermentations leaves a competition, that relies on categories, a waste of time. I submitted what I feel was a DAMN GOOD orval inspired beer. I guess you can call it a clone of sorts but I went a touch darker using some D45 syrup. Anyhow it got dinged for carbonation and I forget what else. Had I sent a bottle of Orval in I am sure it would have faired just as well as my homebrew batch of "belgian amber bottle conditoned with brett". I think that competitions build too small of a box for beers like you're talking about/we all make.

Cisco
08/16/12 11:08 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
+1 with Smokinghole.
Gordon A
08/16/12 11:41 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
I got straight up told on a NHC scoresheet by a National-ranked judge to not enter a brett saison into any more competitions. As in "The BJCP won't allow me to do justice to this beer".

Nick, I've been planning on entering your comp with a beer or two, but haven't actually bottled the beers yet.

levifunk
08/17/12 10:04 AM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
I've never thought much on the topic, but I agree with what has been said. The BJCP is not too style guideline focused to be of value when it comes to a style called "wild".

Also, if it takes 1 life-time to become a Nationally ranked judge at BJCP, it would take another to become an a judge of these styles. I would find more value sending beers to people I know focus all their efforts on this side of brewing. People on these boards, brett/wild/lambic bloggers, and even sour brewers. If there were a known panel of these type of people to judge the sour/brett categories of beer, I would see a lot more value in it.

Luke
08/17/12 12:08 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
I like the category ideas, but do you think you would get enough entrants to split it up that much? I suppose you can always combine categories later if you don't get enough.

grainbelt
08/18/12 03:51 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
+1 Luke large competitions are even grouping categories together, small ones you are going to have to group them together.

As for entering comps, yeah it depends on judges. I have got completly opposite feedback on the exact same beer from high ranked judges.

I do not enter a lot of comps but thinking of quiting them for all these reasons stated.

Luke
08/19/12 12:21 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
@ Nick P. There seems to be some consensus that existing comps are not working very well for sour homebrewers. To me though, that just means that there is a lot of opportunity for improvement!

Anyways, I'm interested in following your attempts to rectify the situation. I'm guessing you've posted this elsewhere before, but can you provide a link to your comp in this thread?

grainbelt
08/19/12 01:47 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
I wouldn't say they are not working. Just as you stated there is room for improvement. It is such a huge undertaking though for know it basically is what it is...

Most of the beers I enter in comps are sours, although I enter very few competitions in a year on only the really large ones so I know I get a better chance of good judges and tough competition.

grainbelt
08/19/12 01:49 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
I think this is the comp Nick is putting on it is a few thread down from this one.

Site

http://nordeastbigriverhbc.wordpress.com/

Registration link

http://nordeasthbc.brewcompetition.com/

CASK1
08/19/12 05:31 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
I agree it can be a crapshoot to enter wild ales. In my recent judging experience, the one's that seem to get a fair shot are entered in the Specialty category, and make heavy use of the comments section. Some entrants write nearly full paragraphs. If you tell the judge what to expect and then meet those expectations with the beer, you should score well, or at least be judged fairly.
Nick P.
08/20/12 12:22 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
Your feedback is awesome everyone!

One of the things that makes sense is that the judges, and judging of sours is very important. The good thing is, for this contest...

http://nordeasthbc.brewcompetition.com/

.....we'll have some great "sour minded judges" for this event. Kristen England has agreed to judge the sour portion, and I'm working on Jeff Halvorson (who puts on "Where the Wild Beers Are") His event is the very next day so there will be many "sour freak" judges in Minneapolis available to judge all of your beers if you enter this year!

I think that it makes sense to start a separate contest in the future for just sours, and make sure to only have judges that have experience and knowledge in American Wild and traditional sour beers. Per @Luke there is definitely an opportunity for improvement!

Key to judging American Wilds in general would be to make sure to do a really good write up to let the judges know what you were shooting for and why. On the judging side, being able to detect "off flavors" is very important to me as that's what I want to know best. Does it smell like Nail Polish, and why, and how do I fix that in my next attempt.

Definitely an opportunity to grow this. Please, more thoughts and feedback are still appreciated.

SO...this is what I'm getting out of this for next year.

1. Get quality judges and publish the judges before entree acceptance.

2. Have multiple categories and sub categories.

3. Include a specific category for Saison-Brett and Sour Saison. We all know that it's the most traditional kind of saison and it's not represented in the BJCP. Currently I put mine in Belgian Specialty.

4. Emphasis on Brewer writing notes about the beer to better direct the judges toward how the beer was created and why. (if you enter into my competition this year, make sure you do a nice solid write up about maybe your base beer, how you soured it, and everything that you put into it!)

Gail
08/21/12 01:25 AM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
I have not entered my good small batch sour beers anywhere because they are indeed precious. I do like that you only want 2 bottles and not 3. That helps... hmm. (One other barrier for me is how multi-batch-blended some of my beers are. The writeup gets very complex, but that is probably not a big deal for most people.)

As a BJCP judge I have thought a lot about it and my suggestion would be to get the BJCP to add in "17-G Specialty Sour Ale" for now and ongoing.

This would be the category 23 of the sour family. Experimental, hybrid, American, home coolship, whatever. (There should be an experimental hoppy category grouped with IPA, too, but that's another issue.)

Not so sure about where to place the 100% brett and brett-finished beers. When I am in a perverse mood I think they should be broken out as ciders and meads are, as a whole other drink, and with a whole other training and exam track to learn to judge them as they continue to be evolved by brewers.

I've judged sour beers entered in Specialty and in Wood-aged, in both cases with fellow judges who just didn't know sour beers and never would have volunteered to judge 17. That's not fair to brewers or judges.

I also don't like the term "wild" unless there is a local ambient component, for what it's worth. Seems like that should be saved for the truly wild.

Yay for working to make a competition work for these beers. Good cause.

Smokinghole
08/21/12 10:15 AM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
The other thing I wonder about would be eligiblity of someone like me in a competition like this. I tend to concentrate on making wild/sours/brett at home because as of April I am a professional brewer/lab tech. So I feel that I cannot enter homebrew comps but the beers I would be competing are certainly not made at work or with any assistance of work resources. For me, I feel it's a sticky situation. A friend and I made what is developing (rather quickly) into a very nice lambic. He wants to enter it in a comp but I told him he'd likely have to enter it as him being the solo brewer. It was made at my house before my position began (I was still a student working at the brewery part time) and it's no doubt 100% homebrewed.

I just don't know how to approach these issues. I haven't seen contest rules strictly banning professional brewers from competing if the beer was made from home. Don't they normally specify that "could not be brewed on a commecial system or setting" or something along those lines?

Nick P.
08/21/12 11:47 AM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
Hmmm....thats a tricky one. For the Lambic...I wouldn't worry to much about that as you weren't a professional brewer. For your sour beers...as long as you didn't syphon wort from one of the fermentors at your brewery and then sour it...I'm sure you'd be fine on that. What brewery? Do you make sours at the Brewery?
Nick P.
08/21/12 11:59 AM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild

American Wild Ale isn't the best descriptor. Mixed Fermentation Beer doesn't quite have that ring but it's a great point!!!! I guess Wild works right now, but as more and more types of Brett are isolated, documented and mass produced they certainly won't be wild anymore.

B-Dub
08/21/12 06:18 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
<<So I feel that I cannot enter homebrew comps but the beers I would be competing are certainly not made at work or with any assistance of work resources. For me, I feel it's a sticky situation.>>

I feel the same way. For about 10 years I brewed professionally and now have changed careers. Does that some how change the X factors for entering homebrewing comps? All my beer is made by me in the garage at home. Kind of a grey area. Although I have entered a few and might in the future.

As for sending in sours for comps I kind of stay away because of the swing in judges responses to other beers I have entered. One judge asked if I added fruit to a RIS! It was thick black and burly. I didn't even eat any fruit when I brewed it! Ha!Ha!

B-Dub

Smokinghole
08/22/12 06:56 AM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
I work at Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg PA. No sour beers there or at the 4 other restaurants with a brewery. I brew on a 35bbl system into 100bbl fermentors, the smaller places are 5bbl systems and one has a 7 bbl I believe.

I've thought about siphoning wort and souring it from our scottish ale because if we wanted to sour a few barrels we could easily produce some on a normal brew day.

However I make all my sours and all my beers on my back patio using a cooler mash tun and grain I buy at the homebrew store.

tankdeer
08/22/12 03:56 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
<<So I feel that I cannot enter homebrew comps but the beers I would be competing are certainly not made at work or with any assistance of work resources. For me, I feel it's a sticky situation.>>

I've seen it in a couple comps in the past where they do specifically state, as long as the beer is brewed at home, on homebrewing equipment, it doesn't matter if you're a pro-brewer or not. As you said, it's still homebrew, regardless of your career.

Tom
08/23/12 08:39 AM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
Comps are going to vary on the rules and regulations.

Comps, Judges, Quality of Judges, there is a lot of issues with comps especially with sours/brett beers. I enter a few every year, and I do enter some of my sours.

levifunk
08/30/12 01:02 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
This: http://www.beerinfo.com/index.php/pages/2012BestLambics.html

This is a problem. Anyone that drank Sprecher's Kriek and thought it was

1.) a lambic or belgian style beer

2.) a good representation of that style; worthy of award

........beyond me.

Tom
08/30/12 09:55 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
Don't some of those take into account size of brewery, sales, production?? etc...

A lot of those list are really messed up like that.

ssf
10/15/12 04:49 PM  
Re: Would you compete your precious American Wild
every time I bottle a batch of my long-term wild beers I set aside three 12 oz bottles to enter in an upcoming competition. that way I get to play the comp game a little and still keep the majority of my output.
 
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