Saturday, December 5th brought Colorado home brewers the 1st Annual Biere de Rock HomeBrew Competition. The event was put on by the Rock Hoppers HomeBrew Club of Castle Rock, CO, and generously hosted by Dry Dock Brewing and The Brew Hut. The competition allowed only Belgian and French Ales, BJCP categories 16, 17, and 18, minus 17a. In all, 81 beers were entered into the competition; that is no small feat for a first-year competition, especially one covering only three categories. That speaks volumes in terms of what Colorado home brewers like to brew, and what a great job the Rock Hoppers did in promoting this event.
So, on to the lessons learned from a judge's perspective (a first-time judge no less). Beer judging is definitely subjective, but the more home brewing or commercial brewing knowledge one has, the easier it is to be subjective and also provide constructive feedback. At no point should a judge provide criticism without pointing out ways to identify and/or fix the problem noted on the score sheet. Another important thing to remember is, judge the beer against the style for which it has been entered. One interesting thing about this particular competiton: of ten entries in one sub-category, three were deemed out-of-style. What that means as a beer judge is, judge for its entered style but let the entrant know that it could or should be entered into another style. It also helps to let them know what that style may be.
Let us all look forward to next year's competition, in hopes that this competition continues to grow. It is not too early to start brewing in anticipation of this competition either.
Brew on Brewer!