Tuesday, August 6, 2013

2013 Beehive Brewoff Results

This year I entered 5 beers, but I also help judge the 600 entries. I had a great time judging and really learned a ton about the whole process. The first table I judged was Dark Lagers. Not a favorite style, but lucky almost every entry was a schwarzbier, which is one of the few lagers I can get into. The best part of that was I got to judge with Kevin Ely, head brewer at Uinta Brewing, Utah's best brewery. I learned a lot listening to his feedback and trying to find what he was tasting.

Even though I entered 5 beers, two were really for feedback and to help make a decision on what might be a lost cause.


Beer #1 American Pale Ale - A simcoe and cascade beer that I felt good about and thought would do ok, but realized it would face stiff competition.

Beer #2 Fruit Beer (Coconut Brown Ale) - I also felt good about this beer. I was somewhat worried as I only had enough in my keg to bottle 3 beers so I had no idea how well it would do from the bottle.

Beer #3 Specialty Ale- An all brett fermented beer. Very experimental in that it did not have any hops in the boil. Just flame out and dry hopped. Really good beer, but was unsure on how it would be received.

Beer #4 Wood aged beer- A Scottish Ale we fermented in a very used oak barrel from epic. This beer turned out nothing like what was planned. We did not plan on any brett, but there ended up being no way to stop the brett in the barrel from taking over. The base beer was also really flawed with a bad tannin issue. That said, I still wanted to enter it for feedback and to see if it might be worth holding onto the other 30 gallons I still have.

Beer #5 Oud Bruin - This was another sort of train wreck of a beer, but I was curious on how it would do. This started out as a herb'd honey brown ale for my wife. It never attenuated right and was super sweet. So I decided to throw a Belgian sour mix into it. It turned out almost good. The big issue with it was the finish. The herbs (heather, meadowsweet) had this overpowering bitter quality. I did not mention that the beer had any herbs in it.


Beer 1 American Pale - Score 30 

Judge Comments
  • Presents well, great aroma, Flavor a bit out of balance and oxidized aftertaste.
  • Needs more hop aroma/flavor. Oxidation detracts from other flavors.
I have none of this beer left. I bottled only 3 beers from a keg. Based on the comments I have to assume it was oxidized pretty badly. Before that occurred this was a good solid pale ale, although probably a bit old for the style. I figured it would score around 35.

Beer 2 Fruit Beer - Coconut Brown Ale - Score 39 (3rd Place)

Judge Comments
  • No base style specified but I am guessing brown porter. Aroma is very nice blend of chocolate, biscuit and coconut. Flavor features a drier chocolate and nice coconut character.
  • Nice beer. I would really like to know the base beer. I have to ding it slightly for not specifying but this is nicely balanced.
I did mess up here by forgetting to call out the style. Maybe it might have cost it a few points, but I doubt it would have made a difference in the end. I think this beer was just awesome. I felt it would do the best of all my beers even though I know the fruit category is pretty big. I used about 10% brown malt in this beer and have just fallen in love with this malt. It really brings an amazing coffee aroma and flavor. When this beer was still really fresh it was like Kona coffee and coconut.

Beer 3 Specialty Ale - Wild Ale - Score 41 (1st Place)

Judge Comments 
  • Well put together unique beer - nice work
  • WOW! Technically perfect. The hop addition is spot on. Much earlier would have ruined it. 
I love this beer, but was really unsure how it would do since it is quite out of style in terms of the BJCP guide. I used some cool techniques in this beer. Instead of the standard hop additions that count down from the start of boil, I did no boil additions. Rather I did additions where I counted down post boil. Call it a hop stand if you like. I added Mosaic hops over a 30 minute time frame from flame out. I also dry hopped with more mosaic and some nelson. I purposely did not call out a style on this one since I felt it could harm it in the judging process. 

Beer 4 wood aged beer - Barrel aged Wee heavy - Score 23

Judge Comments

  • I really like this beer. The only knock against it is I don't get much wood flavor. I think it might do better in a different category. I would order this at a bar, but for the sourness rather than the wood.
  • Great idea & I could see what you were going for but the Brett stripped most flavor and body leaving this fairly bland.
To me this beer is pretty terrible. Sometimes I drink it and think it's passable as a decent brett beer, and othertimes I just dump it out. Overall there are a number of issues with this beer. The first one is that it no longer seems to fit in any style. I agree there is really no wood flavor going on in this one. I still have 30+ gallons of this so I really wanted to know if I should hang on to it for long term aging. I know both the judges, they like funk in their beers. Based on these comments I have decided this beer is not worth saving.

Beer 5 Oud Bruin - Score 34

Judge Comments
  • A decent example that needs just a bit more tartness. There is some detectable hop flavor that is out of style.
  • Great base beer but you way over hopped it. The bitterness steals the show in the end. Dial those back and your on your way.
  • A nice malty, slightly toasty with a hint of sourness. Perhaps a bit too much hop but a well crafted brew.
If only that damn heather were not in this one! The high hop finish that was mentioned are not hops at all. It seems like that finishing flavor will not go away either! I have been sitting on this one for about 14-15 months and the flavor has only diminished very slightly. I am suprised it scored as high as it did. I don't have too much left so I will probably dump this one and try again with a true Oud Bruin in mind.

Scoring Guide
Outstanding - (45 - 50) - World-class example of style.
Excellent - (38 - 44) - Exemplifies style well, requires minor fine-tuning.
Very Good - (30 - 37) - Generally within style parameters, some minor flaws.
Good - (21 - 29) - Misses the mark on style and/or minor flaws.
Fair - (14 - 20) - Off flavors, aromas or major style deficiencies. Unpleasant.
Problematic - (0 - 13) - Major off flavors and aromas dominate. Hard to drink.