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BUZZ Off 2010

Last Saturday May 22, 2010 was the 2010 BUZZ Off homebrew competition held at Iron Hill Brewery’s West Chester location.

For many of the local homebrew competitions I try to judge or enter beers or both. This was one of the examples where I was both able to judge and enter beers. The beers I entered were an American Amber Ale as an American Amber, the FCX as an American IPA, and Vader as an Imperial Stout. I’ll talk about how the beers did and what the judges had to say in second, but for now I’ll talk about my day judging a little bit first.

So a “typical” judging day (is there such a thing?) is suppose to start around 9AM and wrap up around 5PM with the awards to follow. So I drove up to West Chester and got to Iron Hill around 8:45, with judging not starting until almost 9:30. In the morning I was to judge Belgian and French Ales with 36 entries. We were suppose to have six judges, thus three pairs, so 12 beers per pair. That’s a pretty big flight, but not outrageous. Two of the six judges didn’t show … So now we’re at 18 beers per pair, much bigger. In the category fell Witbiers, Saisons, Biere de Gardes, and Belgian Specialty Beers. The Belgian Specialty Beers were over half of the entries, ugh. Basically a Belgian Specialty Beer can REALLY be anything, as long as the brewer feels it has merit to be there. In my opinion, and for what I can remember, the Wits were OK, the Saisons were good, the Biere de Gardes were meh, and the Belgian Specialties were all over the place with the clear winners/favorites being some of the nicer Brett infused beers. I believe 2 out of 3 of the winners were Brett Beers. I must note though, the table next to us had Larry Horowitz the head brewer from that Iron Hill location, and his partner and himself  hopped over and did about 6 beers with us lightening our load, that was cool.

Our table ran late since we had so many beers, so lunch was a little light and a little fast, buffet style with some pizza, pasta, and salad. Not bad, but when we used to be able to get sandwiches that was cooler, but hey lunch is lunch. In the afternoon I judged Wood-Aged and Smoked beer, oh no, the palate destroyer … I was with four people for this one with I believe 20 entries, so 10 per pair. I was paired up with this guy Chris I hadn’t met before, but after we had talked for a while I realized that we had very similar senses of humor and before I knew it we had everyone within earshot baggin up at out shenanigans. The wood and smoked beers were all over the place; from tasting like cookies, to table leg, to vanilla, to camp fire, to bacon … it’s a tough category. And there was at least two beers that basically tasted like bourbon. In the end the afternoon went quicker than the morning, though neither category was easy. After judging I tried to hang for a bit to see how long things were going to go and to grab my score sheets, but it was already about 5PM and they still needed to do the Best of Show round which easily takes an hour. So I tried to get my sheets, but they weren’t ready so I dipped.

But, my score sheets came in the mail yesterday so now I can see how I did, and here’s the breakdown for you too:

  • Amber Ale – American Amber – 31/33 = 32 – Very Good – Judge #1: “Very good beer, but may be oxidized a bit.” Judge #2: “Pretty nice drinking beer. Malty sweetness is prominent, but tempered by a very long bitterness of citrus and resin.”
  • FCX – American IPA – 25/20 = 22.5 – Good – Judge #1: “This is a hop bomb! The high bitterness isn’t supported by the malt, try cutting back on bittering hops.” Judge #2: “Good color, lots of hop flavor and bitterness, though you may want to decrease bitterness.”
  • Vader – Imperial Stout – 43/44 = 43.5 – Excellent- 2nd Place for Stouts Category (30 entries) – Judge #1: “If this was my beer I would horde it to myself without sacrificing bottles to competitions – thanks for sharing this excellent beer.” Judge #2: “Wow!! Awesome beer. Well aged, this tastes like it was conditioned for well over a year. Well done!”

So basic break down: cool, weak, and pretty rad :). The Amber’s scores are kind of what I expected, it’s a decent beer just not a shining example. It’s actually one of my favorite types of beer, slightly sweet with Crystal Malt and still nice and hoppy. The FCX was beat up points-wise a little bit, but the judges comments weren’t very off. So it makes me wonder if it was just a low scoring pair of judges. And finally, Vader, was well recognized for what it was, the judges really liked it which made me happy. Those are actually the last 2 bottles I am going to sacrifice, since I am down to only 4 bottles I think. I suppose it could have been worth the sacrifice. Guess it’s time to brew another Imperial Stout soon!

One Response to “BUZZ Off 2010”

  1. David Says:

    Congrats on the #2 in stouts

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