NHC 2011, Barking Dog Beer Entries
My last post discussed the upcoming National Homebrewers Competition I decided to enter this past week. This post will examine the thought process behind choosing which beers to enter.
While brewing in February, I had considered the fact that I would eventually be entering these recent batches in a 2011 competition, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. Nevertheless, upon tasting the first few bottles of my SaiSon of a Bitch batch last weekend, it was clear this one is definitely ready to compete, and turned out pretty damn good if I don’t say so myself. It is entered under the BJCP’s 16C Saison category.
It was a bit more of a challenge to pick my second entry. At first, I was going to go with the In the Name of doG batch, a18D Belgian Golden Strong honey ale. After reading the BJCP’s style guidelines for that beer, I got worried that the 1.5 lbs. of honey in that batch would shine through too much and I’d get docked points even though I think the beer appears to have turned out very well. The batch had only been bottled six days prior, but I got curious and popped open one bottle to really test it out. Personally, I thought I could taste the honey just a little bit, but it could have just been the bottling sugar (it was still flat, hadn’t re-attenuated yet). I had my wife try to pick out all the flavors she was tasking, neglecting to give her any clues. She didn’t call out honey, so that was a good sign. BUT… now I’m nervous that with my luck, this beer will get opened the first day of judging and won’t be carbonated well enough yet. Also, I’m guessing once the bottle is out of my hands and on the way to Madison that it won’t be in 70* temps anymore in order to allow for the yeast to finish off the bottling sugar. Too much of a risk…
I made the decision to change my 2nd entry and submit a bottle of Sccotin’ Scottie Ale, the Scottish Export 80/- batch I brewed in January. I was very pleased with that beer, so it was cool when my research of entry regulations revealed that colored bottle caps were not a disqualifying factor (I had previously thought the green bottle caps on that batch weredisqualifiers) and that I could just scratch out the “SSA” I’d written on the cap with marker and the bottle would be competition eligible. Glad I didn’t put paw prints on those bottles (I’ve stopped doing that out of sheer laziness – it’s a long process with little payoff!).
I picked the SSA over the CliffRed Lager because I didn’t use any clarifying agents and I feel like lagers aren’t often bottle conditioned so I’d probably be docked points before the beer was ever tasted based on it’s slightly opaque appearance. I had also considered entering the Off-leash Coffee Stout, but SSA won over that batch, as all the coffee stouts have paw prints on the bottles and are therefore ineligible for competition. That pretty much addresses each of the all-grain batches I’ve done so far, other than the Rabid IBA that is just nearly done with primary fermentation (1.013 Thursday night… c’mon almost there!!).
You can be sure I’ll post more about the competition once I get results in April/May. Whether or not I make it to finals, it’ll be interesting to get some expert feedback on my beers.