Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Homebrew Competitions

Nordeast Big River Brew Fest homebrew competition results 2012

The Nordeast Big River Brew Fest homebrew competition, put on by my homebrew club (Nordeast Brewers Alliance), culminated with the sour/wild/brett beer judging and best-in-show judging today along with the announcement of winners for all categories. Check out the image below to see the winners of the competition: I picked up three medals, a silver and two bronze. Check out my scores and the feedback: (more…)


Feedback from the MN State Fair homebrew competition 2012

Big white State Fair ribbon is on the far right:

I got my official scores and ribbon this week from the MN State Fair 2012 homebrew competition. I noticed the judges generally gave  me lower scores this year than last year in this particular competition, yet this year I placed. This leads me to believe they scored everyone lower than last year. For instance, last year I entered five beers into this competition and scored 21.5, 33, 35, 36 and 37 yet I didn’t place in any of those categories. This year I entered four beers and my highest score of 33 was the only one to place. Funny, as 33 was my 2nd lowest score last year.

Here are my 2012 State Fair homebrew comp scores: (more…)

2012 Minnesota State Fair homebrew competition results

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Ok, so it’s not quite the victory I was hoping for. My Belgian Golden Strong didn’t place at the national round in the National Homebrew Competition, but just like last year, I’m happy to have advanced through regionals on to nationals. Though as consolation, I must say I was very happy to see my California Common win a “best of show” style session beer competition at my homebrew club’s summer BBQ. Check out the details here on the club’s blog.

The pic to the right is my beer being poured and distributed. Whatever I did with the carbonation on this one was correct, as it has a nice sustaining head without being overly carb’d. I’ll have to look back at my notes. (more…)

2nd place in the NHC 1st round

For the second year in a row, I have a beer going to the final round of the National Homebrew competition! This year, my In the name of doG scored a 38.5 out of 50 in category 18d, Belgian Golden Strong Ale (check out results for my region here), putting me in 2nd place within that category and affording me the opportunity to compete once again at the national level. As an experiment, I also entered this same beer in category 16e, Belgian Specialty Ale, where it scored 33. This beer has competed in category 16e twice in the past where it scored 33.5 (Upper Mississippi Mashout 2012) and 35 (MN State Fair 2011). Looks like category 18d is a better fit, even though some of the non-malt fermentables in this recipe came from honey instead of solely candi sugar as would be more fitting to style.

I’m very excited to be shipping my beer to Seattle for judging on 6/21. There were 7,823 entries submitted by 1,735 different homebrewers in round one this year. As cool as that sounds, I must admit that those numbers are essentially divided into 10 different U.S. and one Canadian region. Within each region, brewers have 28 categories in which to submit fermented beverages. There were a total of 31 entries in category 18d, so the truth of it is I got 2nd place in that particular grouping. Still something to be proud of, for sure.

The other two beers I entered were my pumpkin rye ale and chocolate cherry stout, both of which performed decently, but at the minimal level I expect of myself. I know exactly what went wrong with the cherry stout (fermented too hot, thus it’s a bit tannic and boozy) but just wanted to see the judges confirm/deny (confirmed). As far as the pumpkin rye goes, I brewed it last July and I think it’s just lost it’s rye luster (experimenting with an Irish ale yeast normally reserved for Stout probably didn’t help much either) and they noted it wasn’t quite hoppy enough for an amber (I’d entered it this time as an amber ale-based beer per feedback from the Upper Mississippi Mashout competition) so the judges didn’t get out of the beer what I set them up to expect by labeling this as a pumpkin spice rye amber ale. Oh well. (more…)

2012 National Homebrew Competition entries

Just as I did a year ago, I’ve again entered some of my beers into the National Homebrew Competition. Minneapolis is fortunate this year to be the judging site for one of the nine regions in the U.S. Last year, I had to make sure my first round entries got to Madison, WI to be judged (and later shipped one that got first place at regionals to nationals to San Diego, CA). With the help from a member of the St. Paul Homebrewers Club, fortunately that wasn’t a problem. Easy peasy this year. Just need to drop them off at Northern Brewer.

This year, I’m entering my In the name of doG Belgian honey ale in category 16e (Belgian Specialty ale) and 18d (Belgian Strong ale) to see where it does best, also entering CUJO SPICE v2.1 pumpkin rye ale in category 21 (spice/herb/vegetabel beer) and Snot Snout Stout, my chocolate cherry stout in category 20 (fruit beer). This will be the first competition for Snot, the second for CUJO v2.1 and the third for doG. The feedback I’m getting in competition is very informative, so I’m trying to enter my favorite batches in multiple competitions to help me refine recipes before I re-brew.

From L to R: Snot Snout chocolate cherry stout, CUJO SPICE v2.1 pumpkin rye ale, In the name of doG Belgian honey ale (x2)


Upper Mississippi Mashout results – Pumpkin rye ale

Recently I published a post dissecting feedback I received on my Belgian honey ale at the Upper Mississippi Mashout homebrew competition. That was just one of the three beers I entered. In today’s post, I will go on to detail feedback I received on another entry, CUJO SPICE v. 2.1 pumpkin rye ale (brewed July ’11), BJCP category 21A, spice/herb/vegetable beer.

This pumpkin rye ale, the better batch of the two versions I brewed last summer, scored worse than I anticipated. I received a 27 from a BJCP “certified” judge and a 32 from a BJCP “national” judge. I can at least be glad I got the higher score from the judge with more experience. None the less, my score averages to just 29.5. Yes, I think some recipe tweaks are in order but I think this batch is quite tasty and that my execution was decent. It deserves to be in the 30’s. Since this was the first competition this beer has been in, I’ve entered it in the upcoming National Homebrew Competition (NHC) to get a few more opinions before I re-brew it this summer.

Here’s the feedback recap: (more…)

Upper Mississippi Mashout results – Belgian golden honey ale

I recently entered three of my beers in the 2012 Upper Mississippi Mashout, which this year became the second largest homebrew competition in the world right behind the National Homebrew Competition.

Here, you can find the official 2012 Upper Mississippi Mashout competition results. In forthcoming posts, I will recap feedback my three entries received from the judges, one of whom was Gordon Strong, current President of the BJCP, the organization that publishes universally accepted beer style guidelines. This was very exciting. The President of the group that literally defines beer styles tasted one of my beers, and happened to think reasonably well of it! Very cool.

In today’s post, I’ll dissect feedback received on In the name of doG (brewed Feb. ’11), BJCP category 16E, Belgian Specialty Ale. (more…)

Upper Mississippi Mashout 2012

I entered three beers into the Upper Mississippi Mashout this year:

Byggvir’s Big Beer Cup homebrew competition

This past weekend, I took the highest scoring beer from the five that I entered into the State Fair competition and entered it in Byggvir’s Big Beer Cup, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival’s homebrew competition. My amber fermented with kölsch yeast (Burning Bridges Amber Ale) will compete at Byggvir’s in the same category as it did for the State Fair competition, Category 23 – specialty beer.