I’m pretty sure I’m not the only brewer out there who is a little biased while reviewing the fruits of their labor.
- after spending hours milling, mashing, sparging, boiling, and cooling, results that taste anything close to beer are most likely celebrated. in addition, friends and family who enjoy the fruits of the homebrewer’s labor may be reluctant to offer even the slightest criticism, as a result of politeness or perhaps a desire to maintain a steady stream of homemade libations.
- however, constructive criticism resulting from accurate observations of a beer’s characteristics can only help to improve future incarnations of such beer. even casual drinkers unfamiliar with the BJCP style guidelines can help by summarizing significant elements they observe in a neutral manner (e.g., “I smell a lot of grass and flowers,” “this beer tastes like bread,” “it smells like a dirty diaper,” etc.)
- in my case, I was able to review some valuable criticism when I got my OC fair beer comp scoresheets back in the mail. the reviews ran the gamut – some were written by BJCP certified judges, some by fellow homebrewers; some were thorough and offered suggestions, while others were painfully sparse and overly general (and frankly worthless). scores ranged from a 9 (saison) to a 35 (golden strong).
- reading these score sheets opened my eyes to some overlooked “defects” in my beers and prompted me to impartially review my current draft lineup. in the interests of progress, I also made note of some potential modifications that could be used to overcome identified undesirables.
dry irish stout
light coffee nose, thin body, slight tang in finish, poor head retention
mash higher for more malt/body, use a bigger starter, use 2-row instead of pils, longer boil
dry finish, “delicate” floral/spice aroma
mash higher, higher fermentation temp for more phenols, use different yeast (german hef or belgian wit instead of trappist strain)
dry apple cider
dry champagne nose, tart apple flavor with tart, dry finish, very champagne like
experiment with other yeast strains that are less dominant/highlight the apples more and don’t attenuate as much (beer strains, etc.)
saison/belgian specialty ale/sour ale
fruity/sour aroma, clean barnyard funk with smooth sourness, slight oxidation
modifications:enter in a more relevant judging category(even though fantome is an example of the BJCP saison category)/explain beer in notes, higher initial fermentation temps and more dregs earlier during fermentation, purge carboy with CO2 when adding dregs
- hopefully objective tasting sessions like these will lead to an improved experience for everyone involved, even if I don’t brew with competitions specifically in mind. constructive criticism shouldn’t hurt any brewer’s feelings!