To Judge or Not to Judge

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by jeffpn, Oct 4, 2017.

?

Have you ever entered one of your own homebrews into a competition?

  1. Yes

    46.2%
  2. No

    53.8%
  1. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    No correct answer here, but I’m curious. How many brewers here don’t care to have a judge’s opinion on the beer that they brew? Again, if competitions are your thing, by all means, enter them!

    For the record, I’ve never entered a competition, and I doubt I ever will. The only person who I need to like my brews is me.
     
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  2. skyblue67

    skyblue67 New Member

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    I've entered a few and I also share beers with other local homebrewers. I think it's good to get feedback.
     
  3. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I've entered several and won a few.... I value the feedback I get from people who at least nominally know their stuff and don't know whose beer they're sampling. It helps me fill in my blind spots and improve my ability to hit a target, which is really all a style means to me.
     
  4. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    I get the reasons for having a beer judged. When I made my first batches some twenty years ago, I asked my neighbor who was a trained judge for his opinion. Somehow, I lost the interest in knowledgeable opinions. I’m a very casual brewer. I’m not interested in what it takes for a beer to fit into a style. I just like it to taste good to me, and for friends to enjoy drinking when they come over. I’m pretty sure many of you know enough about me by now to know that I don’t care for all of the terms associated with brewing, water conditioning, etc. Again, nothing wrong with being interested in all that. If you aim to have a technically good beer, you have to have it judged. I had a feeling that I’m probably pretty much alone in not caring to enter a competition. As it stands right now, I’m wrong 3-2. The majority (slim as it is) haven’t entered a competition either. But they may, who knows?
     
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  5. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I've entered and judged a few beers. I can tell you that fitting into a style isn't where most fall short. Stylistic points count for less than do brewing and packaging faults. Many beers that I sampled for judging purposes didn't even get to the finer points of style before not making the cut in terms of just being a beer you'd want to drink. It's not just fitting the (sometimes) narrow limitations of style that's an important outcome of competition entry, but knowing that you're brewing beers that are clean, well-executed and without major faults. And if you're getting feedback from folks who are more experienced, you can make improvements, if needed.

    As for brewing beers that your friends enjoy drinking...that's a pretty low bar. It's free beer! What's not to like? :D
     
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  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    No, you're not wrong. Nor are those of us who enter. Knowing what I do about power of suggestion - if I offer you a beer and tell you it tastes like roses, chances are you will notice the rose flavor EVEN IF IT ISN'T THERE - blind judging - judging where the only input is the beer itself - is of great value to me. I think judging would be better if the judges didn't know the style being judged, even less expectation, more evaluation of the actual beer being presented. I also know how easy it is to influence drinkers. I once dyed a beer to make it dark, served the beer side-by-side with the original to some fairly sophisticated beer drinkers, and got different results. It was even fun to watch. People would scrunch up their faces as if they knew something wasn't quite right, then rate the beers completely differently. Also, I like winning. There, I've said it, those medals are valuable to me as well. It's not wrong not to compete, nor is it right to compete, it's just a choice, like IPA vs. Helles.
     
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  7. BoomerBrian

    BoomerBrian Active Member

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    I have never entered but haven't gotten to a point where I feel like my beers are worthy of some feedback to see where I am still falling short.
     
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  8. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Entered my first comp back in May partook as a learner judge (my scores didnt count). And just loved sitting around with other hombrewers evaluating beer chewing the fat. Will do again. i think its the curiosity of, i wonder how this beer would score in a comp?
     
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  9. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    I still can’t justify paying a fee for someone to drink my beer (that’s even better than free beer from their point of view!) and then losing a bottle. I’m into this hobby exactly as I want to be. We all are, or we’re headed there if we hope to have knowledgeable people critique our beer.
     
  10. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. I like what I brew, and that’s as far as I want to go. I’m sure I could make a better beer. I’m sure we all could. That’s a road that has no end to it. As I said earlier, I’m a casual brewer. J A, you’re thoughts are not wrong. My thoughts are 180° (American or Metric) apart. Amazingly, we are both exactly correct!
     
  11. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    Brewing beer at home is a fairly broad category. Some brew because they can't afford commercial beer, while others brew to compete. We all fall somewhere in between.

    For now, I only brew because I enjoy every aspect, from researching a recipe to killing off a keg and everywhere in between. And I really don't see myself competing as it's just not my thing. Now that may change as I (and my wife) evolve and continue our beloved hobby (albeit just less than a year now) to a point where we may want to go down the path of competing, but for now, and at the risk of not getting good feedback from judging for improving our hobby, I am quite content drinking beer that we make, and that we feel is far superior to commercial beers that we used to buy. And so far, every beer we've brewed tastes like another gold medal!
     
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  12. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

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    I wish I had the time, but the answer is no, my good beer goes too fast, I don't even give that to the club, its mine! ;)
     
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  13. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    In the end, if you like the beer you make and share than that's great and all that matters.
    But, you asked the question, so there must be an underlying question.
    Brewing beer is a great hobby as is golf and many others. If someone gave you a suggestion that helped you shoot better, would you take it? If so, then why not enter 1 and hear what someone else has to say?
     
  14. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    Mash, you sound like you have the same approach as me.

    Brew Mentor, no underlying question, except what I previously mentioned. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one brewing who doesn’t care to get a judge’s opinion. I was curious if anyone else felt like me. As far as your golf analogy, whether I took the advice might depend on whether I asked for it. Advice seems to bombard, in my opinion. It’s hard for me to do my day job without hearing how the next guy would do it. Every day. My local homebrew club is the same way. The only guy who knows the correct way to brew is the guy that I’m currently talking to, and he starts by telling me that the last guy he just heard talking to me is all wrong. Move on to the next personn, and the process starts again. I’m not saying that I never ask for tips or advice. You guys know I do. But I’m not always asking for advice. I like my process, and I like my beer. And I like talking about brewing, with fellow brewers, and other people who are interested.
     
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  15. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    Then my first statement is all that matters, to you, anyways.
    Funny thing is, I no longer enter competitions because I have my license, but I get and value others opinions now more than ever.
    Some of my best friends are competent brewers and judges and aren't at all concerned about hurting my feelings. These are opinions I value most because I learn from them and in the end, I feel that I get better at my craft. For me, that's the goal.
    Cheers and keep brewing!
    Brian
     
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  16. MrBIP

    MrBIP Active Member

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    I have entered 2 or 3 bigger BJCP contests each year over the past few, won nothing. Scores good, but there's always something. Nit picky on defined style conformity. Enter smaller local "open" contests, not looking at style conformity and do well. Just won another one at the local craft beer festival. Probably sharing about 1/2 of what I brew and like getting feedback from within the local casual club, coworkers, family, etc. The only downside to this type of feedback is not very many will tell you the truth. There's only a few I can count on to give it to me straight. ... so local wide open, blind contests, good feedback, more general, win some, don't win some. Bigger BJCP official stuff, nit-picky to style conformity, decent scores, but never quite good enough. Friends, acquaintances, family, generally not honest, too nice. What's a homebrewer to do? Probably just brew what you like, share what you feel you want to, with whom you want to and RDWHAHB.
     
  17. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Hear! Hear! It's far too easy to find accolades from appreciative friends and relatives. Either they think you're looking for compliments or they might just not be particularly discerning. Or, as I noted in another post, many simply think that "homebrew" is supposed to be assessed differently from pro-brewed craft beer. I'm really lucky to have a core group of trusted fellow brewers in my brew club who are willing to be be honest about offering feedback and, in fact, perfectly willing to completely trash a beer (in a fun and good-natured way) when it deserves it. :)
     
  18. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    Another way to put my question would be, “How many people here don’t care at all what others think of your homebrew? As long as you like what you made, you are happy.”

    I’d be in that group. I doubt I’d ever defect. I still feel it’s a much smaller group.

    Again, nothing wrong with either camp. There are as many ways to fully enjoy this hobby as there are people brewing their own beer.
     
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  19. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    RDWHAHB! As I said in my previous post, at the moment, I'm not interested in competitions. I do applaud those who do enter their beer into competitions as I am sure it's very rewarding to have your beer win a medal and getting feedback (do they give feedback at competitions if your beer doesn't medal?). But this brings me to why I started homebrewing almost a year ago (when I started researching before I purchased anything). I think it's a very fun hobby. Especially for me as my wife and I are empty nesters and she loves to brew as much as I do, and we look forward to brewday as much as we enjoy chatting about our hobby. My first goal was to simply see if you could make beer as good or better then commercial beers. That question has been answered with a resounding "Yes!" From there, our world opened up to the craft brew industry and all the different styles of beer we could try and then either find a similar beer kit from Northern Brewer (love those guys), or find an online recipe and get all our grains, hops and yeast from our local HBS. Consequently, we have been able to enjoy home brew that rivals craft brews that we like. Again, maybe someday down the road my wife and I might dabble in competitions. Heck, when we are the county fair this summer, we stopped into one of the competition booths and there were A bunch of beer entered into the county fair competition and the winning brews were all lined up with their ribbons. It did get us to thinking about submitting one to the county fair next year, but that's as far as that went and haven't thought about it until now while writing this reply. I wish all the luck in the world to those wanting to enter competitions and seek feedback from folks beyond family and friends, but for now, me and my friends and family will have to enjoy what we make, or BYOB to our next gathering.
     
  20. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    There's really no right or wrong answer here: Some of us are willing to "pay" for feedback (although I do sometimes enter free competitions). That's blind, objective as sensory evaluation can be, and anonymous. When I give experienced drinkers one of my beers, they inevitably ask what I'm giving them. I've learned to tell them, "I'll let you know after you've tasted it," because, extreme case, I can tell a person I've put peppers in a Helles and they will taste the peppers, even if the closest that's been to a pepper is the distance from my kettle to a supermarket. So if I don't tell them in advance, I get better feedback. As to the feedback from casual beer drinkers at a backyard party, I like it when they say, "Hey, dude, this is better than I get in the stores," but aside from ego stroking, how valuable is that feedback? It's like having your mom read your draft short story, the feedback will inevitably be good.
     
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