Upper Mississippi Mashout- Judge Not, Until You Judge Yourself

I attended the Upper Mississippi Mashout (homebrew competition) this weekend at the Grumpy's in St. Paul. It was a great learning experience in that I learned what it takes to get good honest feedback and criticism from a beer judge at a homebrew competition. What you need to do, is try your hardest to brew a style of beer according to the Beer Style Guidelines. If you brew ‘to style’ then this could be a very good way to get objective feedback on your beer.

I didn't submit any of my beers to the competition for a few reasons. Reason #1 was that all of my bottle conditioned beers were from when I was brewing from Extract. I've completely shifted to All-Grain now and my GimmeThatNut Brown ale wasn’t quite ready for consumption. It probably would’ve done pretty good in the Northern English Brown Ale category though. My extract beers were good, but they aren't a good representation of the beers I’m brewing now. Reason #2 goes along with #1, in that, the only reason I would enter one of these contests is to get the feedback from the judges in order to better my brewing process. Obviously a medal would be welcome and worn around my neck for weeks if not months, but that’s not the goal. Being critiqued by a Grand Master Beer Judge is invaluable in helping anyone improve their brewing process and discovering shortcomings. There’s also something to be said about the average rube liking or disliking your beer, even more so then a beer judge. If it tastes good, drink it, that’s how my dog feels.

I don't think I'll ever be a beer judge, but I completely appreciate and encourage the people that are and strive to be beer judges. It's not as glamorous as it sounds, whoamikidding, you have to look at the beer, smell it, TASTE IT, and then you have to write down your thoughts. That's the hard part, expressing what you just tasted, and explaining how that does or doesn't represent that particular style of beer. If it’s good, you can taste it again, but, if it’s bad, you also have to taste it again.

What I AM going to do is join my local Home Brew clubs (mnbrewers.com, and www.sphbc.org), because these 'beer geeks' are really passionate, helpful, cool people with open arms, and I want to hang with them! I'm seeking people out to help me drink and brew better alcoholic beverages!

A side note: I'm pretty sure my Nut Brown would've taken best of show. My dog loves it, and so does my Uncle.

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