The scoresheets came back from the first competition we’ve entered so far in 2013 (Upper Mississippi Mashout). As I said in an earlier post, this is supposed to be one of the best judged competitions of the year so I wasn’t really sure what to expect having not entered this one before (or possibly even a competition as well ran/judged as this one).
The results were posted sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning (I checked when I woke up) and the scoresheets were apparently mailed out right away, but there was a postage issue and they had to resend them all out last weekend – no big deal, still had within about 10 days of the competitions which is plenty fast.
We ended up with 1 gold (Mild 3.0), 2 silvers (Scottish 70/- and IIPA) and 1 beer that didn’t place (APA 2.0). I talk about each beers in the post linked in the top paragraph as well as other posts so I won’t go into great detail in this post.
The Mild that got 1st (39.5) is one that I don’t like and neither has anyone else that has tried it so far. Apparently it’s a good example of the style though, but I won’t brew that recipe again. I am going to enter it in NHC though since it did fairly well and I don’t know what else to do with the rest of the batch. The judges stated it could improve with a little more fruity ester complexity – that’s the problem with competing in the English styles- if they don’t taste like fruit-cake you will hear about it on your scoresheets, I just like my English beers with very limited ester character so I won’t be changing that.
The Scottish 70/- got 2nd (41 adjusted to 39) and was noted to be slightly over carbonated which detracted from the malt flavor – I blame my piece of shit regulator, but ultimately that’s my fault and overcarbonation is something I’m almost never accused of (quite the contrary…). One judge thought it had a little too much roasted grain and slight diacetyl (from WLP001?!?) – this was Jamil’s recipe and I probably wouldn’t tweak much if/when I rebrew it.
The IIPA got 2nd (37 adjusted to 43!) was the 2nd time I brewed a Pliny clone with some minor changes. One judge thought it had too much hop flavor and aroma, the other thought it needed more hop flavor and aroma. Both seemed to like the beer though, but the aroma was a bit subdued from the last batch which, I think, came from using gelatin. Based on the timelines though I had to use it and it really does make the beer sparkle. I think I’ll try to not use gelatin on APAs, IPAs and IIPAs when I can help it though.
The APA didn’t place (28.5) and that really surprised me as I thought it was about as classic of an APA as you can get. It also tasted really clean and I didn’t pick up any flaws. The judges thought it had too much diacetyl, which I either am not sensitive to or the judges maybe had some on their palates from a beer earlier in the flight – I’m not out to make excuses, but it’s got to be one or the other.
I will have to dig in and figure out how to adjust my process if I’m throwing off diacetyl and not picking it up myself. The yeast in question is WLP002, which I’ve had diacetyl comments from in several batches now and it is a pretty notorious strain for diacetyl, but it is still precious to me and I will fight through this.
I’m brewing a Special Bitter this week and the APA (with some adjustments) in 2 weeks both for NHC and both with WLP002 so I need to make some adjustments immediately starting with going from a 1L starter to 1.5L and probably doing my D rest earlier in fermentation than I have been (instead of when krausen drops I think I’ll do this about a day after high krausen (probably 2.5-3 days from pitching). I think I will also rouse the fermenter as I ramp up the temp – not sure what else to do besides leave the beer on the yeast a bit longer (I usually give these about 10 days from pitching, maybe I’ll go closer to 2 weeks). I sent an email to White Labs, but I don’t know if they’ll respond or, if they do, if it will be real constructive.
There are a couple more competitions coming up (this Saturday and next Saturday) so I’m hoping to have more scoresheets back before tweaking my process too much. This kind of feedback is part of the reason I enter competitions – if I truly don’t detect diacetyl (which some people are not sensitive to) than I may be serving friends/family buttery slick beer which is unacceptable, but I wouldn’t have known without getting feedback. I’ll know more once I see the results from the next 2 competitions, but it has identified some simple things I can do to reduce the amount of diacetyl that ends up in the finished product.
I’m still looking for more gold and hopefully a BOS or two this year, stay tuned readers.