sw_homebrew_jdg.jpg
Comments from members of the Seattle Beer Collective from yesterday afternoon:

Beer #30: "Did you drink it yet?" "...Yeah. It made me nip out."

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Seattle Weekly Homebrew Contest Judging Notes

sw_homebrew_jdg.jpg
Comments from members of the Seattle Beer Collective from yesterday afternoon:

Beer #30: "Did you drink it yet?" "...Yeah. It made me nip out."

Beer #18: "What's it like?" "I dunno. Weird. Like a grandma." *

* Chamomile does not belong in a Belgian witbier.

Grrgrlglrglrl...It took a couple of Spaten Optimators to rinse out after the two-and-a-half-hour tasting session for Seattle Weekly's first -- and hopefully annual -- Home Brew Competition. Judging a pie-eating contest is easy. How bad can any pie be? Now, with beer, sometimes a funny thing happens on the way into the bottle -- a million little microscopic things, actually. It can go either very right or very wrong.

We had entries come in from as far as Nevada, and they covered every style from lager to ale, with even a sour beer or two. Sitting with the rowdy Seattle Beer Week crew, we confronted things as disparate as a lager-porter and a schwarzbier submitted as an ale. (Beer geeks know these things are inconceivable!) We had a few six-packs of really well-made beers and a ton more that had a great recipe but just fell short on a component or two. That's a fantastic showing in a homebrew competition, because brewing beer, especially if you don't do it regularly, is freaking hard.

Our method of judging kept it simple. We scored each beer on several criteria, such as carbonation, body, and esters. A beer could hit the acceptable target, gain a point for exceeding that goal, or lose a point for not hitting the mark.

If you've ever baked bread, you have a good idea of what it's like to brew a small batch of beer. Every step with each ingredient -- even if you only have four -- can contribute to success or failure. Taking on a rare style like a Baltic porter is like trying to make pumpernickel -- not easy. It takes trial after trial with a recipe to tweak everything and get it just right. Or right enough. These homebrewers get an A for effort, the quality of ingredients used, and ambition. (But remember, malt extract never doesn't taste like malt extract. Blech.)

We'll unveil the winner and the winning brew, which White Center's Big Al Brewing will produce, on October 17 at Brouwer's Cafe in Fremont.

A special thanks to all of our judges: Alejandro Brown - Big Al Brewing, John Guinasso - Tap Handles, Burc McFarlan - Odom, Peter Twigg - 99 Bottles, Tim Hayner - BJCP Sanctioned Judge, Nat Pellman - Brouwers/Seattle Beer Collective, Mike Baker - Pacific Beverages/Seattle Beer Collective, Ian Roberts - Brouwers/Seattle Beer Coalition, Matt Younts - Click Imports/Seattle Beer Collective

 
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