Sunday, November 13, 2016
Land of the Muddy Waters
Just got back from the Quad Cities. I'd only ever been to Davenport once, and that time I arrived by bicycle and didn't stay much longer than it took to dip my tires in the Mississippi.
But I got one of those emails BJCP beer judges get, 'calling all judges.' About twenty years ago I got into the Beer Judge Certification Program, my friend John paid my test fee in fact (I was going to put it off because fifty dollars). And as a National rank judge, I've found that while 350+ days of the year my credentials impress nobody, the handful of days where I can show up to sanctioned beer competitions I'm always warmly welcomed.
And when I noticed the email, I was working too much because of the election and realized that this competition would be right after the election when the insanity at work should settle down. And I needed to get away.
It helped that I knew I'd see some familiar faces, there's several judges from Davenport, Rock Island, etc., who regularly make the drive to Kansas City to help judge the Kansas City Bier Meisters competition.
I was going to do the motel thing, but staying at the Indy Hostel for the Indiana Brewer's Cup taught me to look for better ways than that. Motels are kinda expensive, but an even bigger issue is, especially when you're traveling alone, they're fucking depressing. Let's see, go back to a home where people are being social and shit or go back to an isolation chamber with cable television?
I need to learn to travel lighter for these things though. I realized this as I carried my bags to my car, I was going away for two nights and had a full duffel, my laptop bag and my camera bag loaded to the brim. I only used one lens to shoot the handful of shots I took at the competition, and only used one speedlight (coulda used nine, the room we were judging in was pretty dark). Of course, if I hadn't brought my camera I wouldn't have these pictures, including the two up top of Allison, who's not just photogenic but every bit as interesting as her hair.
I didn't find a hostel to stay at but next best thing, one of the judge's houses. Just a quick email and a 'lumpy futon' was offered that turned out to come with a proper breakfast and everything.
Some good flights in this competition, too. Land of the Muddy Waters had, I think they said, 300 entries so that's a medium sized competition. I judge a couple of flights of various European lager categories where the worst entries were like 31 point entries. The Vienna lager I gave a 47 to ended up winning best of show. When I got into this, entries were poison until proven otherwise and gushers were common. I think the internet has helped a lot as far as the availability of good knowledge and techniques. I also think there are some guys who are very deep in the dork forest, willing to make 30 batches of a style you can easily buy that's actually pretty tricky to make at home until they nail it.
I didn't get to experience Quad Cities Style Pizza which I was variously told by people was awesome or disgusting, but I did get a little Whitey's Ice Cream before the long drive back.