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Friday, November 03, 2017

Topeka Hall of Foamers Competition

I don't get to drink beer like I used to. I'm down about 30 pounds since being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, but damn I miss bread and beer.

To make matters worse, I'm a National rank BJCP beer judge (with enough experience points I really need to study up on the new guidelines and retest to get Master rank). And on top of the beer, at homebrew competitions, they feed you like hobbits. First breakfast, second breakfast, elevensees, etc.

But while I've largely cut out the carbs in my diet (which means drinking shitty beer when I drink beer because aside from hops, the defining characteristic of good beer is goddamn carbs), I do allow myself a splurge maybe once a week. And this week's splurge was judging the Topeka Hall of Foamer's Brew Bash. It's a small competition, almost 200 entries, which when you consider there's over 30 categories means some creative combining of categories to make flights work out. I hadn't judged in a small competition for a while, and I screwed up just a little.

In my first flight, it was all self-contained. There was no mini-BOS (a best of show for the flight, like when you have 30 IPAs, split it up between three panels of judges, then have the senior judge from each panel sit down and figure out first-second-third). This is the norm for a lot of categories in competitions with 600+ entries.

So after a pizza lunch (talk about off my diabetic menu, I hadn't had a slice since RAGBRAI in July), the second flight gets going and I had a really nice raspberry Berlinerweiss in a 29A. I think I scored it a 47, which is damn near perfect. We're not there to consume, mind you, we're evaluating. But rather than let a half bottle of heaven go down the sink, I poured the remainder of the bottle into a cup to have after the flight.

Then a couple of entries later I realized they had split this category into two sub-flights. Which usually means a mini-BOS, and if we had to pull the second bottle for a mini-BOS, there wouldn't be a bottle for the overall Best of Show judging. I felt like a heel. When I told the organizer, though, he didn't seem to see the problem.

He wasn't planning on a mini-BOS, the size of the competition and number of judges, he was ready to just take the top three assigned scores without one, which is logical, just not what I was used to.

And best of show judging being what it is (and I did judge best of show), the raspberry Berlinerweiss din't really go anywhere anyway.

It's a testament to the overall quality of homebrew competition entries. When I got into this scene over 20 years ago, entries were poison until proved otherwise. Here's a 197 entry competition with an upper 40s beer that doesn't make the Best of Show podium. There's a lot of homebrewers out there with amazing amounts of game.

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