Monday, September 26, 2016

How to become a BJCP judge

I’ve been a pretty hardcore craft beer enthusiast for quite a long time; in fact, I’ll be celebrating the eighth anniversary of Chad’z Beer Reviews next week. Additionally, this November will mark five years that I’ve been homebrewing. But one thing that I never got around to doing until recently was joining the Beer Judge Certification Program. I’ll explain why in detail in the next blog, but for now, let me tell you what the path to becoming a BJCP involves. NOTE: BJCP can be a recursive term used to describe someone who is a judge certified by the BJCP.
bjcp.org
bjcp.org

The BJCP is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering, educating and improving the homebrewing hobby. The organization is best known for its style guidelines which state how a beer of a particular style should smell, look, taste and feel based on traits found in top commercial examples of the style. These guidelines are intended to be a rubric for competitions so that judges all have a common reference from which to award points rather than going by their own personal/subjective/hedonistic preferences.

The BJCP is also concerned with teaching the basics of zymurgy – the actual science of brewing chemistry and biology. You don’t have to know the intricate minutia that a professional brewer would, but they expect you to have a good understanding of all the variables that go into making beer. For example, we all know beer is made from malted barley, but do you know what exactly malting is and what it does for brewing? Do you know the difference between well-modified and unmodified malts and at what temperatures they must be mashed to be utilized properly? Do you know the different types of mashes and which are ideal for which styles? Do you know how yeast actually turns wort into beer? Do you know what causes faults like dimethyl sulfide, diacetyl, and acetaldehyde (among others)? You’ll need to know these things if you want to become a BJCP.

In order to “join the club,” you have to pass two exams. The first is a 180-question online exam which concentrates heavily on the BJCP style guidelines and Zymurgy 101, with BJCP judging protocols and competition rules making up a minority of the questions. Though it’s technically an open-book exam, it averages out to only 20 seconds per question – hardly enough time to look up every answer (if you have to research all 180 questions then you’re not ready to become a BJCP, anyway). The questions are written a bit abstractly; you can’t simply Google them and find the answer as worded on the test. In fact, I’d say many of the questions are rather vague and use subjective terms which don’t have clear-cut answers. There is technically a syllabus from which the questions are supposed to be drawn, but I’ve found word-for-word questions and/or answers taken from third party sources as well as obsolete BJCP materials (the 2008 guidelines, for example).

All complaints aside, I will say the online exam definitely does separate the laymen from the more advanced beer enthusiasts. It’s also an excellent way for anyone to gauge their beer knowledge even if they have no interest in homebrewing or judging competitions. You’re told as soon as you finish the test whether you passed or failed. You don’t get a grade, though it will tell you which areas you missed a question on and you might be able to approximate your percentage based on this.

iPhone 2016 127The second test is an in-person judging exam of six different beers. It’s essentially the same process as judging a competition; the major difference is you have to do this without the style guidelines and you’re not allowed to converse with anyone. This isn’t so much to test your intimate knowledge of every style, but rather to gauge your ability to judge beer objectively. You need to be able to document exactly what you smell, see, taste and feel – not whether you like it or not. Then, you need to be able to assess if these features are appropriate for that style. Of course, some of the beers may be doctored in such a way so that they have a flaw (either through off-flavor kits or, as was the case at my exam, blending them with other beers). You’ll have to be able to detect common flaws like DMS, diacetyl and acetaldehyde. These chemicals are acceptable in small amounts in certain styles, but you’d better know which styles so you don’t unfairly penalize a beer.

The way the tasting exam is graded is a bit tricky. There are three upper-echelon BJCPs who judge the same beers at the same time in the same room as the test-takers. They are expected to know how to rate the beer accurately, so examinees are graded relative to how close they are to the established judges’ scores and remarks.

What stinks is that your test isn’t graded there and then – it’s sent back to BJCP headquarters to be graded by another BJCP. From what I understand, it can take anywhere from three months to a year to receive your score back! In the meantime, you’re officially a member of the BJCP and you can judge BJCP competitions as a “rank pending” judge and receive points (you advance in rank based on earning “points” which are garnered mostly by judging and stewarding competitions).

bjcp.org
bjcp.org

There is also a third exam for those already established in the BJCP who want to advance to the higher ranks. It’s a series of essays that test your knowledge of advanced zymurgy and styles in detail. I probably won’t be taking that taste for quite a while (as in: a few years at least).

If you’re enthusiastic about craft beer and/or homebrewing, I highly recommend pursuing a BJCP certification. You’ll be amazed how much there is to learn about beer beyond what it tastes like and which breweries and styles are “in” at the moment. When you learn to appreciate the science behind brewing, the work involved in perfecting recipes, and the chemical and biological reactions happening at a microscopic level – you’ll appreciate beer even more. The craft beer world needs more educated drinkers and less fanboys.

Southern Tier Pumking (2015 vintage)

3.4
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 14/20
ChadPolenz (1690) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 26, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 30B Autumn Seasonal Beer (base style: ?)

AROMA: Strong cinnamon graham cracker scent. Nutmeg is quite prominent along with a general autumn spicy aroma. Alcohol is present, but mostly as a background note. No distinctive malt or hop presence. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Pumpkin skin bright orange. Very cloudy body with sediment floating in suspension. Small, beige, soapy foam dissipates quickly. 1/3

FLAVOR: Mild base of pale and amber malts, though they are not especially sweet on their own. A honey/lemon flavor indicative of oxidation emerges towards the middle (though it blends with the palette). Cinnamon and nutmeg gently bite at the end with slight cracker/crust taste. Alcohol imparts a liqueur-type sensation. Palette has diminished with age but is still quite flavorful. Faint spicy hops. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; low carbonation. Feels a bit flat in the mouth (but not slick). Alcohol warmth is fairly subtle and easily tolerated. Clean, dry aftertaste. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Tastes very good for a year-old vintage, but nothing was gained by aging this beer. Spices faded; mouthfeel is a bit dull. 7/10

TOTAL SCORE: 34/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Southern Tier Pumking (2016 vintage)


3.7
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20ChadPolenz (1690) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 23, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 30B Autumn Seasonal Beer (base style: ?)

AROMA: Strong sweet aroma of cinnamon graham crackers, brown sugar, pumpkin and nutmeg. Spices and flavorings are great, but obscure the malts and hops. Slight alcohol presence with a touch of vanilla. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Pale orange/copper hue. Slightly hazy but otherwise clear. Large beige soapy foam when first poured, but it evaporates. Slow, sporadic CO2 bubbles. 2/3

FLAVOR: Some vanilla and alcohol up front with mild sugar and spice in the background. Flavor akin to brown sugar or molasses but not nearly as sweet. Finishes with strong cinnamon graham cracker taste. Gentle spicy bite lingers momentarily before finishing clean. Malt base is simple pale/amber malt and doesn’t impart much distinctive character. Hops are mostly indistinguishable, imparting dry bitterness. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; slightly slick texture. Carbonation is low. Alcohol presence is subtle, but becomes stronger as it warms. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Not nearly as good as previous years, though the familiar palette is still very enjoyable. Needs a bit more complexity and body. 7/10

TOTAL SCORE: 37/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Unibroue La Terrible


4.6
   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20ChadPolenz (1690) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 23, 2016


2015 BJCP Category: 26D Belgian Dark Strong Ale

AROMA: Rich strong dark malt presence. Very sweet aroma with notes of dark and dried fruits plus peppery phenols and a hint of citrus peel. Alcohol is moderate, but not distracting and complements the bouquet. 11/12

APPEARANCE: Deep shade of murky maroon/burgundy/brown proper. Slight highlights. Large, tan, moussy foam mostly dissipates. 2/3

FLAVOR: Robust and complex palette. Spicy black pepper sensation up front. Rich sweet dark malt presence with bread and fruitcake flavors throughout. Dried and stone fruit flavor preside from beginning to end. Faint orangepeel in the background. Alcohol imparts a lightly sweet vanilla-like taste. Perceived bitterness is medium-low as is hop flavor (spicy/earthy). Aftertaste is akin to Coca-Cola. 19/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-full body; highly carbonated but not sharp (but not smooth, either). Finishes surprisingly clean with a sweet vanilla sensation. Alcohol creates for minor, tolerable warmth. Quite drinkable for 10.5% 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Pretty much a perfect beer. To-spec in every way; delicious; drinkable. Can’t believe I’ve never review this before! 10/10

TOTAL SCORE: 46/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Maui Brewing Big Swell IPA


3.6
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20ChadPolenz (1689) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 21, 2016


2015 BJCP Category: 21A American IPA

AROMA: Mostly orange citrus; slight pine; perhaps some green tea. Low clean malt presence - not sweet, though. No alcohol. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Burnished copper/rusty orange hue. Very hazy body. Large, off-white soapy foam. Moderately high retention and lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Amber malt base, though flavor is more clean than sweet. Bitterness is moderate with hop flavors of pine and orange. Finishes with a smoke flavor - seems to be a rauchbier IPA though there’s no indication of this on the can or brewery’s website. Could be tannins,sulfur, phenols, and/or very piney/resiny hops. Interesting palette. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; smooth texture. Med-low CO2. Seems a tad flat. Hops linger but are not astringent. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: An IPA with smoke character is interesting, but I’m not sure if that flavor is intentional. Otherwise, a rather typical, no-frills IPA. 7/10

TOTAL SCORE: 36/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

AC/DC Rock or Bust Beer


3.4
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20ChadPolenz (1688) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 20, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 2A International Pale Lager

AROMA: Sweet grainy malt with slight lemony scent. Clean fermentation profile. Appears to be slightly oxidized. More neutral than bad smelling. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Crystal clear gold; very effervescent. Large white froth with tight bubbles. Decent lacing. 3/3

FLAVOR: Moderate amount of grainy sweet blonde/pale malt. Low graham cracker/bready flaovr as well. Quite sweet for the style, though this is probably due to the age of the can as whatever hop character it may have had seems to have faded. There is slight spicy sensation in the background; otherwise bitterness is very low. Lemony sherry taste on the finish. No DMS, diacetyl or acetaldehyde. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body; medium-high CO2 at first but becomes a bit dull after a short time. Aftertaste is fairly clean, but the beer is not refreshing per se. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: For a generic pale lager this is actually pretty good and very drinkable. Can seems to be rather old, but it has endured well. Not sure why AC/DC didn’t opt for an Australian-style brew, though. 6/10

TOTAL SCORE: 34/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose

3.6
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
ChadPolenz (1687) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 14, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 29A Fruit Beer (base style: 27 Historical Beer: Gose)

AROMA: Strong lacto/sour presence. Green apple, watermelon rind, but no coriander. Seabreeze aroma. Slightly yeasty/bready. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Pale golden-orange; very hazy. Fluffy white head slowly evaporates. No CO2 visible 2/3

FLAVOR: Moderately sour up front like a fresh squeeze of lemon in water. Salt lingers in background. Tartness on the finish. Some general spiciness in the background throughout (coriander?). No watermelon taste to be found other than a slight taste of rind rather than the fruit itself. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body; crisp and refreshing with a dry finish. Slight sourness lingers on the lips. Good summer beer. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: For a gose, this beer is pretty much to-spec. But it fails as a fruit beer (I suspect this can is old and the watermelon faded away). 7/10

TOTAL SCORE: 36/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Two Henrys Belleview-Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat

2.5
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 9/20ChadPolenz (1686) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 13, 2016


2015 BJCP Category: 29B Fruit & Spice Beer (base style: 18A Blonde Ale)

AROMA: Akin to sweetened yogurt - blueberry puree and vanilla flavoring are prominent. Some wheat/bread notes. Faint trace of lacto. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Rusty orange/light brown; extremely hazy. Small off-white head dissipates quickly. 1/3

FLAVOR: Generic wheat base brew is evident. Fairly bready palette throughout. Blueberry is noticeable at first, but fades quickly. Some minor vanilla sweetness in the background (also fades quickly). Prominent tangy/sourness imparts a sharp astringency which grows in strength. Seems to be infected. 10/20

MOUTHFEEL: Light-medium body; fairly low carbonation. Refreshing at first, but leaves an astringent aftertaste. Feels dull. 2/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Nowhere near as good as it is on tap. Probably unpasteurized and/or an old can. Drinkable, but not very enjoyable. 4/10

TOTAL SCORE: 25/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Oskar Blues Beerito


4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20ChadPolenz (1685) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 12, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 2B International Amber Lager

AROMA: Somewhat sweet caramel/amber malt presence. Clean lager character. 9/12

APPEARANCE: light brown/copper hue; very clear. Fairly big beige foam. 3/3

FLAVOR: Malt-forward palette with slight nutty character. Neither sweet nor completely dry; though there is a strong authentic cereal graininess on the finish. Very faint caramel in the background. Hops are low; only slight spicy sensation. Clean lager character. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Light+ body. Crisp and effervescent, no carbonic bite. Smooth and refreshing. Sessionable. 5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: One of the best examples of the style I can recall. Impressive palette for such low ABV. Too mild to be a true Vienna Lager, though. 8/10

TOTAL SCORE: 40/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Arrogant Who You Callin’ Wussie


3.7
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20ChadPolenz (1684) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 11, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 5D German Pils

AROMA: Light citrusy/lemon hop character (American hops?). Low grainy sweet malt presence. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Pale yellow; mostly clear with constant CO2. Creamy, long-lasting white foam with plenty of lacing. 3/3

FLAVOR: Moderate grainy sweet malt character; slight graham cracker taste (especially on the finish). Hops are pronounced with a spicy rye-like flavor. Bitterness is dry. Minor lemon flavor in the aftertaste. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body; effervescent but smooth. Refreshing with a lingering, enjoyable aftertaste. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Mostly true to style, though there seems to be an American influence. Enjoyable and fun to drink. 7/10

TOTAL SCORE: 37/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Cigar City Good Gourd (2016 re-review)

4.3
   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 18/20
ChadPolenz (1683) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 10, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 30B Autumn Seasonal Beer (base style: ?)

AROMA: Strong potpourri aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg especially; sweet pumpkin puree. Sweet brown malt presence as well. 11/12

APPEARANCE: Burnished copper hue; hazy body with CO2 visible. Small, tan foam completely dissipates. 1/3

FLAVOR: Robust palette throughout. Pumpkin bread up front with sweet brown maltiness. Transitions to spicy on the second half with strong cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg flavors. Vanilla seems to linger in the background likely due to alcohol presence. 18/20

MOUTHFEEL: Full bodied; low carbonation gives it a thick, chewy, almost syrupy viscosity. Some minor alcohol warmth complements the palette. Finishes remarkably clean. Not quite a sipper. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Delicious beer to be sure; one of the best pumpkin brews ever made. This would be perfect if it held a head and wasn’t quite as syrupy. 9/10

TOTAL SCORE: 43/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Duck-Rabbit Duck-Rabbator Dopplebock


4.5
   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20ChadPolenz (1683) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 4, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 9A Doppelbock

AROMA: Very strong maltiness. Slight caramel; some milk chocolate. Strong presence of dark fruit and baked bread. faint alcohol. 11/12

APPEARANCE: Brown/ruby red. A tidbit hazy though CO2 is visible. Moderate tan foam fizzles away quickly. 2/3

FLAVOR: Huge malty sweetness (but not cloying) with delectable dark fruit flavors throughout. Some confectionery flavors of caramel and milk chocolate can be found in the background. Mild spicy hop bitterness is perceived on the finish as is alcohol. Clean lager character. 18/20

MOUTHFEEL: Full bodied with a thick, soft texture (but never syrupy). Alcohol warmth is pleasant and gentle. Remarkably clean aftertaste. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Probably the best American doppelbock I’ve ever had. To-spec in nearly every way. Delicious and fun to drink. 10/10

TOTAL SCORE: 45/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Evil Twin Wet Dream

3.1
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
ChadPolenz (1682) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 3, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 30A Spice/Herb/Vegetable (base style: 19C American Brown Ale)

AROMA: Espresso, pine/resin and citrus. Plenty of brown malt. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Murky rusty brown/mahogany. Moderate tan foam; trace lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Brown/amber malt presence throughout, though not especially sweet. Consistent earthy/spicy sensation from hops. Espresso flavor emerges as it goes down and is quite spicy (not quite jalapeno-like, but close). Flavors do blend, though the base brew doesn’t seem to be enhanced much by the espresso. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; fairly high carbonation. Smooth. Brief coffee aftertaste fades away cleanly. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Average brown ale with a little coffee bonus flavor. Fine, but not worth the premium price. 6/10

TOTAL SCORE: 31/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Coppertail Unholy


4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20ChadPolenz (1681) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 2, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 26C Belgian Tripel

AROMA: Bananas ester with American hop citrusy aromatics. Faint pepper. No alcohol. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Hazy shade of yellow maize. Large white froth laces very well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Phelonic and peppery throughout (in a good way). Flavors are more likely from American hops than yeast esters. Not much banana or citrus in the flavor, oddly enough. Chewy pilsner malt base is supportive but not sweet. Palette is extremely spicy even though there are no additives to it. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light bodied with almost no alcohol warmth (flavor comes through as spicy phenols). Very bubbly and crisp like champagne. Dry finish. Great meal accompaniment. 5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: I really enjoy the spicy character here but was hoping for more fruity flavors. Impressive for an American version using a non-traditional recipe. 8/10

TOTAL SCORE: 40/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Southern Tier 3 Citrus Peel Out


3.9
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20ChadPolenz (1680) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 1, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 29A Fruit Beer (base style: 22D Wheatwine)

AROMA: Strong grapefruit and flowers. Sweet, sherbet-like nose. Wheat is present as a background note. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Pale orange, hazy gold hue. CO2 constantly visible. Small, white foam mostly dissipates though there is some lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: General wheat presence up front quickly followed by blood orange juice. Sweetness from the juice with a slight candy flavor. At the apex it becomes tart as the grapefruit and tangerine peels emerge. Hops mostly invisible. 16/20

MOUTHFEEL: Surprisingly crisp for the style and potency. Medium bodied; consistently smooth. Alcohol is well masked - no warmth or flavor. Clean aftertaste. Refreshing while in the mouth. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Works great as fruit beer but not so much as a wheatwine. Dangerously drinkable. 8/10

TOTAL SCORE: 39/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wolters Pilsener


3.2
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20ChadPolenz (1679) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - AUG 31, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 5D German Pils

AROMA: Light honey with sweet graham cracker and clean grainy malt. Some sherry-like notes. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Golden hue; clear; effervescent. Moderate white foam, trace lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Sweet and malty for the style due to the age of the can. Plenty of pilsner malt with slight graham cracker taste. Faint floral or spicy hops impart light dry bitterness. Honey/lemon notes lurk in the background. 13/20

MOUTHFEEL: Light body; consistently crisp. Texture is a little watery, though it is smooth with a clean aftertaste. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: This is probably a great brew when fresh, though it’s still drinkable with some age. 6/10

TOTAL SCORE: 32/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Weyerbacher 21st Anniversary


3.4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20ChadPolenz (1678) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - AUG 30, 2016


2015 BJCP Category: 33B Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (base style: 20C Imperial Stout)

AROMA: Prominent bourbon spirit and barrel aroma. Light chocolate/vanilla. Sour grape. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Cola-like opaque dark brown. Dark tan foam quickly evaporates. Fine carbonation visible. 1/3

FLAVOR: Sweet bourbon flavor throughout. Vanilla and cocoa emerge at the apex but are background notes. Fairly strong palette of dark fruit with slight cherry cola flavor. Not much roasted malt or hops. Treacle or toffee sensation on the finish. Alcohol is strong, but not overpowering. Sweet, but not cloying. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-full bodied. Mouthfeel seems a bit thin and too highly carbonated. Alcohol is warm, but not phenolic or burning. Aftertaste is quite clean. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A beer of this size and stature should be amazing, but this is merely good. 7/10

TOTAL SCORE: 34/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Brewpub review: Ten10 Brewing (Orlando, FL)

Where I live is a bit of wasteland when it comes to culinary culture, so it’s nice to journey up to Orlando once in a while and check out the best beer and food locations. Ten 10 Brewing in the Mills 50 area of had been on my list of “Must-Try” breweries for quite a while. I’ve heard nothing but good things, so I finally got to stop by on Sunday and check it out. While it wasn’t mind-blowingly amazing, it was definitely one of the better craft beer destinations I’ve been to in Central Florida thus far.

Ten10 Brewing 001

The atmosphere is very modern. Everything looks brand spankin’ new, which is nice because it has a clean, sleek look. There’s an L-shaped bar (~18 seats) in the center of the facility with the brewhouse to the right and a dining room (~25-30 seats) to the left. There are only a couple of TVs on one end of the bar, but no pool tables or darts or other typical bar games probably due to the lack of space. That’s fine though, because while the taproom may be small, it never feels cramped.
Ten10 Brewing 004
Ten10 Brewing 003
As for the beer, the menu is rather extensive – about 15 brews on tap with one guest tap. Pints are $6, half pints are $3, or you can get a flight of four 5oz pours for $8. The prices for full and half pours are quite reasonable, as some brewery taprooms charge upwards of $10 for a full pour of their heaviest beer. That flight price is a bit steep, though. If you wanted to sample the entire menu you’d have to spend $32! I like taprooms that will give you more samples in smaller sizes (i.e. six 3oz pours or five 4oz pours). My friend Maggie and I decided to sample half the menu, so we ordered a flight of four before we ate and then ordered another flight when we were done. I have to say I was quite satisfied with the quality across the board. Some brews were totally to-spec for their styles, while others were somewhat experimental but didn’t go overboard. Here’s the rundown:

Ten10 Brewing 015Havakow (5.5% ABV, 15 IBUs): A classic, by-the-book milk stout. Sweet with a lovely chocolate finish but not cloying at all. Great dessert brew. RATING: 4.25/5.

Ivanhoe’s Mango IPA (7% ABV, 60 IBUs): I’m really over the whole fruit-infused IPA trend, but this one was actually pretty good. The mango seemed totally authentic in both the aroma and flavor; there was a juicy quality to the brew, though it was still plenty hoppy. I love it when microbreweries pull off a recipe like this. RATING: 4/5.

Ten10 Brewing 014Black Bombers In the Night (5% ABV, 15 IBUs): You don’t see too many small breweries making black lagers (a.k.a. Schwarzbier). This one was pretty good; mild on the first half but finished with a nice roasted malt flavor. RATING: 3.5/5.

White Ryno (5.5% ABV, 15 IBUs): A Belgian witbier with coriander and citrus flavors. It didn’t say on the menu, but it seemed to have lemon, lime and orange peels. Body was rather thin considering the ABV. Not bad, but could’ve been better. RATING: 3.5/5.

Ten10 Brewing 013Chronically Mismanaged (6% ABV, 40 IBUs): My favorite beer of the flight. A hoppy red ale made with espresso. The dank resiny hops matched with the bitterness and coffee flavor perfectly. This is a versatile brew: a pint would pair great with savory food or with dessert. RATING: 4.25/5.

East West IPA (7% ABV, 60 IBUs): A classic East Coast-style IPA (which seem to be a rarity these days). Huge pine and resin notes, a little green tea from the Centennial hops and a sweet caramel finish. RATING: 4/5.

Ten10 Brewing 012Cosmic Corsair (6.6% ABV, 60 IBUs): Described as a Belgian pale ale dry hopped with Galaxy and Cascade hops. I could smell and taste the Belgian esters which were nice, but I thought the use of American hops actually clashed with the base brew. Not that it was bad, and I definitely appreciate the originality. RATING: 3.25/5.

Dinky Line Project (4.5% ABV, 13 IBUs): A great sessionable saison. Plenty of banana aroma and flavor along with a honey or mead-like taste on the finish. I’d recommend getting a growler of this for summertime refreshment at home. RATING: 4/5.

The food menu is a bit on the simple side: sandwiches, personal pizzas, and a few starters. There’s nothing in the way of gourmet entrees, burgers, salads, or desserts. That’s okay, because everything is moderately-priced; pretty much everything on the menu is $8 and the most expensive item is only $9! My friend Maggie and I headed here for dinner, so we got a soft pretzel ($4) with beer cheese ($2) to start. The pretzel is made with beer grain and it definitely has a genuine bready flavor. The beer cheese was nice; mild but very creamy. I ordered the Cheezy Buffalo Chicken Melt ($8) which is essentially pulled chicken with buffalo sauce. It wasn’t quite as spicy as I was hoping. I will say it was plenty flavorful and enjoyable, though. I liked the roll, too. Maggie opted for the “D.H.W.V” (don’t ask me what that stands for). It was kind of like a Cuban, but with roast beef and chicken. She liked it. Both of our sandwiches came with tortilla chips and salsa. The chips were good, but we dipped them in the leftover beer cheese since the salsa seemed like a very mild supermarket brand.
All in all I would have to say Ten 10 Brewing was a satisfying experience, and I can see why it gets the good reviews that it does. I would definitely like to come back and try the rest of the beer menu since what I had was so good I’d like to see what their other styles are like. I also liked that it was so economical – dinner for two was only $38. The same experience at other places tends to be closer to $50.

Ten10 Brewing 008

One piece of advice if you go to Ten 10: bring a sweatshirt or a jacket – the air conditioning blows very hard and it’s very cold. It’s like a server room in here!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Stone 20th Anniversary Citracado IPA


4.4
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20ChadPolenz (1677) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - AUG 27, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 22A Double IPA

AROMA: Strong citrus/tropical fruit juice nose. Slightly grassy. Some clean malty sweetness may be found in the background. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Dark copper/orange hue. Mostly clear with CO2 bubbles constantly visible. Moderate amount of off-white foam laces well. 2/3

FLAVOR: Strong hop presence from beginning to end. Flavor is akin to tropical fruit juice rather than citrus pith. Some grassy/resiny flavors emerge on the finish. Hefty malt base imparts honey/amber malt sweetness and matches the intense dank bitterness. Alcohol is present, but not distracting. 18/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-full bodied. Well carbonated but not crisp; no syrupy texture,either. Hops linger but are not astringent. Alcohol warmth is gentle. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A DIPA from Stone that’s exactly to spec and tastes and drinks great? Gee, what a shocker ;) 9/10

TOTAL SCORE: 44/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Innis & Gunn Original (2016 re-review)


3.1
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20ChadPolenz (1676) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - AUG 25, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 33A Wood-Aged Beer (base style: 14C Scottish Export)

AROMA: Sweet butterscotch candy; some light apple character. Wood is faint. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Rusty brownish/orange; mostly clear. Small, tan foam mostly dissipates. 1/3

FLAVOR: Red apple flavor, but not cider-tasting per se. Mild toffee and butterscotch notes, with a strong sensation at the finish. Wood character is faint and imparts minor earthy flavor. Some butter in the aftertaste. Almost not hop presence. Not bad, but not much of a palette to latch onto. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-low body and CO2. Feels flat and a little slick. No alcohol presence. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Has the basic elements of the style, but is in no way superior because it’s oak aged. 6/10

TOTAL SCORE: 31/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.