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Just a little introduction...New to the forum....Im writing from about 15000 miles away here in gods country, Minnesota, USA.

Im a National beer judge with the BJCP program and have been brewing for about 4 years. Just found this your guys site and thought that I would see if I can answer quetions from time to time...anything the keeps me from actually getting work done and living up to my potential. :D

So cheers and good on ya

All right,

If you are happy to answer questions - i have one.

What are the style guidelines fro "Foreign Extra Stout"
More importantly - if you were a judging in a comp of stouts - would you expect to be told that
"any hop aroma or hop bitterness should be penalised"

My understanding for this style is that low hop aroma and hop bitterness is ok and part of the style.

I must be an American ponce! My apologies...vegemite it is.

As for the foreign extra stout (FES) category the entire idea was based on the India Pale Ales of the 1800s. They had to keep during a 3-4 month journey to India and had to be high in alcohol and hops.

Same thing for the FES except these were being sent to places like the Carribean. They are much bigger (higher alc%) dry/sweet stout and have a much higher hop presence.

As for being penalised for having hop aroma/ bitterness...thats just crap! You are allowed low hop aroma but bitterness can be medium to high (35-70IBU!!!).

You are absolutely correct about the bitterness as I have said. However, if the beer is unbalanced, ie high bitterness with a low body that cant support it, then points can be taken off.

The thing is that if your beer is to bitter for a FES and still has a good body. You can always enter in as a Russian Imperial Stout. Always judge your beer when your done with it and put it in the class where it belongs. Dont enter it in a certain style just because thats what you brewed it to be, enter it what it is.
To enter as a RIS i would need it to be higher in alcohol.
FES category caters for upto 6.5 % - i think.

My point was - they penalised me for having any hop aroma and bitterness at all.
Do you have an American style guideline that lists the category and guidelines taht you could e-mail me or post here.

Thanks for helping me out.

I want to enter my stout in the upcoming State Championships - but only if they are going to judge it correctly.
Judge correctly you say!? That is exactly to the point. Ive been doing this long enough to know where and were not to send beers for competitions throughout the US. Its quite funny actually. I have an IPA that ALWAYS wins. Its highest score was a 46/50...very very nice beer. However, I sent it to a competition down south and it got a 24...too hoppy for style they said.

You have to understand that the judges are people and no matter how much we wish they were always accurate to some degree there will always be differences.

I understand your frustration, justly so, the judge put something that was incorrect on your score sheet and took points off for it. When I make a beer that I know is very good and get something back that says it has an off flavor...well its tough to argue about that because I bottle condition most of my beers and there is a slight difference from bottle to bottle. However, when they make a statement like yours did then its worse than bad.

The fact of the matter is every competition will have style guidelines at each judging table. So there are 2 possibilities: 1) The competition didnt have style guidelines 2) and even worse he did not read them.

However, these are just guidelines and most people cant pick out things that shouldnt be there. The first thing that every judge does is look for flaws in the beer. I mean pretty much everyone can tell you there is something wrong with it and maybe even give you a flavor/ aroma they get. The hard part becomes when everything is 'right'. So if there are no flaws then they concentrate on the direct style.

Ok say that its a great Austrailian Lager but I smell Cascade hops. Well Cascade hops are American and its an Australian lager...get the idea.

It becomes my worst nightmare when I see people judging the way that you are indicating. Making very bold general statements are bad. Whats even worse is the manner in which is was present...."IF I DETECT THIS THEN I WILL MARK THE BEER DOWN!!!" The brewer has paid good money to enter the beer to be critiqued not preached to.

Ive found that there are alot of brewers that enter into competitions not trying to win any thing but just to see whats that flavor/ aroma and how the hell do I get it out of there and make better beer. They are basically paying for my advice on how to fix what went wrong.

The best part about judging is getting an absolutely horrid beer and critique it and then meeting the person who brewed it and them saying. Man, you were right. I had that problem in all my beers but I took your advice and that funkyness is gone!! Thats the best part.

I always include my email address on every score sheet I do so if the brewer has any kind of questions they can directly get in contact with me. Sure I get a few emails about, "I must not have been tasting the same beer." Then there are others who thought their beer was perfect, I point out a flaw, and they say, wow....yeah I see exactly what you are talking about.

Look, the entire reason I got into judging was so that I could make better beer. Now that Im more advanced I can pick out pretty much all the main off flavors/ aromas and tell how to improve it. In addition, I had many good beers that just didnt have "that" thing to make them stand out...tHe thing that makes good beers great...and try to make a few comments about how maybe to give it a little something.

Crist Im rambling....

Ok so it comes down to this. The judge was wrong...plain and simple. It happens. People are just people.

As for your beer and pretty much every beer you make, if you are going to enter competitions, dont worry about small differences in your beers numbers. Like your FES, never worry that a beer is too BIG for style, judges like big beers not to mention its really hard to say exactly if its to big. Too small on the other hand is very easy to tell. If the FES is only 6.5% but has a great body then enter it in RIS, if not then FES. If I were you, I would enter it in both the FES and RIS. They are 2 totally separate categories and as I said it seems that a FES always wins the stout category.

As for guidelines, Im not sure if you guys use the same ones. However, Im sure they are at least close. Here is the line to the BJCP site with the guidelines in many formats. YOu can even download them for PDA (nerds!)
Thanks for that post, kingoftheharpies! That was really interesting and has inspired me to submit my beers into a competiton or two. I just hope the judges have your level of discerning taste! Good to have your presence on the board.

Cheers - Snow.
Thanks for the link.

I have downloaded the pdf file for the categories.

how do you go about entering brews into a competion ?
where are the comps found , etc?

Each state has a championship each year.

Your beer needs to score > 90points out of 150 and finish top3 in it's category to be eligible for entering the National Championships.

ACT is hosting the Nationals this year.

Feel free to come over for them and vist the Logge Cabin and
Ken~Beer~A Brewing.

I can try and find a state contact list for those people interested.
I'm interested in that list if you can find it, Ken.

- Snow.
The Competition link on Craftbrewer is normally updated as the dates are set.

I know there is a Queensland comp that maybe being planned by Graham Sanders for about Aug/Sept.
The NSW comp is going to be organised again by the Country Brewer guys. When I was talking to Shawn about it a couple of weeks ago he was going to book the venue soon. Usually it is in Sept.

Thanks, Doc.

as an aside, how do you decide which of your beers to enter? I have quite a number that are in different stages of conditioning and storage, all of varying quality and style conformance. Should I just pick the best ones? Do you submit mediocre ones for feedback, as referred to by kingoftheharpies?

- Snow.
Yes, yes yes which beers to enter.
The dilema.
I actually find this a fun part.
I keg all my beers, but bottle 3-5 bottles from each brew for comps and picnics etc.
When I tap a keg I do a quick eval on it. If it is a great beer and meets the style guidelines etc for a category then I mark my brewlog.
When the comps come around I taste one of the bottles from a brew marked on my brewlog to see if it is as good as I remember it. (this is the fun part, tasting all your brews). I have to keep reminding myself that bottled beers are 0.5% stronger than the kegged version. But I still tend to forget after the first couple. :p

Personally I pick the best ones because it costs to enter each beer, and you don't get the bottle back. Of course the feedback is great, but you also enter to get a place and recognition. If you are looking more for just feedback and constructive criticism a club or your local HBS is a better bet.

The golden rule I've learnt is the beers you think will do well probably won't. The average one ends up doing well.
The other thing that makes it easy to enter is that most comps only allow you to enter each category once. So that is one pilsner, one stout etc, eg not a German Pils and a Bohemian Pils.

Hope that helps,


If you keg all your beers why do you bother to bottle any?? Why dont you just counter-pressure fill whatever bottles you will need for competitions?
Because my brew size is typically 23.5 litres.
Most of my kegs are 18 litres.
That generally leaves enough for a couple of long necks.

No point in wasting any :lol:

its great to see you on a aussie site theres a few americans on some but they are beginners proberly affraid to post on U.S sites because there way behind most americans.

so it wouldnt be your opinion that a bottle conditioned beer would be better than the force carbonated keg beer the same.??????
Bottle conditioned vs. Keg Filled

There are very few styles that I will bottle condition. The problem with bottle conditioning is that the beer with continue to change over time. The yeast consume sugars and produce by-products other than alcohol. So I will keg and force carbonate nearly all of my beers. This ensures that the beer will continue to be the same and not change. This is especially good for competitions so there can be NO dissagreement in scores and if there is its because of the judging.

That being said, I would never keg carbonate some beers. These beers include the big ones: barleywine, imperial stout, Belgian Quads etc. These need time in the bottle to smooth and mellow out. Here is an example, JW Lees Harvest Ale is a very good barleywine but when young has a harsh hop flavor and is quite sweet, let that same beer site 2 years and it will have all the harsh edges off of it and will be much dryer.

If you ask everyone they will tell you that wine needs aging but very few will tell you about beer. That being said most beers are meant to be drunk
'young' (6-12 months or less).

BUT...big but you can stop your bottle conditioned beer from changing easily. Say you have a bottle and its perfect. All you have to do is keep the other bottles in the fridge and it will almost completely stop the yeast and the beer will stay how it is.

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