Ten Tips For Entering Homebrew Contests

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Ten Tips for Entering Homebrew Contests

By A. Medalhugry Wolfe

Mr. Wolfe has been brewing for about 7 years. He has won several best of show awards and has placed beers in the AHA Nationals but still has a grudge against those three little pigs.

1. Ask yourself why you are entering.

What is your goal? Do just want feedback? Medals? Prizes? Be realistic and don't expect to win right away.

2. Brew to style.

Familiarize yourself with the classic examples of the style you're trying to brew. Taste your beer side by side with commercial examples of the style. What is missing or different? Remember, it doesn't hurt to be on the big end of the style.

3. Read the BJCP style guidelines.

While you need to brew to style, enter the beer as what it tastes like, which may not be what you set out to brew. Last year my oatmeal stout didn't win until I entered it as a sweet stout.

4. Enter a reputable contest.

Some contests have better judges than others. Do a little research, ask around.

5. Enter repeatedly.

Enter the same beer in more than one competition and compare the results. Do the judge comments agree?

6. Apply the good advice.

Look at your score sheets. Are they filled out completely and well? Were the judges BJCP? Weed out the good score sheets and apply the good advice. Not all judges are created equal. Novice judges often have little of value to say.

7. Brew better beer.

Research the style. Make the same beer repeatedly. Look at winning recipes and see what the repeat winners are doing. Talk to those guys. Get tips. Ask questions. Taste their beer. They're human and don't bite (mostly). Don't brew in a vacuum.

8. Judge Beer

Participate in a contest as a judge. Learn aboout off flavors and what causes them. Attend BCJP class.

9. Grow some thick skin.

Be prepared to take some lumps. You may like your beer, your friends may like your beer, but that doesn't mean it's good or even great, but if you're happy, that's OK.

10. Remember, it's a crapshoot.

Even the Medal Hungry Wolves probably only win with about 75 percent of their beers. A lot depends on the quality of the judges you get. Example: a beer I brewed last year scored 19 locally but went on to take a bronze in AHA Nationals.

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