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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Judging a Collaboration Homebrew Competition

The judging necessitates
A few month's back Shawn Burch, a fellow brewer, came up with a cool idea for a competition - a Collaboration Homebrew Competition.  The way it was designed to work is that interested participants would be randomly pair up with another brewer.  They would then get together, design a beer and brew it together.  The end product would then be judged with the winners taking home bragging rights in addition to some nice prizing including the "Pimp Paddle".

I volunteered to arrange and host the judging half which took place at my house a few nights back.  I can tell you that forcing myself to start reviewing the odd beer here and there for this site was really great prep.  The last time I judged I felt less then confident about what I was doing, this time I had no problem being descriptive, identifying what I was tasting and offering feedback when needed.   This is good considering the fact that a few of my brewing compatriots and myself are planning on becoming BJCP certified.

My score sheets
In talking with some of the brewers on hand I found there were a few methods of collaboration that went into this.  Several groups did straight collaborations and brewed a single 5 gallon batch.  Others brewed a 10 gallon batch with each participant taking home 5 gallons to ferment, they then selected either the better version or blended them together.  Finally one group brewed separately then came together and blended for the final beer.   As someone who enjoys concept of collaboration brewing it was nice to see the various methods that people came up with.

In total we ended up with seven entries, this was a little surprising as we had enough interest to round out several additional teams.  I also assembled a crack team of seven judges (including myself) and two and a half stewards to help keep the judging blind.  As far as the judges I felt we had a great range of judges from full BJCP certified, to people with more then enough knowledge to be BCJP, to a couple of guys who have never judged before.

The Final Four
I divided the group of judges into two panels and separated them in two areas of my house.  As some of the judges were also participants I instructed the stewards Eric (OC Eric) and Don (BackHouse Brew) to make sure that no one judged their own beer. In the first round I judged four beers with Daniel (beancurdturtle) and Steve (SteveM) while Shawn (oleolsson), Robert (Brew Captain), Joel (JJkings52) and Joey (PunkMonk) judged three beers.  Judged and scored using BCJP score sheets each group was instructed to advance their favorite two beers to the finals.  My group selected an American Brown and a "Belguim" to join a Wit Beer and a Dubbel in the main event.

For the finals we regrouped the judges which included zero competitors and was made up of Steve, Joey, Robert and myself. Robert suggested arranging it so that all beer could be poured at the same time so that we could debate which one was our favorite.  To do this I brought out fresh taster glasses including the four Brewing TV tastes I won by hobbit-fing John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff a few months back.

After sampling all the different beers we determine the winners.  I swore the tasting panel to secrecy so that they could be announced at the AHP Anniversary Party.  Fortunately with the magic of scheduled posting this post did go live till then so here are the Winners

3rd Place Goes to
Shawn Olsson and Cesar Alfaro
(Deconstructed Belgian Cream Ale)

2nd Place Goes to
Shawn Burch and Daniel Vaughn
(Belgian Dubbel)

1st Place and the Pimp Paddle Goes to
Vince Bunting and Mark Laun
(American Brown Ale)


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