Score Sheets from the First Round of the 2011 National Homebrew Competition


The score sheets from the 1st round of the 2011 AHA National Homebrew Competition (NHC) came out last week. It is cool win ribbons and medals, but the feedback is the most part of entering these contests. And, with a competition like the national one, it is really, really hard to place without making a spectacular beer, so it is a good idea to keep your expectations low.

My sheets came back from the Nashville region and quality of the feedback and the scores I received were good. My average score was 31.87, which I am pleased with. The highest scores were 43s and the lowest score was smack down of a 15 (for a Scottish ale that aged badly).

The two scores of 43 that I received were for my “Tobias Fünke” flanders red and for my “Fargin Eishole” eisbock. The flanders red won 1st place for the Sour Ale category, and the eisbock won 3rd place for the Bock category. The feedback for these was very good but, honestly, how unhappy can you be with a beer that scores in the 40s?

The other beer that placed was my “Slow Motion Walter, Fire Engine Guy” oak-aged, smoked Baltic porter. It scored a 30.5 and it must have squeaked in to 3rd place in the Smoke-Flavored and Wood-Aged Beer category. The feedback for that was good, but both judges wanted a bit more smoke flavor in the beer. I can completely see that. I enjoy all styles of beer, but smoked beers are at the very bottom of that list. So, in making a smoked beer of my own, I went a little light on the Bamberg malt. I can live with that feedback because I’m not sure I’ll ever make a beer that I can’t enjoy just to do well in a competition. That’s BS to me.

My bourbon-oak tripel did really well and scored a 39.5, but it did not ribbon. This was simply a gallon of my tripel that I siphoned onto French oak cubes and Blanton’s bourbon. My feedback for that beer said it was nicely balanced and creamy. I agree, and it will be hard not to bourbon-oak the entire batch next time I make a tripel.

The only head scratchers were scores for the original tripel and the brett saison. The tripel received a 30, and it was downgraded for not having enough of a phenolic character. I think most American tripels are over-the-top with phenols so I specifically fermented that one cold to keep them subdued. But I can’t blame the judges for not “getting” what I was trying to do.

The other strange one was my brett saison which received a 31.5. (And it did pretty well in The Bruery’s Batch 300 competition.) Both judges only sensed a “slight sourness”…..which is mystifying. If it was supposed to be a sour saison, I would have marked it as such. This was a brett saison and brettanomyces does not make things sour. That is disappointing.

But, all and all, I’m happy with what I heard back from the Nashville region of the AHA NHC 2011 First Round. Hopefully one of my three beers advancing to the final round lucks into a medal. If not, there’s always 2012.


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