It’s that time again. GTA Homebrew Club’s annual competition is even bigger this year, with a record number of entries. I volunteered to judge a few sessions because 1) it’s fun, 2) I need the practice and 3) it was held at Amsterdam which is around the corner from me.
I have learned to abstain from anything IPA-ish as my system gets a tad bitter when exposed to too much bitterness, and I judged some English and German categories. I was distracted at one point when I saw my beer, a Lychee Gose, poured at the next table.
It was a bit of a last minute brew. I had had a salted lychee soda when in Japan last year and it made a lasting impression. I was browsing through my local asian supermarket when I saw a bag of lychees, and inspiration hit. I managed to make, sour, ferment and package the beer just in time to enter. I had no idea how it tasted. I was a bit nervous when I saw how long the best-in-class judges were taking over it.
Seems I had nothing to be nervous about. It took second place in a very full category, and was up for the Henderson Prize!
This was my first time judging best in show. Man, there are some really amazing homebrewers out there. There was a Belgian Dubbel that was so good, I would have licked the sides of the glass if it was at all socially acceptable.
It took all of two days from receiving my BJCP test results to get some judging gigs. I needed just one more experience point to get to the Certified level. I was able to get in on one of the judging nights for the Ontario Brewing Awards, and judged Bohemian Pils, Amber Lager and Vegetable categories.
The next weekend, I went with Eric Cousineau, Brandi Lee MacDonald and Victor North to Buffalo to judge the Amber Waves of Grain competition. They did the judging differently than I’m used to, but it’s a format that I definitely prefer – get one beer at a time to taste, judge and discuss rather than the full flight all at once.