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Homebrew Competitions and How To Win Them

Homebrew Competitions and How To Win Them

A talk by Fraser Withers and Lee Immins given at Brew Con London, 2017

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London Amateur Brewers

November 12, 2017
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Transcript

  1. WHAT (THE HELL) ARE THEY? WHY (BOTHER TO) DO THEM?

    AND HOW DO I WIN AT THEM.. FRASER WITHERS AND LEE IMMINS HOMEBREW COMPETITIONS
  2. WHAT ARE THEY?

  3. • BY DEFINITION A COMPETITION PRIMARILY EXISTS TO RANK THE

    ENTRIES AND SELECT A WINNER. • HOW THAT IS DONE VARIES ACCORDING TO TYPE OF COMPETITION. • FEEDBACK AND PRIZE LEVELS ALSO VARY WIDELY… BJCP Definition : COMPETITION An event held in a single geographical area where beer and possibly other fermented beverages are formally evaluated against a set of pre-defined style guidelines or category descriptions for the purpose of constructive feedback and acknowledgment of excellence. A competition is comprised of one or more sessions spanning one or more days. WHAT ARE THEY?
  4. WHY DO THEM?

  5. WHY DO THEM? COMPETING! (WINNING) KUDOS ROSETTES AND MEDALS

  6. WHY DO THEM? WINNING PRIZES!

  7. • FEEDBACK - BY TRAINED JUDGES • IDENTIFICATION OF FAULTS

    THAT AN ENTRANT CANT IDENTIFY • HOW ON-STYLE IT IS • CALIBRATE ENTRANTS SENSORY ABILITIES • WINNING – PRIZES • WINNING – KUDOS • WINNING – ROSETTES • A PERSONAL CHALLENGE WHY DO THEM?
  8. WHY DO THEM? • FEEDBACK - BY TRAINED JUDGES •

    IDENTIFICATION OF FAULTS THAT AN ENTRANT CANT IDENTIFY • HOW ON-STYLE IT IS • CALIBRATE ENTRANTS SENSORY ABILITIES
  9. WHY DO THEM? • WINNING – PRIZES • WINNING –

    KUDOS • WINNING – ROSETTES • FEEDBACK - BY TRAINED JUDGES • IDENTIFICATION OF FAULTS THAT AN ENTRANT CANT IDENTIFY • HOW ON-STYLE IT IS • CALIBRATE ENTRANTS SENSORY ABILITIES • A PERSONAL CHALLENGE
  10. TYPES OF COMPETITION

  11. WHAT ARE THEY? Competition Type Ethos Prize level UK Examples

    BJCP Detailed feedback, judged against specific style with judges approachable by e- mail afterwards Varies but often significant (Grainfather, conical fermenter, trip to the US, commercial collaboration, homebrew vouchers) UK Nationals (350) London and South East (350) Brew Con World Series (250) Welsh Nationals (150) LAB Mini Comps (Black Friday, Fast Like a Monk, Brew Brighton) (100) The Homebrew Festival (150?) NAWB / NGWBJ Low level feedback judged against broad styles. (More feedback available if you attend and find the judge at the bar) None (?) Nationals Wales and West Commercial eg Brewery, Pub, Supermarket Support homebrewing whilst also promoting business, add to range, drive footfall, Perhaps no feedback at all. Varies but often a commercial collaboration – your beer on the shelves in Waitrose for example The Great British Homebrew Competition (Thornbridge/Waitrose) Siren/Omnipollo Briarbank (Ipswich) Wishbone (Keighley) Snowdrop Inn (Lewis) Strong Island (Portsmouth)
  12. HOW TO WIN AT THEM….

  13. Its easy, right… There's only 3 things you need to

    do… HOW TO WIN AT THEM….
  14. • MAKE GREAT BEER!! – YOU ARE VERY UNLIKELY TO

    WIN WITH A FAULTY BEER • UNDERSTAND HOW THE COMPETITION WORKS AND WHAT THEY ARE AFTER • FOLLOW THE RULES
  15. MAKING GREAT BEER – EASY TO SAY….. AND NOT THE

    FOCUS OF THIS TALK… BUT • BEERS WITH OBVIOUS FAULTS AREN'T GOING TO BE RANKED HIGHLY BY A TRAINED JUDGE. YOU MAY GET AWAY WITH IT FOR A LOCAL PUB OR INTER-CLUB COMP THOUGH! • BE CLEAN, KNOW YOUR PROCESS AND EQUIPMENT CAPABILITIES. • GET ACCESS TO AS MANY PEOPLE WITH A GOOD PALETTE AS POSSIBLE – FRIENDS, BREWERS, JUDGES. IF YOU DON’T KNOW ANY, JOIN A HOMEBREW CLUB – PHYSICAL OR VIRTUAL. MOST JUDGES WOULD BE HAPPY TO ASSESS A BEER YOU GIVE/POST THEM. • ENTER COMPETITIONS, ACT ON THE FEEDBACK THEMES. • TRAIN YOUR OWN PALETTE
  16. MAKING GREAT BEER – EASY TO SAY….. AND NOT THE

    FOCUS OF THIS TALK… BUT • LEARN FROM OTHERS : PESTER BETTER HOMEBREWERS TO HAVE BREW DAYS WITH THEM, LEARN FROM WHAT THEY DO TO IMPROVE YOUR TECHNIQUE. THE MORE PEOPLE YOU BREW WITH THE BETTER. IF YOU CAN GET A GOOD RELATIONSHIP GOING WITH A LOCAL BREWERY AND PESTER THEIR HEAD BREWER UNTIL HE/SHE IS ABOUT TO TAKE A INJUNCTION OUT AGAINST YOU . • TRY USING MORE MALT IN YOUR MASH LOWER YOUR EFFICIENCY AND SPARGE LESS, YOU WILL GET A SMOOTHER MORE ENHANCED MALT PROFILE AS YOU WILL NOT BE EXTRACTING ANY TANNINS FROM THE GRAIN. YOU WILL HAVE TO CUT YOUR PREBOIL WORT BACK TO YOUR INTENDED GRAVITY WITH LIQUOR TO GET YOUR INTENDED TARGET GRAVITIES AND VOLUMES. THIS WORKS TRY IT. • WATER/MASH CHEMISTRY, MY NO1 PRIORITY ON A BREW DAY, REMEMBER BREWERS MAKE WORT YEAST MAKE BEER. IT SHOULD BE YOUR PRIORITY TO ACHIEVE THE PERFECT MASH. WATER IS THE BIGGEST INGREDIENT IN YOUR BEER DON’T UNDERESTIMATE IT. KNOW WHAT YOUR ALKALINITY IS AND ENSURE YOU BALANCE IT OUT WITH ACIDS OR ACID MALTS OR DARK ACIDIC GRAINS. IT’S NOT TOO DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE AND REAPS BIG REWARDS. THIS WAS THE BIGGEST TURNING POINT FOR ME WHEN I CRACKED IT. MY SUCCESS AT COMPETITIONS STARTED FROM THIS POINT.
  17. • MAKE GREAT BEER!! – YOU ARE VERY UNLIKELY TO

    WIN WITH A FAULTY BEER • UNDERSTAND HOW THE COMPETITION WORKS AND WHAT THEY ARE AFTER • FOLLOW THE RULES
  18. PLAYING TO THE COMPETITION TYPE • WHERE BEING JUDGED AGAINST

    A STYLE GUIDELINE – KNOW THE GUIDELINES! • UNDERSTAND HOW A JUDGE WILL ASSESS BEER AND THE SCORING SYSTEM. HELP OUT A COMPETITION. THINK LIKE A JUDGE! • DO YOU WANT FEEDBACK ON HOW TO MAKE THAT STYLE, OR DO YOU WANT TO WIN? • YOUR MAY TRY TO MAKE AN AIPA, BUT IT MAY COME OUT AN APA…. • READ THE STYLE GUIDELINES FOR THE BEER YOU ARE PLANNING ON ENTERING, THIS IS WHAT THE JUDGES WILL HAVE IN FRONT OF THEM WHILST THEY JUDGE YOUR BEER. IF YOU DELIVER ON THE FLAVOUR AND AROMA PROFILES AS DESCRIBED YOU WILL DO WELL. DON’T ENTER A BEER IF IT DOESN’T FIT INTO A STYLE. JUDGE IT FOR YOURSELF DOES IT TICK THE BOX’S AS DESCRIBED IN THE GUIDELINES. • TRY TO STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD, YOUR ENTRY WILL ONE OF POSSIBLY 20+ BEERS THE JUDGES WILL BE TRYING. BREW TO THE HIGHER END OF THE GUIDELINES SO YOUR BEER STANDS OUT. I TRY TO ENSURE ALL MY BEERS ARE SMOOTH WITH NO HARSH EDGES SO ITS VERY DRINKABLE AND HOPEFULLY THE JUDGES WILL WANT TO FINISH THE SAMPLE.
  19. PLAYING TO THE COMPETITION TYPE • FOR A COMMERCIAL TYPE

    COMPETITION – KNOW WHAT THEY WANT! • ARE THEY TRYING TO FILL A GAP IN THEIR RANGE AND CAN YOU SEE THAT GAP? • ARE THEY TRADITIONAL OR CRAFT? ADVENTUROUS OR NOT? • WHAT CAPABILITY DO THEY HAVE - WILL THEY REALLY MAKE A LAMBIC MIXED CULTURED FROM YOUR BELLY BUTTON BACTERIA AND AGED FOR ANOTHER YEAR IN AN OLOROSSO BARREL FROM YOUR GRANNIES AGEING SHERRY COLLECTION?
  20. HOW DO YOU WIN – TRIED AND TESTED STRATEGIES •

    BREW TO YOUR STRENGTHS, IF YOU HAVE A STYLE YOU DO WELL IN , THEN GO FOR THAT, DO 2 VERSIONS SPLIT THE BATCH AND ADD SOME ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS TO GET 2 ENTRIES FROM THE SAME SOLID BEER. MY APA CROSSROADS IS A EXAMPLE, I ADDED SOME EARL GREY IN THE KEG FOR ONE DAY AND ENTERED IT IN STYLE 30A SPICE HERB VEGETABLE. • GET YOUR BEERS TO THE EVENT IN THE BEST POSSIBLE CONDITION, PLAN YOUR ENTRIES AND BREW SCHEDULE WITH MILITARY PRECISION, DARK MALTY STRONG BEERS NEED TIME TO MATURE AND IMPROVE, WHILST FRESH HOPPY ALES OR WHEAT BEERS WILL DIE QUICKLY SO MAKE THEM YOUR LAST BEERS TO BE MADE. STORE YOUR COMPETITION ENTRY BEERS IN A FRIDGE TO KEEP THEM AT THEIR BRILLIANT BEST. IF YOU CAN OR HAVE THE EQUIPMENT TO DO IT I WOULD RECOMMEND FORCE CARBONATING YOUR BEERS ESPECIALLY THE HOPPY PALE ALES AND IPA’S YOU WILL HAVE CRYSTAL CLEAR BEER TO PRESENT TO THE JUDGES WITH OUT AND YEAST TO GET IN THE WAY OF THOSE HOP FLAVOURS. COMPETITIONS ARE NOTORIOUS FOR BOTTLES BEING DISTURBED WITH SEDIMENT BEING KICKED UP AS THEY ARE UNPACKED AND MOVED AROUND, THIS WILL HELP WITH YOUR SUCCESS. GET YOUR BEERS THERE AS LATE AS POSSIBLE SO THEY ARE NOT SITTING AROUND FOR WEEKS ON END. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO BRING YOUR BEERS TO THE COMPETITION IF YOU HAVE VOLUNTEERED TO HELP OUT ON THE DAY THIS IS A BIG ADVANTAGE. KNOW THINE ENEMY (CAN YOU REALLY BEAT 40 IPAS)
  21. HOW HOW DO YOU WIN – TRIED AND TESTED STRATEGIES

    • SPRAY AND PRAY – PLAYING THE NUMBERS GAME. JUDGING IS AN IMPERFECT PROCESS. BUT HAVE THOSE DAYS GONE? • PLANNING – MAKE FRESH BEERS WHERE THE STYLE DEMANDS, KEEP BACK BOTTLES OF BEERS THAT IMPROVE WITH AGE • KEEP YOUR COMPETITION ENTRIES AS COLD AS POSSIBLE • SPREAD BETTING – ONE BREW – 6 ENTRIES! • SIMILAR STYLES (EG BITTERS, APA/IPA) (EG FRASERS AGED IPA) • WOOD AGING/FRUIT OR HERB ADDITIONS ARE A SIMPLE WAY TO GET MORE ENTRIES • CARBONATE SOME WITH HONEY, OR MAPLE SYRUP • DEGAS (EG DEGASSING AN IPA BY UNCAPPING FOR AN HOUR THEN RECAPPING TO WIN AS A BITTER)
  22. HOW DO YOU WIN – OTHER STRATEGIES • GUESS THE

    WINNING STYLE – DO THEY FOLLOW TRENDS? (SOURS THIS YEAR?) • GUESS THE GROUPINGS THAT WILL HAVE LOWEST ENTRIES • KNOW THINE ENEMY – CAN YOU BEAT FRASER AND SASHA AND 40 OTHER IPAS? • CAN YOU MAKE A WINNING LAGER WITH UNTREATED LONDON TAP WATER?
  23. • MAKE GREAT BEER!! – YOU ARE VERY UNLIKELY TO

    WIN WITH A FAULTY BEER • UNDERSTAND HOW THE COMPETITION WORKS AND WHAT THEY ARE AFTER • FOLLOW THE RULES
  24. FOLLOW THE RULES – SOUNDS OBVIOUS, BUT…. • PAY ON

    TIME – SOME ARE UP FRONT, SOME AREN’T. • FINALISE YOUR ENTRY ON TIME – MAKE SURE ITS IN THE RIGHT CATEGORY WITH ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUIRED • PACKAGE YOUR ENTRY CORRECTLY – BOTTLE SIZE, CAP SIZE (AND MAYBE COLOUR). NOTHING THAT COULD IDENTIFY YOU OR THE BEER • LABEL YOUR ENTRY CORRECTLY – BOTH IN DETAILS AND HOW TO AFFIX THE LABEL. • GET YOUR ENTRY WHERE IT NEEDS TO BE, ON TIME. • DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP • (BUT TRY TO GET THE SIMPLE INFO FROM THE WEBSITE FIRST). • ORGANISERS, JUDGES AND OTHER ENTRANTS WILL ALL GUIDE YOU
  25. GOOD LUCK!