Saturday, July 15, 2017

Best-of-Show Beer Styles Session

At the end of a homebrew judging competition, the first place beers from each style category head to a best-of-show (BOS) round where a small panel of beer judges picks the top beers that best illustrate specific styles. Owen Ogletree gathered The Beer Wench, Thel Melton, Ashton Smith, Ian Meents, Flavia Costa, Andrew Borchert and Dean & Gail Graves for a BOS practice round showcasing 12 American craft beers that were served at the recent Classic City Brew Fest in Athens, Georgia. Look below for the judges' comments and list of winners - all based on BJCP style guidelines.

Photos by Ashton Smith and Melissa Melton

First Place
Gose with lime juice & peel, black limes and sea salt
Comments from the judges: intense lime notes; nice fruit and salt character, moderate acidity; mineral-like; pleasant lactic acidity; bright flavors; good balance with lime; attractive lime aroma; exactly as described; almost flawless for style.

Style summary from the BJCP: 
A highly-carbonated, tart and fruity wheat ale with a restrained spice and salt character and low bitterness. Refreshing, with bright flavors and high attenuation, this specialty example should have well balanced lime complexity.

Second Place
German Pils
Comments from the judges: lemony; sweet, honey-like flavors; crisp and clean; nice light malts; pleasing hops in the finish; attractive golden color; floral hops; good malt sweetness for balance. 

Style summary from the BJCP:
A light-bodied, highly-attenuated, gold-colored, bottom-fermented (lagered) bitter German beer showing excellent head retention and an elegant, floral hop aroma. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, a German Pils showcases the finest quality German malt and hops.

Third Place
Double IPA
Comments from the judges: smells of lemongrass; malty; lemon; citrus; lavender; light toffee, quite herbal; nice hop flavor; somewhat sweet finish; clean; good malt/hop balance; delicious example of style; lingering hop bitterness is pleasant; big malt. 

Style summary from the BJCP:
An intensely hoppy, fairly strong pale ale without the big, rich, complex maltiness and residual sweetness and body of an American barleywine. Strongly hopped, but clean, dry, and lacking harshness.

Honorable Mention
American IPA
Comments from the judges: pours cloudy with sediment; pine, citrus aromas; low bitterness; fruity notes; bitterness comes through as beer warms; good balance of malt and hops; could be a bit more hop forward; good malt backbone; pleasant hop flavor. 

Style summary from the BJCP:
A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties with notes of citrus, pine, berries and/or tropical fruits.

Smoked American Porter
Comments from the judges: dark malts; light smoke note; burned plastic; chocolate hint; fruity; cocoa aroma; charcoal hint; fusel-like hint; smoked meat nuance; chocolate malt ball character; body is a bit thin.

Style summary from the BJCP:
A smoke-enhanced beer showing good balance between the smoke and beer character. A substantial, malty dark beer with a complex and flavorful dark malt character. More bitter and often stronger with more dark malt qualities and dryness than English Porters.

Cream Ale with coffee
Comments from the judges: green bell pepper notes in aroma and flavor; a touch vegetal from the coffee; creamy; green apple hint; green coffee beans; sweet, malty cream ale character comes through.

Style summary from the BJCP:
A clean, well-attenuated, flavorful American “lawnmower” beer. Easily drinkable and refreshing, with more character than typical American lagers. This specialty example should showcase balanced coffee notes, with the cream ale base remaining recognizable.

Black Saison
Comments from the judges: black pepper notes; licorice; clove, fruity esters; spicy; subtle dark malt notes; saison fermentation notes; slightly smoky; green apple hints; burnt notes.

Style summary from the BJCP:
A spicy, highly-attenuated, moderately-bitter, moderate-strength Belgian ale with a dry finish. Typically highly carbonated, and using non-barley cereal grains and optional spices for complexity to complement the expressive yeast character that is fruity, spicy, and not overly phenolic. This dark variation includes dark malt character.

Strong Bitter 
Comments from the judges: malty; sweet taste; low bitterness; caramel notes; fruity; toffee; light fruity esters; hops are restrained; malt-forward; could use a bit more hop bitterness for balance.

Style summary from the BJCP:
An average-strength to moderately strong British bitter ale (ABV: 4.6 – 6.2%). The balance may be fairly even between malt and hops to somewhat bitter. A rather broad style that allows for considerable interpretation by the brewer.

American Pale Ale
Comments from the judges: hoppy but also fruity; malt is a touch sweet for style; tea tannins; low bitterness; ripe fruit; wood-like notes; black tea hints; light citrusy hops; could use more crisp hop character.

Style summary from the BJCP:
A pale, refreshing and hoppy ale, yet with sufficient supporting malt to make the beer balanced and drinkable. The clean hop presence should reflect American or New World hop varieties. An average-strength, hop-forward beer that's lighter in aroma, flavor and body than American IPAs.

American Porter
Comments from the judges: dark chocolate; molasses hints; roasty; slightly smoky; cocoa hints; dry finish; creamy body; roasted malts come through; hops are restrained; fruity with a berry note; dark chocolate; burnt malt hints.

Style summary from the BJCP:
A substantial, malty dark beer with a complex and flavorful dark malt character. More bitter and often stronger with more dark malt qualities and dryness than English Porters. Less strong and assertive than American Stouts.

American Wheat Beer
Comments from the judges: banana; strawberry hint; wheat flavors are light; fruity; mild hops; pleasant cereal malt note; light flavors of wheat; sweet malt comes through; hops are quite light for style; melon hint; light bready character; cloudy appearance is attractive.

Style summary from the BJCP:
Refreshing wheat beers that can display more hop character and less yeast character than their German cousins. A clean fermentation character allows bready, doughy, or grainy wheat flavors to be complemented by hop flavor and bitterness rather than yeast qualities.

Oatmeal Stout with coffee
Comments from the judges: light mouthfeel for style; hints of coffee; clean; roasted malt; body seems a bit thin for style; espresso hint; dry; lacks slickness and viscosity from oats; mild aroma and flavor; cream and coffee aroma; could use a touch more coffee and oat character. 

Style summary from the BJCP:
A dark, full-bodied, roasty, malty ale with a complementary oatmeal flavor and enhanced mouthfeel from oats. The sweetness, balance, and oatmeal impression can vary considerably. This specialty version should showcase balanced coffee notes, with the underlying Oatmeal Stout style still shining through.

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