Wednesday, April 24, 2013

America's Finest City Homebrew Competition 2013

I entered the America's Finest City Homebrew Competition this year, hosted by the QUAFF homebrew club for the 1st time.  Making this my 3rd homebrew competition ever.  I can't really say if I have the competition bug or not, but I really like the feedback from the judges (if it is well thought out).  Even though this post is late, its better than never, right?

I attended the award ceremony with Danny (DeeperRoots Brewing) and my buddy Sisco.  This also happened to be the first ever homebrew meeting I've been to.  It was nice to talking homebrew over beers with the QUAFF guys.  I ended up sitting next to Jeff (Bikes, Beers and Adventure) and tasting some of his well made sours.  Over all it was a great night, even though I didn't place in the 2 beers I entered.

Here are the results:

Gail, Belgian Dark Strong:  Scored a 38/50 Overall,  advanced to the Mini-BOS round. Category #18E Belgian Dark Strong

Judge #1, National 39/50

Aroma: 8/12 Rich malt aroma with prominent sweet notes.  Caramelized sugars.  Light bready notes.  Low spicy phenols

Appearance: 2.5/3 medium brown, Great clarity.  Moderate head.  head color is lt tan.

Flavor: 16/20 Rich malt flavor with notes of toast and caramel.  Lightly sweet but finish is not cloying.  Finishes dry.  Prominent phenolic spice, slight alcohol notes, low bitterness.

Mouthfeel: 4.5/5 Medium body, medium-high carbonation.  Low alcohol warmness.  Smooth and creamy.  No astringency.

Overall Impression: 8/10 A delicious dark strong with great malt complexity.  Perhaps some extra body (gravity points) it would score in the 40's

Judge #2, Certified  37/50

Aroma: 8/12 Rich malt; moderate dark fruit, plums. Not hot or peppery; toasty

Appearance:  2/3 Deep Amber with ruby notes, off white head w/fair retention.  Not creamy

Flavor: 16/20 Rich and completely malt dominated.  Hop bitterness is low; balance is to malty.  Low dark fruit flavor

Mouthfeel: 4/5 Light to medium body, moderate carbonation; warm but not hot, smooth but not creamy

Overall Impression: Very nice beer, malt is dominating, just a bit more dryness from the hops or a dry hopping would help.

I really think this beer is great, so much so that I sent it the NHC this year.  It will be interesting to see the comments side by side from the different judges (even if they are still San Diego based).  Overall I am happy with the judges comments on the beer.  They addressed the beers flaws and high points pretty well.  Pretty close to what I thought about it and tried to address on the rebrew Gail, Take #2

Janets Brown Ale #6  Scored a 30/50 Overall,  Category #10C American Brown Ale

Judge #1, Recognized 34/50

Aroma: 7/12 Some chocolate, toasty roasty.  A bit to roasted for the style.  Citrusy hops have some rosemary quality to them combined with the roasty malts.

Appearance: 3/3 Dark Brown Clear.  The head sticks around.

Flavor: 13/20 Chocolate, toasty and roasty malt.  Hops and grape fruity.  Malt tastes rosemary.  Finishes dry and clean with roast closing it out.

Mouthfeel: 4/5 Medium body and carbonation. 

Overall Impression: 7/10 A very well made beer, but to roasty for the style.  Change up the malt bill and this is a winner.

Judge #2, Certified  28/50

Aroma: 6/12 Malts-grainy, light toast, light grassy hops, no esters, no diacetyl overall great aroma.

Appearance:  3/3 Dark Brown hue, good clarity, creamy off white head, sustains well.

Flavor: 10/20 Moderate-high hop bitterness with low to moderate grassy hop flavor, light creamed and roasted malt, finishes dry, no esters or diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: 3/5 Medium full body, medium carbonation, creamy texture.

Overall Impression: 6/10 A very bitter brown ale or the style, this beer could be great by a stronger malt bill presence to balance the hops.  No flaws, this might be a few tweaks from greatness.

Lets be honest, I knew this was coming, people either love this recipe or kick it for being to hoppy and bitter or both.  Personally I love this beer they way it is, it's like its made for my taste buds.  This is the main reason I don't like sending beers off to competition.  Most of the styles I like don't fit into the BJCP guidelines.  Either way I am glad for the judges thoughts on the beer.  In fact I drank my last one from this batch last night. 


  1. I feel the same with you about competition. I don't plan my brewing schedule based on it, but when it comes time to enter I decide what I have available that might do well. A little anonymous validation feels pretty good.

    So what batch of Belgian Dark Strong just won at NHC?

    1. The same batch that I sent to America's Finest. The second batch is on draft now. Its good, but the aged version is better.


Thanks for Commenting, Prost!