Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2015 America's Finest Homebrew Competition Results

As normal, I enter 2 beer competitions a year.  Quaff's, America's Finest Homebrew Competition (AFC) is a test place for my National Homebrew Competiton entries. AFC is a really large competition at around 600 entries and its local which I like.  I've always received solid feedback on the beers I've sent. 

This year I entered 4 beers into AFC, 2 of them are sold contenders, the other 2 are ok beers but really don't have a place in the BJCP guidelines.  It ended up working out as I thought and the 2 better beers metaled.

My thoughts are below.

Farmers Daughter 2013, Blend #2:  Scored a 41/50 Overall. Category #17B Flanders Red Ale. 3rd Place, America's Finest City Homebrew Competition 2015

Judge #1, Not Stated 39/50

Aroma: 9/12 Sour, Black cherries, hint of diacetyl.  Some vanilla notes that blend well and support the rest of the noted. 

Appearance: 3/3  Deep Red clear, moderate white head that lingers for several minutes.  Lingering lacey white head

Flavor: 16/20 Cherry fruitness, bit spicy, moderate sour character, some hop bitterness.  Bready, caramel maltiness that supports it all.

Mouthfeel: 4/5 Moderate in body and high in carbonation, light sweet finish

Overall Impression: 7/10 Great Job! Some of the sourness in the flavor overpowered everything else

Judge #2, Certified 43/50

Aroma: 10/12 Black Cherry fruitness with a key pleasant sourness in aroma.  Very slight pepper phenolic aroma as it warms.

Appearance: 3/3  Reddish-brown in color with a full long lasting off white head, very clean and clear

Flavor:  17/20 Black cherry flavor dominates with hints of plum.  Very pleasant sourness accompanied by a subtle sweetness, no hop flavor, finished dry

Mouthfeel: 5/5  Medium bodied with a medium carbonation, low alcohol warmth, finished dry.  No astringency.

Overall Impression: 8/10 Excelent example of a Flanders Red.  Very complex dark fruit aroma and flavors of dark cherries - sourness and sweetness is balanced perfectly.  Great Beer

Chris's Notes:  On the results site I entered it as my 2012 Flanders, Blend #7, but when it came time to drop off the entries I wanted to keep the 2012 Blend all to myself and dropped off my 2013 Blend #2.  Which is really young but surprisingly good for its age.  I was really surprised by the overall scores on this one.  I was thinking it's a 39 point beer, not a 43, as one judge stated.  My house blend of bugs have really achieved what I wanted in my Flanders, saying that I have high hopes for 2014's Blend.  (which is about 3 months old currently)

Here is a link to the recipe and my Tasting Notes.

Hold My Hand Into the Sunset:  Scored a 36/50 Overall. Category #26C  
Open Category Mead, Brettanomyces Ferment, Sparkling, Dry 3rd Place, America's Finest City Homebrew Competition 2015

Judge #1, National 36/50

Bouquet/Aroma: 7/10  Dry mild Aroma, mild cherry hibiscus, slight hint of brettanomyces yeast, hibiscus and cherry as it warms

Appearance: 6/6  Dark pink / red color, light pink resilient head, clear small legs.

Flavor: 17/24 Dry (FG less than 1.000) no sweetness to speak of, tart cherry is evident, hibiscus is
relatively subtle, sparkling carbonation is pleasant.  Its hard to pick out the Brett-maybe a bit more astringency. 

Overall Impression: 6/10 Good dry melomel, cherry is evident, I suggest increasing the hibiscus.  Very refreshing mead

Judge #2, Certified 36/50

Bouquet/Aroma: 7/10  Tart aroma, some cherry aroma.  Low honey aroma, some floral aroma

Appearance: 6/6  Beautiful Red rose color.  Long lasting head.  Brilliant clarity, some legs formation.

Flavor:  16/24 Quite tart, I would like a little more sweetness.  Light bodied, dry, very refreshing.  Leaves a sour note on my palate. 

Overall Impression: 6/10 Quite refreshing, comes across as a fruit lambic more than a mead.  Would prefer a more sweet and honey character. 

Chris's Notes:  For starters, I'm glad this mead scored well and placed.  However this might be one of the styles that will never really fit into the BJCP guidelines.  The primary ferment with Brett C/Trois is noticeable but only to a trained pallet.  Most mead judges will not notice this or if they do, they will knock it.  So I declared it to the judges.  Which could work against me, since the untrained Mead judge might look for Sour or tart flavors. (Which this has from the tart cherries) I really need to put some thought into this one for NHC 2015.  

Here is a link to the recipe and Tasting Notes

Low Bush Blackberry Wild Ale:  Scored a 34.5/50 Overall. Category #16E 
Belgian Specialty Ale. America's Finest City Homebrew Competition 2015

Judge #1, Pro Brewer 34/50

Aroma: 9/12 Acidic, subtle berries, slight funk from lacto but not a lot. Get some spicy and a little hops.

Appearance: 3/3  Hazy orange-amber with a slight purple hue.  Head is good.

Flavor: 12/20 First is earth and spice, then it becomes acidic and finishes with berries.  Good fruity yeast base enhanced by berries.  Some astringency and funk. 

Mouthfeel: 4/5 Good, medium, on par for a Pale Belgian Ale.

Overall Impression: 6/10  Its good, but nothing about it wows me.  Could use a bigger black berry kick.  Lacto was nice, but it could be more.  I would add more berries, really kick it up up the color and flavor.  Then maybe let it sit for longer or ferment only with lacto, but then it would be the wrong category. 

Judge #2, Certified 35/50

Aroma: 11/12 Blueberry tart/vanilla Brett.  Aroma is subtle with grain/pils malt aroma present underneath. 

Appearance: 3/3  Red Amber in color with thick moosy strawberry to blue head.

Flavor: 12/20 Brett/ Yogarty tartness. Berry flavors dominate, light bitterness, buttery background with tart flavors.  Vanilla, lacks saison spice.  Overall works as a Belgian pale but Belgian yeast profile is over shadowed by brett.

Mouthfeel: 4/5 Smooth creamy, mouthfeel, yogart like flavor is somewhat grainy

Overall Impression: 6/10 This is an interesting beer but a bit disjointed, yogart like profile is a bit distracting.  Berry flavor is prominent, this would be better is berry aroma with dominate and more subdued into flavor.

Chris's Notes:  This is a strange beer, really strange beer.  I never wanted or intended to send this off to any competition but I found a bunch of them in the fridge, so off it went.  I agree with the judges 100% on this one.  It is good, solid but not wowing to me. 

Here is a link to the recipe and Tasting Notes

Cucuy, Batch #8:  Scored a 35/50 Overall. Category #13E 
American Stout. America's Finest City Homebrew Competition 2015

Judge #1, Novice Judge w/ Sensory Training 34/50

Aroma: 8/12 Sweet caramel, bread, chocolate, PNW hops (citrus) Fruity esters

Appearance: 3/3  Spot on color, great clarity, moderate head retention

Flavor: 12/20 PNW hops and bitterness, bitter/rich chocolate, sweet bread, caramel, coffee roastness

Mouthfeel: 4/5 Good body with a creamy mouthfeel, lingering hop bitterness

Overall Impression: 7/10 Hop character leans more toward Black IPA than American Stout.  Hops cover up some of the bolder malt character.  Back down on the hop bitterness for this category. 

Judge #2, Certified 36/50

Aroma: 9/12 Strong dark roast aroma, notes of coffee and slight chocolate.  Slight burnt grain notes.  Low/no hop aroma.  No diacytl.

Appearance: 3/3 Dark Black color, very clear and clean.  Full long lasting tan head.

Flavor: 13/20Very strong dark coffee roast.  Mild chocolate like bitterness, mild burnt coffee notes.  low/no hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: 4/5  Medium body with medium carbonation.  Slight alcohol warmth, not creamy and slight burnt coffee astringency.

Overall Impression: 7/10  Good example of an American Stout.  Strong roast character in both aroma and flavor.  No hop aroma of flavor.  Medium bitterness from hops.  Good tasting beer.

Chris's Notes:  This is a hard beer to judge.  Its to low ABV wise for a RIS, its not a black IPA once aged, yet it simply misses the American Stout category.  This is the eighth time I've brewed this beer, I love them all but it just doesn't do well in competitions.  Its come back with 42's down to 32's but never placed.  Maybe I should just drink them all?

Here is a link to the recipe and Tasting Notes  

For a list of all the winners, click here.  Now its time to plan out my NHC entries. 


  1. Congrats Chris!

    I just brewed a derivative of your Cucuy recipe a few weeks ago, it's sitting on cacao nibs right now. Keep up the great work and good luck at the NHC!


    1. Fabian,

      You will have to let me know how the Cucuy turns out. I love that beer and to be honest any beer that's close. Thanks for the kind words, I'll update once I get the 1st round results.

  2. The content was really very interesting.


Thanks for Commenting, Prost!