2011 NZ National Home Brew Competition – Judging Day

This weekend past was the judging of the New Zealand National Homebrew Competition as organised by SOBA . http://nhc.soba.org.nz/

There were over 400 beers entered in the multitude of categories, which the organisers managed to collate and organise. I went along to the judging on the Saturday as a steward, and was mainly involved in getting the beers to the judges. This involved a lot of organising beer entries, filling in beer details on the score sheets, pouring beer and cleaning glasses etc, but also plenty of hearing/seeing the judges comments on the beer and being able to taste it as well. It was a great learning opportunity and I now have a deeper knowledge of what some beer faults actually taste like in a beer.

Any time a beer got a gold medal a bunch of us jumped in and had a taste of the beer as well. There were some fantastic beers submitted and I loved being able to try the variations in style.

The biggest thing I think I noted from tasting a number of beers is that a number of people who submitted hoppy beers had perhaps brewed them too early for the competition as the hop flavours were not as bright and fresh as expected. I have found with my hoppy beers that they are best consumed about 3 weeks after bottling and the hop flavour diminished from there. I think a number of the hoppy beers submitted may have suffered from this fate.

There were 4 tables judging the beer, and each table had 3 judges, who would come to a consensus on the score and comments of the beer. Starting at about 8.30 in the morning and going through until about 6.30 that evening the 12 judges managed to get through about 320 beers on the Saturday. This was a huge effort! That left them with another 80 or so to get through on the Sunday.

It was fantastic meeting some of the other home brewers and also meeting some of the people from the beer industry. I also made a connection with someone who has an apple cider press which I can borrow come apple season so I am stoked about that as well!

All in all it was a great experience and I really enjoyed the chance to taste so many diverse beers and to learn a bunch about beer evaluation. I look forward to seeing the results come out on Saturday 26th of November. I submitted a few beers and have no idea how some of them did and so cant wait to find out.

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About Zane

Mountain biking and beer brewing Zane. Mountain biking since 87 and love it. I really enjoy getting outback on challenging trails in real mountains with like minded mates. http://mountainbikingzane.wordpress.com/ Brewing since 2010 and the beer keeps getting better. https://inzanebrew.wordpress.com/
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6 Responses to 2011 NZ National Home Brew Competition – Judging Day

  1. Greig McGill says:

    Nice write up! Any idea on the overall standard this year? Last year was a low point, I’m hoping for a return to 2009’s high standard!

    • Zane says:

      Hi Greig. With it being the first year I have been involved I am unsure of the overall standard compared with other years, and I did not pick up on any comments by judges/organisers that indicated whether the quality was up or down. I do know that overall numbers of entries were up with about 400 beers entered, which I think is a sign of more people getting into home brewing in NZ which is great!

      • Greig McGill says:

        I heard tell of a lot of people “carpet bombing” this year, with up to 25 entries for a single entrant, so more people, or just more beers? 😉 How many entrants (if you know)?

      • Zane says:

        I dont know if there were more people, but I would guess that there were over 100 people that entered beers, so at an average of 4 beers a person it does not sound too bad. There may have been some “carpet bombing” however. I know that I struck a patch of about 6 APA’s in a row that were by the same person (or at least had the same entry ID and so were submitted by the same person). I did hear a number of people comment “at only $5 per entry why not enter a whole lot”.

  2. Ted says:

    “Carpet bombing” kind of implies that it’s a strategy being used to try and win the contest. Winning often is not the motivator for entering. People I know that are entering think of it more as a $5 professional beer evaluation, which is a pretty cheap way to accurately diagnose problems and makes fixing them much easier. Approaching the contest from that perspective means that the worse beer is the more reason there is to send it in; in that case every beer they have made would get sent in.
    NHC’s in other countries sometimes have a 1 entry per class rule, so if it was decided that “carpet bombing” was a problem then you could just adopt that rule or make it more expensive to enter. That would force entrants to either enter their best beer, to try and win, or the most problematic one for a diagnosis.

    • Greig McGill says:

      Last year we definitely saw a lot of competitive carpet bombing. The trash talk on the forums and knowledge of the people involved (really good brewers who are perfectly capable of self-diagnosing their own faults) backed this up. 😉 I don’t see it as an issue, but I was keen to see a rule implemented that deducted “championship” points for beers scoring less than X. This means the individual scores for each beer are untouched, and people going for prizes only would be forced to only enter beers they truly had faith in to win. I don’t know if this happened, but if I run another one, that’s what I’ll be doing! 🙂

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