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.