Beer Evaluation - Another Point of View

The following is from a BJCP Grand Master V judge, Gordon Strong, and it follows what I have been teaching.

The full article is here /docs/Zymurgy_judge_article.pdf Here come da Judge

Phases of Completing the Scoresheet

I usually teach people to assess a beer and record comments on a scoresheet in three phases:

perception, appreciation, and feed-back.

In the perception phase, the judge simply records all aroma, appearance, flavor and mouthfeel perceptions without making any value judgments on them. It is helpful to mention characteristics in the order that you perceive them, and to try to quantify their intensity or strength. For example, if you detect hops in the aroma, were they the first thing you smelled? How strong are they in relation to the other aromatics? Also try to be specific about the nature or quality of the perception. For example, rather than saying you tasted “malt,” can you say whether it was grainy, bready, toasty, roasty, or caramel-like? When you can use these qualifiers in describing your perceptions, you are passing on much more useful information to the brewer.

In the appreciation phase of completing the scoresheet, the judge should relate perceptions to the requirements of the style guidelines. Here is where knowledge of beer styles is most useful. Make sure your comments reflect the proper beer style, not your personal prejudices. A beer does not have to be technically flawed to be stylistically inaccurate. For example, you might note that a beer has a “beautiful golden color with brilliant clarity” but then go on to state “unfortunately a dry stout should be dark black and opaque.” Be sure you know the style you are judging, and evaluate it constructively.

In the feedback phase, the judge should suggest corrective actions to the brewer for any technical or stylistic faults noted during the assessment. These corrective actions might include suggestions on ways to improve ingredient selection, equipment handling, brewing process, or packaging of the beer. Don’t make undue assumptions about how the beer was made; if you don’t know, don’t guess.

OK, now we will do our tasting exercise, go grab an evaluation beer and a clean glass.

For now, as you would do for any style you will judge at a competition, review the style guide for the beer you are about to taste.

Ready? Ok, now put the Style Guide away, you don’t need it here (we will grab it in a few minutes), After doing this several times it will become natural and second nature, that is what we are looking for.

Now evaluate the beer (remember, no style guide), just record what you sense. (Perception phase)

Done with that, great, now open the Style Guide and see if the description there prompts you to edit (better describe) what you sensed or put words to what you weren’t sure of. (Still Perception phase)

Finally, did that beer match style, was it “off”, How? (Appreciation phase) You will not have the luxury of the Style Guide on the exam, here we are using it as a learning tool for the style.

What could be done to improve this beer? (Feedback phase)

At last, score it.

Great, see if you can do this for a couple more of the evaluation beers you purchased.

Note: in a classroom situation you would be getting about a 3 oz evaluation sample, here, in the comfort of your home, you are most likely dealing with 12 ounce or pint sized samples, some of which are real big beers. Please drink responsibly. Consider evaluating only one or two of these at a sitting or share with friends.