War of the Worts: Results are in…

The war is officially over and while my entries may have fought the good battle, no awards were brought home. I did receive some great, unbiased feedback from judges on all levels. To my surprise, the beers I submitted were scored by not only a professional brewer but a Grand Master too! These scoresheets alone made the entry fee well worth it. The overwhelming response to both beers was that they were too young. Here’s the recap with my own tasting notes:

Lucky 7’s IPA
Category: 14B
Score: 32.5 out of 50

What the judges said: This beer received very good scores for both aroma and taste, which is promising. Adjectives like “piney, resiny, and juicy fruit” were used. The appearance and mouthfeel were not so favorable. Comments like “Carbonation non-existent, kind of kills the beer,” and “Really disappointed…because if it had carbonation I really feel it would have been wonderful. It has so much going for it.” I can’t argue with them considering this picture was taken the same day of the judging:

My thoughts: After Lucky 7’s had another week to mature, it’s become very enjoyable. The head has some real nice lacing and good retention. I picked up the same piney and resiny characteristics the judges noted. The taste has a fair share of bitterness up front and finishes with fruity citrus notes. I think the mouthfeel is still lacking a bit because of a stickiness left in the back of the throat. Overall, I think a little more balance would tighten everything up. I’m still undecided whether to call it an IPA or IIPA. Here’s a pic from my tasting for comparison sake. You can see the difference a week makes… sorry judges!

Citritine Snap APA
Category: 21A
Score: 24 out of 50

What the judges said: Just like the IPA, this beer suffered from a lack of head and body. Unfortunately it also missed the mark for taste too. Judges critiqued that the beer “didn’t come together as a balances whole product” and “too complex… cut back on spices.” It was also noted that the citrus dominated without enough malt to counter.

My thoughts: I can agree with the judges and say this beer missed the mark. Indecisiveness was the fatal flaw. I started with an idea and tried to build upon this during fermentation. Adding the clementines during primary and the spices at bottling are two additions I would adjust. That’s not to say I would completely give up on the spiced tea idea, but I think the spices would have been better during the boil. It’ll be interesting to see how this beer develops because even though it didn’t turn out as intended, I can already notice some of its characteristics changing slightly. The idea of a ginger snap beer has potential and with some tweaks to the recipe I hope it’ll shine.

Congratulations to all the winners in the War of the Worts! Click here for a complete list of all the winners.

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We’re going to war!

The finishing touches have been put on the first two brews of the year. I’ve tried to give extra attention to both batches throughout every step of the process. Hopefully it pays off because I decided to enter both beers in a BJCP sanctioned competition. The War of the Worts is a local competition hosted by Keystone Homebrew that draws over 700 entries. It seemed to be a perfect opportunity to get some honest feedback. But enter a contest without even tasting the finish product? Why not!

The Lucky 7’s IPA ended up being 7.6% abv and crystal clear. Even though I dry hopped with over an ounce of Citra pellets, the beer was very bright during transfer. The long cold conditioning stage seemed to be a huge help to clear anything suspended. Although this beer fits in the guidelines of an imperial IPA, I decided to enter it as an IPA. This beer was right on the border of IPA and IIPA. It seemed to be better suited as a stronger IPA without the imperial notation. I have high hopes for this one.

The Citritine Ale ended up being more of an experiment towards the end. Just like Lucky 7’s, this one finished clear with some nice Citra aroma from the dry hopping. I was still getting a little sweetness from the clementines, but felt it could use another layer of flavor. Randy Mosher covers a technique of adding a spiced tea at bottling in Radical Brewing which I’ve been wanting to try.

The general concept is to take a small sample of beer, add the spiced tea and then scale it up for the batch. With a couple of unsuspecting friends visiting I decided to give it a shot. I prepared two teas: One with clementine zest and coriander and another with ginger. The consencious of everyone who mixed and taste tested was that the ginger lended itself best to this beer. One critique was the beer tasted a little watery, which I definitely agreed with.

In the end I decided to combine ginger with some fresh cinnamon sticks to hopefully create a ginger snap bite. The tea ended up being about 16 ounces made with three sticks of cinnamon and two tablespoons of fresh ginger. This one was entered in the contest as spiced beer (21A) because I felt the cinnamon and ginger would be more pronounced. Only time will tell…