The Samley Cup – Finale.
Here it is, the long awaited results of a brew day I won’t soon forget. After countless cask nights and tap launches, innumerable brewery tours, two beer schools (Cicerone and Prud homme) and many (and I mean many) beer tastings I went up against all I’ve ever known that is beer and produced my own. What was the result? Will I forever leave it to the professionals? Leave it to the members of the Home Brewers Association? Leave it to the guys I know that have produced more litres of beer than I have cocktails?
Well, scroll down if you can’t wait for the answer, but for those that don’t want spoilers – Read on for the play-by-play.
We all gathered at the 7pm start time of the finals of the Samley Cup, an annual home brewer event sponsored by Sam Adams. Around me, were 10 other brewers that had all come equipped with their own style of beer based around home brewing. As with any drink competition, I was used to the waiting. Luckily, @DamonD and the Nice Guys Trivia had our backs with the weekly Wednesday Smileys Trivia.
While we answered trivia questions of all shapes and sizes, we watched and waited as the Trio of Judges tasted and marked our beers based on the classic beer tasting spread:
Aroma /12, Appearance /3, Flavour /20, Mouthfeel /5 Overall /10.
This was very familiar to the stint of judging I did at the Vancouver Home Brewer Awards at this past spring’s VCBW. Here’s a look at our fearless judges:
A few Sam Adams Oktoberfest pints down and the nerves had worn off. The judges definitely took their time (which always helps in a competition) and eventually landed on a winner. Of 10 entries, our 3rd place winner was our very own 1000 Acres Lager, brewed by Ryan Elliot. 2nd place went to Darby’s 2. (think Canada 2 in beach volleyball at the Olympics). Our victors were the young bucks from Brewery Creek.
I was able to sample all three beers and all were quite good. Well played fellas.
So by now I am sure you’re wondering, how I faired in the competition, given it was my first kick at the proverbial can. Well, not to disappoint, I decided to steal the judging sheets on my beer to see what the judges thought of my strange brew.
Aroma (hops. malt, esters, etc): 6/12, 9/12, 7/12
Comments: Sweet Candy, Licorice, good aroma, sour apple
Appearance (colour, clarity, head/head retention/head texture): 2/3, 2/3, 1.5/3
Comments: Clear Ruby, Red, No head, Great Color, Good Clarity (aside from no head, I’ll take it)
Flavour (hops, malt, fermentation characteristics, balance, finish/aftertaste): 14/20, 8.5/20, 10.5/20 (not going to lie, but this one stung a bit. Knowing the lack of carbonation in my brew, I expected some low marks. I tasted it a week ago and again per-comp and thought the same. Did I spit it out? No. Would I pay for a pint? NOPE.
Mouthfeel (body, carbonation, warmth, creaminess, astringency) 3/5, 2/5, 2/5 Again, little to no carbonation usually equals little to no mouthfeel. I’m okay with the marks, not excited, but okay.
Overall Impression (overall drinking enjoyment): 6/10, 4/10, 4.5/10 Thankfully, no comments in this section.
So my findings from this experiment: A lot of room to grow with a learning curve to follow. I did ok with flavour, and the comments on clarity got me going. Learn to carbonate and I’m doing ok. The upside? I have a great start on a home brewing setup. The downside? The results of my homebrew experiment is on the interweb forever. Deal with that.
So with a few nice comments and a few “constructive” criticisms I am set to go with Brew Day #2. I’m all but set to try this battle again. From this point, I can only get better and practice, as they say, makes perfect. My only goal for this next batch is to surpass a comment that was made by a beer mentor of mine after only smelling my beer: “I wouldn’t Drink that.”
For those of you that are still on pins & needles… Yes, I did drink a full pint of my brew, and I have 128 more ounces waiting to be consumed chilling in my fridge as I type. I may or may not let you all know if I take down the rest.