Once I moved to Pennsylvania, my options for submitting beers for competition and getting feedback would be different. NYC’s homebrew Alley homebrewing competition has a soft spot for me as it is the only competition I have submitted beers to and I decided to try three for three. In 2011 my Orange Chocolate Cardamom Porter took third, and in 2012 my Imperial Rye Biere de Garde took first (both in category). I shipped my beers this time around and I was not able to make it to the awards ceremony since the “perfect” snowstorm rolled in that day.
This year I submitted three beers, and I’m happy to report that my Mad Hatter Barleywine took first place in the English Barleywine category! This beer is about a year and a half old allowing for the 11.5% ABV content to mellow into a nice warming afterglow. My first review of the beer is here, and I still stand by my feeling that the beer is a tad full in body and under-attenuated. Although rich and complex in malt profile, it comes across syrupy for my taste. Although the beer won first in category, when it advanced to the “Best of Show” round it was eliminated for precisely this reason (they live recorded the judging). Some comments:
- “Big bodied beer with caramel sweetness, dried fruits. Malt sweetness is balanced by hop bitterness. Has definite alcohol warmth.”
- “A malty barleywine with enough with enough hop bitterness to offset malts. Some sherry, and a little hot”.
I also submitted two other beers, Kim’s Berliner Weisse and my American IPA #5. The Berliner Weisse scored the highest I’ve ever received at 44 but did not place. The IPA, scored in the “very good” category with a respectable 34. Honestly, I thought the Berliner would score less as the lactic sourness was not that strong. The IPA suffered from a weak aroma and didn’t have a chance with 60 other entries. Some overall impression comments:
- “Nice tart aroma, with hints of Brett in the nose. Very distinct and upfront lactic sourness. Very well made beer – almost perfect. Maybe just lacking the “intangible magic” in the finish. Super drinkable and refreshing. Great job”
- “This is a great example of the style. Slight tartness yet super drinkable. Could stand to be even a touch more tart. I’m sure it will age well!”
- “A solid well-rounded IPA. Perhaps could use a bit more “style hop” character, but otherwise a very well made beer. I enjoyed it, thanks for sharing!”
- “Nice overall, could have benefit from additional late hops to step up the aroma.”