I suspect I have been homebrewing longer than the average homebrewer, but I don’t have much history in competition.  Not too long after I started I entered a couple of beers in the local competition (this was probably 1998 or so).  I did not win any medals, but my beers scored in the mid to upper 30’s, which is not shabby by any means.  All the while I had my eye on the BJCP exam, with the thought that I would eventually like to see how my beer knowledge ranked.

It was in 2009 that the hand of fate stepped in.  A friend from work told me about the Brewmasters, a group who met twice a month to taste and evaluate craft beers.  There I met a guy named Chris, a member of the local brew clubs, who informed me of the study group that had just begun to study for the BJCP exam. Fast forward a few months and I had passed the BJCP exam (no small feat!).  Because I was now licensed to judge, I volunteered to judge for the local competition.  Of course, I had to enter some of my beer, too.

So in my second attempt in beer competition, I entered a saison (among others), a style that I had recently discovered and was growing to love.  Well, that saison finished second in its category, and I was pleased with that.  Last year, I entered a slightly different version of my saison in the competition.  And doggone it, it finished second, too.  Except this time the beer that won the category also won the best of show beer.  That made coming in second a little more frustrating, not that the winning beer did not deserve its glory, just the fate of being in the same category with such a good beer.

Which brings us to 2012.  One more time with the saison.  Another recipe tweak.  And I like this beer.  I used some malted rye, and chose to use coriander.  This beer is beautiful, deep gold and absolutely clear.  And you know what?

Gold medal. Yeah!

Runner up, best of show. Wow!

So I guess my saison will always be a second place beer, which is fine by me.  Right now I will be surprised if I enter a saison in competition again. Because it is still a first place beer in my brewery.


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  • David Ivey  On March 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Congratulations! I”m sure that is no small feat.
    Best of show –very nice!
    I’ve not yet had the courage to enter comps, but probable will soon.


    David Ivey
    Black Bucket Brew Inbox Magazine Editor
    PS. Please check out our free e-book and mag.

    • littleboybrew  On March 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Thanks. While there is always an element of luck in winning an award, I am convinced that a good brewer can substantially increase his/her opportunities. I just don’t know which group I fall into, lucky or good!

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