Fooling Yourself

When I began homebrewing I was thrilled. I think most homebrewers are. It is a neat feeling to create a wort and turn billions of little critters loose on it. Watch it bubble, bubble, bubble along until finally it finishes. Rush the bottling and wait wait wait until patience be damned and you crack open the first bottle…

And then what? Excitement and pleasure and… doubt. What is that flavor? Is that a bad thing or a good thing? Once I started making beer I started wondering how good or bad my beer was. Friends offer complements, but what do they know?

Reading a description of flavors only goes so far. So eventually I took and passed the BJCP exam and followed that up with some judging experience.  It was all good but I began noticing how different people tasted and judged beers.  Most people are great to judge with.  A few experienced judges have done their best to share insights and make me a better judge.  But a few I found to be bullies.  Very confident in their opinions and dismissive of disagreement.  Frustrating to me.

Steve Novella reviewed a number  of studies that show when it comes to judging alcoholic beverages, experts are just average.  It has been shown time and time again that people are so easily fooled.  Add some red food coloring to a white wine and suddenly the experts will be talking tannins.  Entering into a competition?  Winning is probably highly dependent on luck.  I have been there.  Being the first or last IPA in the bunch can be the kiss of death.

So it all comes back to me and how I like my beers.  I am now confident in my ability to judge my beer, and I while I love to see others enjoy them I don’t seek anyone’s validation.  Will I have beer in the next competition?  Probably.  Will I worry about winning?  Nah.

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