I helped steward the AFC homebrew contest this past weekend. In volunteering for this event I had hoped to learn more about beer and beer judging. I did not learn much about beer but rather the judges. The event was being held in the church hall, which I found very interesting. When I walked in the everyone was already seated and eagerly awaiting to get started. **There were no Organic Beers entered**
I was assigned to Cat. 9 which is Scottish and Irish Ales. There were 4 judges and after talking to them a bit I found that 2 were experienced (~6yrs) and 2 were not (<2yrs). I found the judging portion to be the most interesting. As brewers we are very proud of what we make, similar to a chef and his plate. Although feedback from one of these events can be very helpful and important, this event may have changed my mind.
Let me explain:
During the event the experienced (exp.) judges techniques and descriptions (words chosen to describe the beers flavor, aroma, mouth feel etc.) were well more refined than the inexperienced (inexp.) judges (no surprise). The judges interaction is what I found the most interesting. For example, after they wrote down remarks and scores for that beer each judge spoke about what they found. After each beer they asked each other what they scored that beer, and if the scores were far apart the inexp. judge usually changed his score a little higher. Now, after witnessing this I firmly believe that the judges should never ask what they score was given, but rather what they found in the beer. In fact, the score should never even be known except by the steward who must average the scores before turning them in.
1) Don't take the judges remarks to heart, unless you win! HAHA. (basically a crap shoot who you will get and if they like that style to begin with.
2) I had fun and will steward again.
3) I will enter my beers (and take #1 into account).
4) It's all about having FUN!