Why enter the Titletown Open
At some point most of us homebrewers will want to enter some of our beers into a contest. But then again, some don’t or won’t. Usually because of a general misunderstanding of what happens in a contest or what it’s all about. Let’s take a quick look.
Right out of the gate, the most important thing to understand is that while yes, it is important to make awesome, great tasting beer, (I personally know that everyone reading this already does), A BJCP scored contest is NOT where the “winners” are determined without any, or very little, criteria other than “hmm, this tastes great”. That is a People’s Choice style of contest, and that is NOT what the Titletown Open is.
A BJCP scored type contest, is a contest where you brew a SPECIFIC beer, that has SPECIFIC guidelines including not only taste, but color, aroma, bitterness level, mouthfeel….,then those Beers are numerically scored on how closely they adhere to those SPECIFIC guidelines that are unique to each style.
Most brewers more or less brew that way anyway. Maybe without even realizing it. When you are choosing what beer to brew, you ask yourself.. “What should I brew?” Then in your head you flip through the different styles. If someone hands a you a beer, the first thing you ask is, “what is it?” Because we generally know, or generally expect what a specific style should be like.
For some brewers, the best parts of the contest are, figuring out just exactly where a beer fits, or tinkering with a recipe to closer fit a certain style. Not just brewing “a” beer, but can I brew “that” beer.
Getting to the stage where you can brew “that” beer is a journey of all kinds of learning. Not just learning the style guidelines, but things like how different ingredients, or amounts of ingredients affect a beer, or maybe learn a new process, or just how different things affect those points in the guidelines. You will start to see things in beers or about your beer you’ve never noticed before.
See? A BJCP contest is far more than just to see who can add the most mango, or donuts to a beer.
Oh, and please, don’t misinterpret what the judges are for, or what they are doing. They are NOT there just to decide whether your beer is good or bad.
They are there because they have been trained to evaluate the different ranges of criteria that each style has, give a numbered score to those criteria, then give feedback on why your beer fit that criteria or how to get closer to it.
Don’t go thinking you’ll need to brew differently, or go out of your way to enter. A solid beer, entered correctly, will definitely get you some unbiased praise and info on how close a beer is to a style. Plus, as mentioned, you probably learned something along the way.
Everyone brings beers to the meetings to show them off, why not put a couple into the contest!