Last weekend, the one before Labor Day, I had what could be considered a perfect beer lovers Saturday.

Dawn came early as I got on the road for a two hour drive to Richmond and the James River HomeBrewer’s Dominion Cup. Yes, I was judging homebrew.  (Remember the original premise of this blog? Well, after too many months I’m slowly getting back to that task.) I joined two high powered judges, veterans of the BJCP, to judge Belgian Specialty and Sour Ale Category. Steven Davis, President of Colonial Ale Smiths & Keggers (CASK) and Steve Severtson, Board member James River HomeBrewers, were stellar counterpoints to my amateur status.

The good news? With one exception all of my scores were within a few points of those of my colleagues. The other piece of good news were the beers. Every single one of them was an enjoyable brew, begging for more than just the sample we had. However, there were two patterns of problems that the three of us discussed — attention to style and fulfilling expectations of the description. Take red sour ale, an entry would have red or sour, but not both. Or the entry would list a bunch of exotic ingredients which weren’t anywhere to be found in the beer itself.

As for my vocabulary, it wasn’t as far off as I would have expected. However, I did think about getting some beers with recognized sensory components and get the reference ingredient (nutmeg or cinnamon, for example) and go back and forth between them. Or train for the BJCP exam and learn the ropes like Steve and Steven did.

As for the rest of that Saturday, I’ll pick that up in a bit.

Putting my nose in the right place.  (Steven on right, Steve on left)