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First competition

I entered my first homebrew competition in the Spring. Merrimack Valley Homebrew Club was holding it’s first ever comp, which was open to all. Given the dates the entries were due, and what I had already brewed, I put aside my robust porter (my second all-grain brew) which was roughly 5 months old. I had some of my altbier left as well, so I put aside a couple bottles as well. The comp required 2 bottles per brew entered. I was also finishing up my rye IPA as well, and while I wasn’t sure how it was going to taste in the end, I figured I’d plan on putting that in as well.

If nothing else, I was hoping to get some decent constructive criticism back on my score sheets. I dropped a six pack (3 entries) at one of the locations taking entries (Beer Wine Hobby in Woburn) on our way to PA for our niece’s graduation from PSU. The comp itself was going to be a couple weeks after that deadline. And was I ever surprised to see the results page on their site when it listed that I had placed in two of the three categories I entered. My altbier and rye IPA got silvers!

Now, there were only 10 entries in “European Amber Lager, Dark Lager, Bock, Amber Hybrid” and 20 entries in “Specialty Beer”. According to the BJCP, due to the noticeable amount of rye in my IPA, it was considered “specialty” and not American IPA.

It took a couple months to receive the score sheets in the mail, and I am happy to say each entry provided 2 detailed score sheets. Interestingly, the altbier notes suggested that it was perhaps a bit high on the bitterness for a “north german alt”. The recipe I followed was actually for a Dusseldorf altbier, which is supposed to be more flavorful and with higher hop bitterness compared to the northern german alt style. I just didn’t think I got that kind of firm bitterness in my final product, so I entered it in the northern german category. Now I’m curious how it would have been judged if I had actually entered it in the Dusseldorf category.

The rye IPA notes called attention to the fact that it was a bit under-carbonated, and now I do recall that I was a bit low on the priming sugar when I bottled that.

I was also happy to see that all three entries had their two scores each within 1 or 2 points of the other, making the judging seem pretty consistent. Rye IPA was a 35 and 37, the altbier 36 and 38. Also, each judge’s name and email contact info is on each form.

Two 2nd place finishes


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