Thursday, August 25, 2011

Homebrew Competitions – Go Big or Go Home!

As a self described “obsessed homebrewer”, I love the idea of being able to submit a beer that I made to a certified judge to have it evaluated. Not only is this a wonderful way to build confidence as a brewer, it is great to get feedback and advice from someone who has studied the brewing process, so that you can learn new ways in which you can improve upon your beer. Overall I would say that I am a big proponent of competitions in general. So much so that I am studying to become a judge myself.

With all of that said, I feel that there is a major flaw in the system. This is a flaw that lies more with human nature than with the BJCP, AHA or any individual competition coordinators. The problem with competitions is that the winning beers are often not based on the style guidelines for the category they are designed to be. In fact, competitions have become a very strategic pass-time. As brewers chart out which categories and styles will give them the best chance of winning a gold.

In the culture of craft beer and homebrew, we have continued to push the limits of what is possible in regard to flavor. Although this is wonderful and the benefits of such creativity are staggering. Have we forgotten the subtle beauty of a well balanced, well crafted beer? It often seems that we have replaced them with the biggest baddest Barley Wines, and mouth numbing DIPA's. Even with a category as familiar and old as a Dry Stout, we continually find new ways to make them bigger and more unusual. Don't get me wrong, this in itself is not a bad thing. The real problem comes into play when a beer that is submitted to a competition and is made perfectly for its style, is over shadowed by larger more flavorful beers that are not necessarily appropriate for the style.

The BJCP guideline are created to show us the distinctions and definitions of a particular style of beer as well as to draw a line in the sand between categories. But I feel that we may be moving too far away from what was intended.There is a certain amount of art that goes into the creation of each beer. That being said, I fear that we may be losing touch with the “classic” subtle flavors that made craft beer amazing in the first place. In no way am I suggesting that we stop moving forward in the creation of new imaginative beers. In fact I love nothing better than a big hopped up beer or basically anything oaked in a bourbon barrel. I just feel that we need to re-examine our palates and begin judging beers as they were intended to be, instead of how out of the box one can get. I fear the day we start to see Imperial Pilsner submitted to competitions.

Understand that when I discuss this as an ongoing issue, I am in no way referring to any of my personal beers, as I have not even come close to perfecting a style. But I will keep trying.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Buddha Nuvo - A Colorado Collaboration Beer

I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive at first, about spending $40 for a beer. Even one that was brewed by 14 of my favorite brewers. It took having the beer described to me by a couple of the brewers, as well as reading some local reviews before deciding that I absolutely had to try it.

The idea for Buddha Nuvo came about as all ideas should...over a beer. Jim Stinson of the Rockyard and Jason Yester of Trinity Brewing were enjoying a couple of pints, when they decided that they should get together to do a collaboration Saison beer. As they discussed it further and began to get excited, they decided to call on some of their friends and fellow brewers to help create the beer . They all agreed to brew at the Rockyard as well as use this as an opportunity to raise some money for the Colorado Brewers Guild.

Buddha Nuvo is a Saison that comes in at 12% ABV, but it is unlike any Saison that I have ever seen, or better yet tasted. The grain bill includes Weyerman Pilsen, Vienna, Rye, as well as Spelt which is a species of wheat. Pumpkin is then added to the boil as are a mixture of Peppercorns to add a distinct spice flavor. The beer uses 6 different strains of yeast as well as 5 strains of brettanomyces for a sour tartness. The beer was then aged in Oak Chardonnay Barrels where they added the addition of Buddha Hand which is a rare citrus fruit originally grown in India.

When poured, Buddha Nuvo is a cloudy orange amber color with a nice white head. The aroma gives off a strong citrus orange nose with a wonderful tartness from the brett. When you first taste it, Buddha has the flavor of bitter orange with the spice of the peppercorns. On the back-end, you can taste the Oaked Chardonnay from the barrels that gives an almost champagne type quality. The beer is very complex and yet simple at the same time. The flavors seem to continually change in your mouth as you drink.

Overall Buddha Nuvo it is a truly remarkable beer that is dangerously easy to drink and unlike anything that I have had before. I am so happy that I live in state with brewers who are so willing to work together to create something so special. Even more so, I am so happy that I put my cheapness aside (if even for a little while), so that I could experience this amazing beer. To answer your next question, yes, it is worth the money although I do wish it was a bit cheaper so I could have even more. Word on the street is that we may get to see Buddha Nuvo again next year, lets keep our fingers crossed.

Buddha Nuvo was brewed by the following breweries:

  • Rockyard Brewing

  • Trinity Brewing

  • AC Golden

  • Crooked Stave

  • Funkwerks

  • Rock Bottom Brewery

  • Strange Brewing

  • Ska Brewing

  • Black Fox Brewing

  • Del Norte Brewing

  • Tommyknocker Brewery

  • Dry Dock Brewery

  • Shamrock Brewing

  • Colorado Mountain Brewery

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August Beer Festival Calendar

Saturday August, 13th

Sunday August, 14th

Friday August, 19th

Saturday August, 20th

    Saturday August, 27th

    Please let me know if there are any that I missed.