Back to Beer

It’s been a while since I’ve formally judged beer; at least a year. If you follow my blog, you know that I took the One Year No Beer (OYNB) challenge in which I abstained from alcohol to change my relationship with alcohol. The challenge was a success and at the end of the challenge, I set terms for what alcohol use would look like for me going forward. It’s been going well so far. However, I can identify why many people who drink again typically relapse. My first drink was cheating a little. I had a sake flight. It consisted of 3 mini pours of sake that totaled to a standard drink of sake. After having that I felt fine… too fine. I felt like I could have had “one of those nights.” Yet, I didn’t indulge because of the skills I developed in the program. Apparently drinking alcohol is like riding a bike; it’s easy to pick up where you left off. Despite that revelation, I haven’t had the taste for alcohol. It’s no longer my go to for stress relief or to unwind. I’ve also found myself to be more particular about the drinks I have. I only want the best. #drinkworthy

Aside from casual drinking, I’ve restarted my BJCP and Cicerone trainings. BJCP is the Beer Judging Certification Program and the Cicerone program is similar to becoming a sommelier, but for beer. My goal is to be a master of both; a #BeerBaddie.” ( I think that’s the first time I’ve heard this term, so it’s mine). The elephant in the room is that I intially thought I needed to drink a lot of beer to accomplish those goals. However, The OYNB program gave me the confidence to set my own terms. Thus, I adopted my own way of drinking beer.

My new way of judging consists of spitting out the samples. It’s something that’s very common in the wine community, but I never saw it done in the beer community. For weeks I lamented about how I thought people would judge me. I overly scrutinized my choice. I researched how sommeliers spit and what people who use snuff do. I ultimately decided to use a large water bottle that covered my entire mouth to spit discreetly.

After all the ruminating and worrying about how weird I’d look, it ended up being perfectly fine. I explained to the other judges at the table that I’d be spitting. The resounding response was, “Do what you have to do.” That was so freeing. I was freed from feeling like a weirdo and was more empowered to do what I came to do… judge beer.

Getting back to judging beer felt so good. It’s truly my passion to learn more about beer and share that knowledge with others. Before I talk more about judging I want to explain the process a little more. There are homebrew competitions throughout the year. These are regulated and there is a systemic way these are organized. Many people enter in these competitions for bragging rights of having the best beer. Others enter for feedback. For example, I entered my beer for feedback. It wasn’t bad, but there is something about it that I can’t explain. A beer is judged on how close it is to a classic example. There are guidelines for each type of beer like stout, IPA, California Common, or many others. Beer judges also give feedback on what the brewer could change to make a better beer. That’s the part that fascinates me most. There are 2 judges for each beer and more judges in if they can’t agree or when it’s time to decide winning beers.

I believe my new way of judging heightened my experience. I’m able to judge as much as I like without feeling tipsy. My technique isn’t alcohol free, but it allows me to experience a lot more beer without getting drunk. Depending on the style, you can get quite lit by the 6th sample. I was better about to think through the beers, discuss them, and give constructive feedback.

My new technique worked so well that I’ll be using it at future judging events, to study beer, and at beer festivals. Let me know in the comments if this is something you would try.

2 thoughts on “Back to Beer

  1. I Believe you can do anything you put your mind to do. Blessings to you ❤️

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