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Session #41: It always starts with an idea

The SessionIn the words of the immortal Alan McLeod, “Holy Frig – it’s already time for the 41st edition of The Session.” The topic for discussion is “Craft Beers Inspired By Homebrewing,” Lug Wrench Brewing is hosting and it appears a coyote (we don’t have a dog; coyotes live nearby) ate my homework.

But I can tell you a little something you might not have noticed. The champion Scotch & Barley Wines at the 2010 Australian International Beer Awards was the Samuel Adams LongShot Barley Wine released earlier this year as “Mile High Barley Wine Ale.”

Quick background, in case you aren’t familiar with the LongShot contest. Boston Beer, brewer of the Samuel Adams beers, holds a national contest each year for homebrewers. Regional winners send their beers to Boston, where they are judged by a panel that includes Boston Beer founder Jim Koch.

Two winners are chosen, and the brewers at Boston Beer turn those recipes into beers distributed nationally in a six-pack that also includes a recipe from the Boston Beer employee contest. Two beers from each winner, six beers total.

“Mile High Barley Wine” is called that because the recipe comes from Rio Rancho, just up the hill from us (we’re at about 5,100 feet). So I’ve had the homebrewed version, the batch that Boston Beer brought to the Great American Beer Festival when it was announced Ben Miller’s recipe was one of the two winners, right when it was released in April and just the other day. Never quite the same, but that’s an aside.

So I’ve heard the story more than once about how when Ben brewed the beer the yeast he used pooped out, and he had to add more (so the beer wasn’t sickly sweet). Thus it was interesting last fall to talk to Koch about the beer.

“It had a lot of fermentation complexity . . . that consumed the alcohol,” he said.

He also discussed his own approach to the judging process (he gets but one vote).

“I drink it, I think, I close my eyes. I see a number and I write the number down.”

2 Responses to Session #41: It always starts with an idea

  1. Zak July 2, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    I have a binary system for scoring beer – either I want another glass, or I don’t.

    I’m never going to judge at the World Beer Cup with an attitude like that, am I?

  2. Ilya Feynberg July 10, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    @Zak That’s not a bad system! At the end of the day what the hell do you number ratings REALLY mean anyway? It all comes down to what YOU the drinker likes or does not like. Is it surprising that love beers that were rated at 72? Nope. Not all.

    On a slightly different yet same subject (does that make sense?)…

    Does it really matter what his brews end up being rated? REALLY ask yourself does it?

    It might be the justification one is seeking no question. And it’s a great feeling to get your brews rated highly. Of course.

    But what really matters here? Is it what a panel of judges think? Or rather is what the every day drinkers think of his/her brews?

    First respect the passion, blood, sweat and sleepless nights that someone puts into their craft. Secondly, if you like it…truly like…ratings don’t matter for sh*t.

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