On a late piece of information I was told that the HOPS BOPS competition was last Saturday (11.10.07), so I sent out a couple quick e-mails and made some stuff happen.


So basically I e-mailed the people in charge to see if (1) they needed any more judges for the competition and (2) to see if I could still register my beers for the competition though the deadline to register had already passed. I was lucky and they said they could use both judges and I could register, plus I was allowed to hand-deliver my beers to the competition the day of the competition to avoid shipping charges.

I entered three beers in this competition, the 2005 MacRae Strong Scotch Ale in the 9E-Scotch Ale category, the ABA Grand Experiment in the 10C-American Brown Ale category, and the PABA in the 20A-Fruit Beer category as an American Brown Ale with peaches added. I was trying to wait until I got my sheets back before I posted this, but I still have not received them yet and they were supposed to e-mail them to us, weak! Anyway, the MacRae placed third in it’s group lumped in with British, Scottish, and Irish beers with only 7 entries. Actually there were only 94 entries overall. They really didn’t do a good job promoting this competition if you ask me.

Since I just got my sheets back (about seven hours after I posted this) I’ll post some of the results here:

  • ’05 MacRae – 30/28/32 – “Complex aroma. Clear, pretty.” – “Smokey caramel with a slightly buttery note.” – “Nice rich malt with some supporting hop bitterness (maybe a touch high for style) and lots of smoke.”
  • ABA – 28/31/31/31 – “Excellent drinking beer that would fit better as a Southern English Brown or even a Brown Porter.” – “Balance tends toward hop bitterness but finishes on soft sweet caramel notes.” – “Tasty, but could use a bit more bitterness, I really enjoyed the nutty/chocolate flavors.” – “Well balanced hops and malt.”
  • Peach ABA – 29/24 – “Complex, peachy, chocolaty. Wonderful!”- “Nice peach aroma with underlying chocolate from brown ale.”

(I believe this beer (the PABA) was ‘digged’ hard because it was a ‘gusher’. I have a theory on why the PABA has become a gusher of a beer: I feel as if I should have moved the beer to a tertiary fermenter to let the peaches completely fall clear since I peached the ABA during secondary thus voiding the potential for the effects of the secondary fermenter, and because the beer had not fallen mostly clear a significant amount of sediment was carried over to the bottles, thus giving increased nucleation sights for the carbonation to escape suspension in the beer, leading to a gusher. I feel as if this beer did not have off flavors, was not infected, and was thoroughly tested by drinking 18 of them in one night, thank you Erik & Robert.)

Not only that, but I felt as though this competition was very disorganized. It was supposed to start at 9:30AM so I arrived early at 9AM so there would be time to register my beers, have some typically supplied breakfast and coffee, and get situated for the morning. I actually beat the organizers to there own competition and I live in a different state! Anyway, I was early to say the least, they didn’t supply breakfast, not even coffee (blasphemy!), and things didn’t get really rolling until almost 10:30. I had heard the day of the competition that they had less than 100 entries so I figured we were going to bust them all out in the morning and have an early day, but instead they tripled and quadrupeled some of the tables of judges together – ugh! It was like pulling teeth to get through the day in general.

I judged Specialty Beers in the morning and Strong Ales, Wood-Aged, and Smoked in the afternoon. Though the specialty beers can be quite a scary category (think everything that doesn’t fit into another category) it was actually better than the afternoon category. In the morning we had a black honey lager, two rye beers, an apple cobbler beer, an Altbier light, and one dubbed the Peanut Butter Bomb. The Peanut Butter Bomb was a stand-out for all the wrong reasons, quite a lovely gusher it was. In the afternoon we had a really terrific Old Ale that the other two judges weren’t feeling, four English Style Barleywines, a wood aged beer, and a smoked beer. The wood one was like sucking on oak chips and the smoked one tasted like a burn-out from a car, both pretty gross.

Overall it was a long, kind of boring, relatively expensive day. I left the house at about 8AM to leave for Philly and got home a little after 5PM, I really would have liked to have seen us bust out the whole session in just the morning but instead it was way drawn out, and between entry fees and parking it cost me $45 to volunteer my help for the day. Well, on a slightly more positive note, the food and beer at Nodding Head Brew Pub was good.

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