Tuesday, July 3, 2012

San Diego County Fair Homebrew Competition

I entered a beer in the homebrew competition at the San Diego County Fair this year.  It's one of the largest single day beer competitions in the world with over 1200 entries and it was a lot of fun besides.  With all of the enthusiasm for brewing that people in San Diego have it was no wonder I saw so many different people trucking in coolers of precious hand-crafted ale and lager to be critically evaluated.  You can officially enter ten different beers, but I only had one in bottles that I thought warranted sharing with people other than close friends and family.
Big lines just for dropping off entries.

I submitted Senne Valley Saison into category 16E: Belgian Specialty Ale because it was spiced with coriander seed and dosed with Brettanomyces near the end of fermentation.  The beer came out clear and light orange, with a delicate carbonation and a smooth even taste.  It's dry and hints at tartness that doesn't really come through.  It also smells very nice, being somewhat reminiscent of Orval.

The atmosphere at the competition was fraternal to the utmost with pretty much everyone in attendance excited to be there.  When the first round results were announced, with only 30 odd beers (one for each BJCP category) moving on to the Best of Show round, all of the remaining entrants in attendance started opening their other beer (the one brought in case a first round category win happened and a second bottle was needed).  It sort of (de)generated into a big party.  Jeff from Bikes, Beer & Adventures earned a second place in the Sour Beer category and was kind enough to let me sample his winning Flanders and drop some knowledge about blending.  He also shared a bottle of his Oud Bruin that I thought was really interesting.  I also got to try beers from other participants as well.  
Category 16 judging in progress.

Unfortunately, Senne Valley Saison didn't place in the competition.  I'm looking forward to getting the judges scores in the mail even though I'm told they used a short form version of the BJCP scoresheet that doesn't really allow for detailed comments.  Maybe I'll have better luck next year.


  1. It was good to finally meet you, I'm glad you found me. And I'm glad you found me in time to try some beer.

    I wouldn't put too much stock in that competition just because of the number of entries and amount of time that judges have to spend on your beer. The other tough part about entering Saisons is that you are at the discretion of that day's judge. The style guidelines are so wide so they are basically looking for off flavors and then just their preference (and Specialty is even wider). In NHC, I actually entered my Brett'd Saison in the Saison category since the style guidelines do mention wild yeast is acceptable (but again you are depending on the judge's taste for funk).

    Anyways, lets do some blending and even brew a collaboration batch (Dark Saison?)

    1. I appreciate the kind words. I thought your second place sour was a beautiful beer. All the things you shared about blending really got my mind working, too. I'd be excited to do some blending with you there for guidance, and am always down for a collaboration beer. I just got back in town so we'll work something out soon.


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