There was a recent discussion on a forum regarding judging and advancing beers to the mini-BOS. My philosophy is if there are three awards for a flight then each judge teach should advance three beers or less. Some were indicating they might advance more to a small mini-BOS, but I just cannot work that out in my head. Let’s say there are five beers with scores in excess of 40 points and the flight has been awesome, I still would determine the top three and advance those to the mini-BOS. If there was no mini-BOS then you would have to determine the top three slots anyway. Someone mentioned what if one of the judge teams was novice judges and my thought there is the judge teams were not properly aligned. It is always good practice to determine the rank and experience of everyone on the flight and to realign the pairing if needed. The judge director does not always know the experience of everyone and may not always get it perfect. Try to pair experienced and ranking with novice so every team on the flight has an experienced judge.

In a homebrew competition there are generally three places awarded, first, second, and third. Occasionally there is honorable mention which is basically a thanks for playing award. Now in the example of the five high scoring beers it may mean something, but most of the time it really doesn’t. I’ve never much cared for the everyone gets a prize mentality we have today. I’ve seen competitions with as few as seven entries in the flight award honorable mention. That’s just silly, almost 60% of the entries get a prize? I’ve also seen the opposite where no first place is awarded when everything in the flight is low scoring. I don’t recall ever doing that myself, but I like the mentality. If your beers are not above par then they probably do not deserve an award in the first place. Competitions are held for two reasons, feedback on the beer and awards. I find most new entrants are after feedback and most seasoned brewers are gunning for awards. Regardless of their motivation for entering the competition you as a judge need to provide the best possible feedback on the score sheet and to decide the awards, if you cannot do that within the judge team then reach out to the steward for assistance or to the competition judge director.

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