When you find yourself at a competition and you are the more experienced judge of the pair, what is your role? It’s actually a very simple, to mentor the less experienced judge. Recently at a competition I noticed my fellow judge noting astringency on the flavor section. All judges should realize astringency is a sensation and should ONLY be noted in the mouthfeel because you cannot smell it, taste it, or see it. The new judge was appreciative of the critique and after a quick correction noted the perceived astringency in the mouthfeel section of the score sheet. It only takes a minute to go over the sheet as the consensus scores are devised and suggest corrections.
I stole the sheet below from the BJCP Facebook Group, it should be obvious the judge was a novice and no one took the time to critique their comments. Let’s take a look at what is wrong. At first blush the person did a substandard job with filling in the white space with comments, but I suspect this was later in the flight based on some cues at the top. The person noted the subcategory in the category section as well as the subcategory and also misspelled the subcategory. Perhaps they were consuming too much of the sample. For aroma they noted “fruit” and “smell” instead of esters and the aroma. Sure sign of an inexperienced judge. For appearance they noted the “body” instead of color, body is a sensation to be noted in mouthfeel. For flavor no one cares if the judge likes a style or not, it is how well the beer compares to the style guidelines. If you cannot properly evaluate a style due to personal preference you should recuse yourself from the flight by asking the judge director to reassign you to a different table. In mouthfeel they mentioned the taste, the mouthfeel is reserved for sensations and taste is a flavor. The overall impression was honest, but completely useless. In this case it would have been better for the person to just write the words to show tunes on the sheet since it would have conveyed just as many meaningful comments. I would suggest this person steward and refrain from judging in the future as their comments are as useless as teats on a boar hog.
So what went wrong here? Several things, first of which is the judge was assigned to a flight they should not judge. The second was no one reviewed the quality of the sheet being created by this judge. At a minimum the senior judge on the team should have taken a second to review. Even better would be for the judge director to take a minute every so often and review sheets. I know I could do that for a competition very quickly and if it was done once per hour for 10 or 15 minutes poor sheets like this could be caught and corrected.
If you are the more experienced judge, take a minute and review the sheet from the less experienced judge for content and offer suggestions for improvement. It’s very simple, only takes a minute, and the newer judge might actually learn something in the process to help them become a better judge.