NHC Results: American IPA

Last summer I entered a bunch of beer's into the Delaware State Fair as part of a "To Style Series" where I shared the score sheet feedback and judges comments for each beer. My low gravity brown ale even won best in show over higher abv (sweeter) beers. The most fascinating part about the feedback was when I entered the same exact beer into similar categories and received completely opposite comments/reviews for a few (ie: too thin-full body or not enough malt complexity-great malt complexity) of the beers. Which I found kind of hilarious and sad. I think the number scale for BJCP is completely arbitrary. Neither the World Beer Cup or GABF use any type of number scale. A beer is either good, stands out on that day and moves on, or it doesn't. I still think it's a good idea for home brewer's to enter their beers into competitions, but take the results with a grain a salt. Some of the best selling craft beer's in the country have never won any GABF or WBC medals.

For this year's To Style Series I will be posting about a bunch of beer's I entered in the National Homebrew Competition. All of these beer's were also featured at my brewery in planning's inaugural tasting event where I presented sixteen different beer's to introduce Burlington Beer Co. The event went very well with over a hundred people stopping by to sample the beer's, an article in the local paper (Burlington Free Press) and featured on Beer Pulse

Category 14: American IPA 

American Pale Malt
Munich Malt
Flaked Barley
Victory Malt
Honey Malt
Caramunich 60

Mash 154*

Columbus      :60 (whole leaf)
Columbus      :20 (whole leaf)
Centennial      :1   (whole leaf)
Citra              :1   (whole leaf)
Galaxy           dry   (pellet)
Columbus      dry   (pellet)
Centennial     dry    (pellet)
Pacific Jade   dry    (pellet)
Citra              dry   (pellet)

14*P (1.056)
Safale US-05

#1- highly American hopped with citrus floral aroma, some light fruity notes, no diacetyl, no DMS
#2- big hop, citrus aroma, a little floral, some malt in background, clean, light esters

#1- medium, gold, good clarity, white medium retention head
#2- medium amber color, tan head, medium head retention, good texture, clear

#1- hop flavor is high, well bittered, hop character is resinious, light malt sweetness supports and balances hop bitterness, some low fruit flavors, no diacetyl
#2- hoppy flavor with bitterness evident, malt balances bitterness mid-palate, bitter finish and after taste without any harshness

#1- medium body, medium carbonation, well attenuated finish with some warming, no hop astringency
#2- medium-light body, could be a bit more, medium carbonation, fine creamy texture, no astringency

Overall Impression
#1- an excellent representation of the style, style appropriate balance towards hoppy bitterness, but with malt backbone, slightly higher carbonation would have thrown it over the top
#2- really enjoyable beer! body is a bit light for style, but malt/hop balance in flavor is good, bump up both a small amount, but overall, good job

#1- Non-BJCP        37/50
#2- BJCP certified   34/50

Overall 35.5/50---Very Good (30-37)

For the tasting event I described the beer as: A medium to light bodied India Pale Ale that delivers a spectrum of hop aroma's and flavor's. Ranging from pine, citrus, floral, and earthy. We called it Another IPA so it's easy to order Another..

I may bump the gravity up a bit and/or raise the mash temperature in the future giving the beer more body, but overall I'm pleased with the results. The patrons at the beer tasting were very pleased with Another IPA as the whole case was gone, as well as it's darker cousin Dark & Dank (which I did not enter in the NHC because there isn't a category for dark IPA's).


  1. I completely agree on the polar opposite comments by judges. I too had entered a Scottish 80/- schilling a comp, got a 30 and some disparaging reviews. I entered the same beer into the Delaware State Fair and got 2nd BOS right behind you!

    Are you entering the fair again this year? Congrats on the win last year and the solid score at NHC this year!


    1. A friend in VT had a similar thing happen with a Scoth Ale. Getting a low score at NHC and then winning gold in respective category in VT home brew competition.

      I won't be entering the DE state fair this year. I'll be moving home to VT to start a brewery in 2013. You better win Best of Show this year!

    2. Thanks! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make the best of show in the DE State Fair this year. I did place however, with my Mild getting 1st in the English Brown Ale category and my Witbier getting 3rd in the Belgian, French and Sour Beer Category... Guess I set the bar pretty high last year :)

  2. Nice job on the IPA - those are good scores. I also agree that judges feedback can be contradictory. Within a competition it's not as bad because the judges have to be within a certain amount of points and will negotiate a final score, but between competitions the scores can be way off (as you found).

    Not sure I agree about the point system though. I think it's useful for the judges to rank beers and also for homebrewers to see not just where they need work, but how far off they are. I can see why they don't do it in the pro competitions. I doubt any pro's would drastically change their recipes based on judges comments. For them it's more sales driven then being technically accurate.

    It's been fun following the brewery's progress. Keep us posted.